Arts & Culture

Adults get creative with Friday night classes (and wine) at Arbutus Folk School

Students get their hands dirty during a Play with Clay class.
Students get their hands dirty during a Play with Clay class. Courtesy of Arbutus Folk School

During this time of year when much of South Sound can be found hanging out in bars, watching movies or simply recovering from the holiday hustle, some folks will be getting crafty and chatty in the playful Friday-night classes at Arbutus Folk School.

In 2019, the arts nonprofit is adding a Play With Yarn class to its popular Play With Clay offering, which for the past three years has been drawing absolute beginners and experienced ceramicists alike to kick off their weekends with creativity.

“It’s a time to hang out with your friends in a creative space and make stuff together,” said Stacey Waterman-Hoey, the founder and director of the folk school, which teaches traditional crafts including woodworking, metalworking and music as well as ceramics and fiber arts.

“It’s a great way to meet people and go out and be social and be creative in your community,” she told The Olympian. “To spend two or three hours side by side working on a project is a better way to get to know somebody than sitting side by side in a bar. … There’s a lot of joking and interacting.”

The classes do have just a little bit in common with bars: There’s wine for sale.

“Sometimes, the wine helps open up your creativity a little bit,” Waterman-Hoey said.

The Play With Yarn class, taught by Annette Harrison, focuses on creating woven wall hangings, which opens up infinite possibilities, Waterman-Hoey said. “It’s like painting a picture with yarn,” she said. “We will provide everything that you need to do the painting, and you get to decide what the picture is that you’re going to paint.”

Play With Yarn Project Pic.jpg
An example of a Play with Yard project. Courtesy of Arbutus Folk School

The clay class offers an inspiring project idea each month, and attendees are always welcome to create their own project, so long as it fits within the time frame of the class, instructor Nicole Gugliotti said.

Some themes come from student suggestions. “Last December, we made tiny porcelain animals, and that was inspired by a student who’d come the previous summer,” she said. “They hadn’t done ceramics before, and they didn’t like the way the clay felt on their hands, but they got really into the class, and they said we should make tiny porcelain animals.”

So popular was that class that Gugliotti offered it again last month.

“The animals are great, because you don’t have to worry about things like gravity and the laws of physics,” she said. “With all of the projects, they can be made simply, or you can really get into it.”

The class has attracted new students to the school’s ceramics program, she said. “I’ve had students come back months in a row and go on their own path with the projects, and then maybe from there they attend a six-week course or come to the open studio.”

The classes are a good way to experiment with a variety of media, Waterman-Hoey said.

Introducing people to traditional crafts is part of the mission of Arbutus, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in October.

Waterman-Hoey also aims to boost Olympia’s arts scene and support its artists.

“My motivation is to put Olympia on the map as a destination for craft and art and to help people who want to make a living as artists be able to do so,” she said. “I feel like it’s sustainable economic development.”

Play With Clay

  • What: From absolute beginners to experienced artists, all are welcome to play with clay at this monthly social class for adults.

  • When: 6-8 p.m. the first and third Fridays of each month, with participants building a project at the first class and glazing it at the second session

  • Where: Arbutus Folk School, 610 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

  • How much: $49 including materials

  • More information: 360-350-0187, arbutusfolkschool.org

  • Up next: It’s too late to register for the January class. February’s class — in which students can make wall pockets — happens Feb. 1 and 15.

Play With Yarn

  • What: Those curious about fiber arts can learn to make one-of-a-kind wall hangings in this social class for adults.

  • When: 6-9 p.m. the first Friday of each month

  • Where: Arbutus Folk School, 610 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

  • How much: $57 including materials

  • More information: 360-350-0187, arbutusfolkschool.org

  • Up next: It’s too late to register for the January class. The next class is Feb. 1.





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