Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Beginners Guide to Choosing a Shake Rag Alley Workshop

Have you been thinking about taking a workshop at Shake Rag Alley but feeling somewhat overwhelmed and unsure of which class would be right for you? If you are new to arts and crafts, it can definitely be a bit daunting to sift through the 200 or so workshops on the Shake Rag schedule. Hopefully this post can provide some guidance.

If you are just starting out it makes sense to look for a class that not only interests you and covers the basics, but which is also within your budget and doesn’t require purchasing a ton of supplies or tools that you may not want if it turns out this art medium simply isn’t your thing.

Look at the Workshop Events

Among Shake Rag Alley’s wealth of offerings, perhaps the first place to look is in the four annual workshop events – Garden Getaway in March, Bead and Bangles in May, Woodlanders in July, and Art Adventure in August.

Beginning Cement and Mosaic classes
are featured at both Garden Getaway and Art Adventure
Garden Getaway (2016 dates - March 19-20) consists of half day classes with a gardening theme and is the first introduction to Shake Rag Alley workshops for many students. None of the Garden Getaway workshops assume any prior art experience. Tools and materials are supplied for most workshops and when students are asked to bring tools they are usually common household items.

Cement/mosaic garden projects are featured as are rustic arts such as Bent Willow Trellis but there are other options as well. You can expect to complete a project in class.

You can get an introduction to lots of jewelry
techniques at Beads and Bangles
Beads and Bangles (2016 dates - May 21-22) is a weekend composed entirely of beginning Jewelry classes. Tools are supplied as are materials in most cases, so no purchases necessary. You can get an introduction to beadwork, or wire work, or enameling, or Precious Metal Clay, or even some basic metalsmithing techniques. Since metalsmithing classes are held in Shake Rag’s Jewelry Studio you may also get exposure to the use of jewelry making equipment.

Most classes are only half day and you’ll go home with at least one finished piece of jewelry you’ve made yourself.

Woodlanders workshops cover a wide variety
of crafts utilizing natural materials

Woodlanders (2016 dates - July 7-10) features rustic arts and nature crafts. There are over 40 workshops creating a wide variety of projects from jewelry to blacksmithing to rustic furniture, baskets and gourds, and more.

You can sign up for one, two, three or four days. Rather than class fees, you pay a day fee that includes lunches, snacks and evening activities. Most classes are half day, so even if you can only spare one day you can fit in two classes.

Any of the Woodlanders classes would be perfect for a beginner.

Altered Mint Tins is just one of many
beginning classes offered at Art Adventure

Art Adventure (2016 dates - August 25-28) consists of four days of classes in a lot of different media – collage and assemblage, jewelry, cement/mosaic, creative writing, altered art, fiber art and more. Some are half day and some are a full day or longer, but ALL are appropriate for beginners. Sign up for as many or as few as you like (no event fee).

Inexpensive half day options range from Altered Mint Tins to Leather Cuffs, Cut Paper Collage, and Whimsies (Gourd Figures), just to name a few.

Take a beginning watercolor workshop with Dawn Flores
And finally, keep in mind that most Shake Rag Alley workshops are designed for a wide range of experience levels. So even many of the longer or seemingly more advanced classes are quite appropriate for Novice and Beginner students

The minimum required skill level is listed with each class on the website, along with a link to a description of the skill levels (Novice, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). 

The difference between Novice and Beginner, is mostly based on the materials a student needs to provide. Novice classes usually include all tools and materials, while Beginners need to provide a few things of their own. Also, whereas a half day Novice class may focus on the class project and thus give you a taste for working in a particular medium, a longer Beginner class will probably provide you with a more comprehensive foundation.

So if you get excited about a workshop that is a bit longer or seems more involved don’t let the fact that you’re new at this stop you. Just go for it! Unless the class description specifically lists prerequisites you don’t have or states that it is aimed at intermediate or above, you’ll be fine. But if you have any doubts or questions about a class, call the Shake Rag office at 608-987-3292. The staff will be happy to chat with you about the particulars of any class.

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