You might be most familiar with the Featherstone Center for the Arts if you’ve visited the large light-filled Francine Kelly Gallery for one of the rotating exhibits or if you’ve attended a music event, outdoor movie or poetry reading during the summer, but there’s so much more to the six acre arts campus, which stays open year-round to offer classes and workshops to the public.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Featherstone. Each decade the multi-building facility has expanded its offerings so that there are now dozens of educational options at any given time. Of course the roster includes painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, and other obvious choices. However, if your inner artist is seeking an outlet of a somewhat different sort, you might find inspiration by checking out some of the more unique offerings.
When Featherstone undertook a huge expansion project in 2017, the prominent Art Barn was constructed to include the spacious Francine Kelly Gallery, as well as a pottery studio and, something new to the arts campus, a jewelry studio, which has proven a very popular addition. Among the offerings for jewelry enthusiasts are classes in metalworking, enameling, crushed stone inlay, and beading. The latter involves instruction in knotting between beads and choosing the right technique for each kind of bead. Lucinda Sheldon’s popular beading class includes stringing materials and a variety of gemstones and other beads in the class fee. Sheldon also offers workshops in enameling glass on metal to produce intricate designs in pendants, earrings or ornamental inlays. Ivry Russillo is an expert metalworker whose line Ivry Belle offers eye-catching pieces in sterling silver, brass, and bronze, often featuring gemstones. She generously shares her talent with students at Featherstone through a variety of classes and workshops such as classes in crushed stone inlay and chandelier earrings.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you might consider exploring glass options. A four-week stained glass workshop will guide you through the entire process of cutting, grinding, and soldering to produce your own light-catching design. Wil Sideman of M.V. Glassworks offers an introduction to Kiln Formed Glass. This process involves “warm glass” techniques where glass is fused and shaped using patterns and molds within a kiln. At the completion of the two-part class, students can expect to leave with a small dish and the basic knowledge necessary to explore glass forming with electric kilns.
Featherstone’s fiber arts options extend well beyond knitting (although a beginner’s knitting class and a weekly knitting group are offered). Christa Fisher offers a variety of felting opportunities, including the chance to make felted slippers or a felted picture using wool. One unique option in the fiber arts category is an ongoing workshop called “Embellishing Jeans.” Don’t throw out your old jeans, learn how to embroider and appliqué to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
One of the easiest ways to spread your creative wings is to try out one of Featherstone’s mixed-media workshops. You can learn how to decoupage using found paper images varnished over to decorate just about any type of surface. For something really different, you might want to check out Brique Garber’s intuitive collage workshop. As Garber writes in the class description, “Creating collages can bypass your censoring mind and surprise you with new information about your inner landscape. Collaging is an innovative and somewhat unfocused activity that will result in lovely works of art…and, it is really fun!”
Featherstone also offers classes in printmaking and paper. The former includes instruction in traditional techniques such as linoleum block printing, dry-point etching, monotype and collagraph. The dedicated printmaking studio also hosts a weekly non-instructional open studio for those who want to create on their own time. Want to try your hand at making your own unique paper? Emma Young teaches a number of classes where you can experiment with every step of the process including cooking and beating fibers, pulp painting, embedding and sculptural painting. A more advanced class teaches techniques to make Eastern-style sheets and explore methods of collage and imaging making using the printing press. You can even learn to make your own natural dyes for paper or fabric.
Featherstone’s lineup of classes and workshops varies from month to month, so check out all the dates and times on their website at featherstoneart.org. You might even discover something on offer that you’ve never thought of exploring before.