With so many local fun places to make your own holiday gifts, maybe it’s time to roll up your sleeves and create some handmade gifts for that person who has everything.
Look at it this way, if you hand-craft a few neat gifts for others, you won’t have to put so much mall mileage on your shoes this season and the art might even help you to unwind a bit.
Think ahead about some unique art classes in the area, which by default, could produce some timeless, loving and unique gifts for the holidays. Here are a few to consider:
As the hustle bustle of the holidays approaches, Sunshine Glaze in Southlake is helping kids and parents decompress while walking away with a special gift to share.
“My mother always says that this type of art is cheaper than therapy,” says Allie Derojas of Sunshine Glaze.
Allie and her mother, Susan Derojas, and her sister, Tiffany Coe, own and run the arts-and-crafts studio for ceramics, glass fusion, mosaic and painting projects.
They also offer MDF (medium density fiberboard) cut outs to use in a variety of symbolic and decorative shapes for mosaic projects.
For beginning to advanced level artists, there is something in this studio for everyone.
“Within each medium, there can be something advanced for those who are looking for a little bit of a challenge,” Allie Derojas says.
This is a real toddler art stop, too. Every Friday morning, there is a toddler class in the party room.
There’s a Kid’s Night Out on the last Friday on each month where kids can craft while the parents have some time for dinner or even some holiday shopping.
“My mom likes to call this night actually, ‘Parents’ Night Out,” Derojas says with a laugh.
The options are endless for ceramic glazing. There’s a beautiful butter dish, an oversized slipper shoe that holds a bottle of wine and for the holidays and vintage inspired Christmas trees light up.
There are gingerbread man cookie platters, candy bowls and, of course, ornaments.
Zoe Vostry, age 9, of Trophy Club was making a square “Me” plate and was focusing on the details that define her childhood while her mother worked a more decorative, vintage-looking platter.
“This visit was a part of my birthday gift from my family and I had no idea what I’d do so I tried finding vintage things on Pintrest and I’m trying to copy something onto this plate,” her mother Jenn Vostry explains. “A lot of moms just sit and watch the kids paint, but I was like, no, I’m painting.”
A few tables away, a little five-year-old girl named Sophia Doss of Keller is singing aloud while she happily glazes a mug in a floral pattern with a lot of pink tones.
She puts her paintbrush down to recite the song about the months of the year complete with hand and arm gestures.
“Do you see or hear what she is doing?” her mother says with a laugh. “Her teacher taught her the months of the year to the Macarena song and dance.”
As the song ended, Sophia said, “I need more pink please!”
The benefit of working in a studio setting like this is that you sometimes get to share some tips and ideas with others.—and if you are lucky, songs.
A few young girls and their mothers come into pickup their art and are nervous for the reveal.
Derojas brings out a colorful glazed cat and Lindsey Havenstein, 7, of Keller gasps and cheers while her sister Riley, 5, looks on.
You see, picking up the final project is just as fun as doing the artwork.
Sunshine’s party room is usually packed with workshops and parties. Keep in touch with the special events and classes by staying connected to SunshireGlaze.com and its Facebook so that you won’t miss the upcoming holiday options.
If you are just not that into art, but want to give the gift of something handmade, there is an on-site artist who can customize any ceramic item such as a platter or ornament.
Everyone is a real, honest-to-gosh painter at Pickled Picasso in Keller. An art teacher guides the workshop’s step-by-step details to create imagery on which everyone in the class is working.
Often, the class is around a special party or gathering of friends who are there to celebrate something.
These places have it simplified so that anyone can learn basic techniques and be able to take home something that they will be very proud to hang in their homes or give to someone as a handmade gift.
During the holidays, there are many themed painting classes focusing on festive imagery but stretched canvases are not the only thing option.
Wine glasses are one and there is a “Wooden Wednesday” where people can paint on wood products in shapes that can hang as plaques, signs and decorative wall art.
Groups love to learn to paint together. Recently, Jocelyn Zee, a doctor of osteopath with JPS Physician Group in Fort Worth, had a few friends and colleagues meet to celebrate a birthday. They chose a floral/bicycle theme and all agreed that the class was a way to relieve a little stress and let their creative side flourish.
“How did you make your brush stroke so thin like that?” Winnie Wang of Grand Prairie asked the instructor.
Painting teacher Yahaira Arneros demonstrates how to release paint from the brush for a finer line.
The music playing makes this a lot of fun,” Zee says.
The question is, has anyone left crushed or disappointed about their composition’s end result?
“We really break it down and go step-by-step. I’ve met people that struggle in the class but by the end, they are usually really happy with it. There are those who truly come in expecting the worst and leave ecstatic,” Arneros says.
Pickled Picasso is always mixing it up and offering new twists to keep things interesting. Its website and social media pages will remind you of the holiday-themed workshops or special events.
If you are flying solo, there are also certain open studio times to work on a painting on your own. Pickled Picasso’s website posts all of the events and special seasonal projects.
Elm Street Studio
Elm Street Studio is a darling cottage in Keller that offers art classes for children and adults. Usually, the classes take place over a series of weeks so you’ll need to plan your calendar. There are a few options for art classes happening in the fall to holiday months which, two-fold, can be used to create beautiful, original gifts.
Giving a gift certificate to the classes and workshop with the materials needed makes a creative and generous gift.
Owner Shelly Hye excelled as a high school art teacher at Northwest High School in Justin for 16 years, and later delighted in sharing art through her own studio. The studio specializes in teaching art to children and adults. The range of classes are interesting ranging from oil and watercolor to drawing and cartooning to a 3D digital, plus a modeling class for kids age 10 and up.
The studio doubles as an events venue for fabulous parties and weddings, so often the classes are held there during the week.
Starting November 28, accomplished artist Liz Bonham teaches a four-week painting class geared to teens through adults. This workshop can possibly yield a stunning work of art to gift to someone special for the holidays. The class explores color theory and composition.
Learning art in such a beautiful setting at Elm Street Studio is inspiring in itself.
Vetro Glass Blowing Studio
If you are looking for something a little more adventuresome and a place to warm up during the colder months, Vetro Glassblowing Studio in Grapevine offers some special events for all ages. Whether you purchase something made by one of its glass artists or you participate in the creation process, there’s a lot of opportunity for creative gift-giving ideas here.
Near the Grapevine Vintage Express train depot in the heart of downtown Grapevine, Vetro simply marvels its visitors with phenomenal vases, glasses, wall art medallions and more glass treasures. There’s a window above one particular display cabinet that shows the more than 2,000 degree kilns, fire flames and working glass studio happening just beyond the wall.
“It gives people a really close up view of the world of glassblowing,” says David Gappa, glass artist and founder of Vetro.
Prepare to feel the fire from blazing kiln furnaces.
“When patrons feel the temperatures we are working with, it can be quite daunting at first,” a calm, cool and collected Gappa says with flames everywhere around him.
But real quickly, the temperature awareness fades as fascination of the glass creation process takes over.
“It gives people an appreciation to see how we control this molten material, this blob of glass,” Gappa says.
There are newcomers but some people have made coming to Vetro a holiday tradition. Since the studio’s opening in 1999, Gappa sees generations of families returning to make ornaments as a part of their seasonal tradition.
You can sign up to “participate” in making special things like wine glasses, holiday ornaments, autumnal pumpkins and other special, custom-made glass treasures. The glass artisans at Vetro will let you collaborate in their process.
Often in these events, you can select and apply the colors to the hot molten glass gather, and actually heat your chosen colors in Vetro's furnace.
The professional glassblowers will then blow and shape your glass into whatever it is you are there to make.
Vanessa Meyer of Dallas holds a PhD. in Neuroscience and she says was took some time to participate in making her first orange-accented clear wine goblet just for fun.
“It’s a fascinating form. You really get to work on the creative side of your brain here,” Meyer said.
Asked if the heat bothered her, she said, “No, we’re Texans so we’re used to the heat.”
Barbara Davis of Flower Mound was also learning how the glass goblets were blown out.
“It’s fascinating to see them open it up,” Davis says. “I have a whole new appreciation for wine glasses.”
Year-round, there is something for everyone and every holiday. The glass studio creatively caters to children in the summertime months. The glass dinosaur medallions are a huge hit with the children.
On-site event schedules vary, so it’s best to log onto Vetro’s website to find its calendar of events offered to the public. Reservations are encouraged for special activities. The popular ornament making options range from around $30 to $50 per ornament. The end result is a glass masterpiece to cherish for holidays to come and a newfound understanding for how artful glass is made by hand.
405 N. Carroll Ave
900 S. Main Street Suite 344
Elm Street Studio
139 S. Elm St.
Vetro Glass Blowing Studio
701 S. Main Street
See more of David Gappa’s incredible glass art at: