This weekend I had a fun opportunity to teach a knitting workshop at The Cleveland Flea. Until now, I’ve taught all our workshops at the Studio in Cleveland Heights, so it was a nice shake up in routine. And people asked all sorts of interesting questions about Studio How-To and me. So I thought today’s blog might be a way to answer those questions for more of you.
Is this place for real?
Yes. Cleveland has a place dedicated to learning how to make things in a crafty artsy way with focused workshops. We teach, we entertain, and we even provide space for other creatives to host events, launch their businesses, and find moral support. Come check it out - you can drop in without signing up for a class and just take a look. It’s a light-filled space with lots of open workspace, supplies, tools, inspiration. I go there everyday and still never have enough time to make all the things.
Who can take classes at the Studio?
Anyone. We’re for all ages and experiences. Are you a millennial searching for a crafty tribe? Retired and looking to try something new? Numbed by your day job and looking for an outlet? Or are you a kid begging your parents to teach you how to sew or knit? We have something for you (assuming you are looking for art and craft experiences). Just browse our classes, sign up for the one you want, and show up. No long term commitments, special enrollments, supplies to buy (unless the class description clearly says otherwise).
Who really runs this studio? Is this your full-time job?
The studio is a small local business. I (Sarah) own and operate the studio alone. I say we a lot because, like anything, there is a village of people behind me. But at the end of the day, I design and teach most of our workshops currently, do all the copywriting, blogging, social media, etc. Basically, whatever you see, it’s from me. (I did hire Indie Foundry to do my branding and a lovely photoshoot this summer. Wonderful team, by the way.) My husband teaches the leather workshops. He does the literal heavy lifting for me, and gives lots of mental/emotional support, but he likes to keep out of the daily grind of the operation, plus he has his own job. I collaborate with several local artists and makers to bring special events and workshops for things outside my expertise, too.
This is my full-time job, combined with homeschooling my six year old son. He’s with me or my husband all day. So, if you meet me, you are likely going to meet one or both of them at some point. (If you have questions about homeschooling, hit me up, or check out my good friend's homeschool blog. It’s a pretty interesting experience, especially while trying to run a business, but I have several friends in the same boat.)
So, it’s just you… How can you teach all these things (are you really qualified for this)?
People didn’t ask it quite so bluntly, but I think that’s what they meant, and it’s valid. I only teach workshops through which I can add value to your learning experience. If I don’t know how to do something well enough to teach it, I find other makers and artists who are experts in their topic and they teach those workshops.
As for me, I’m that person who sees something interesting and becomes obsessed with learning about it. How it was made, what materials, techniques, design, and care was put into it. I go to the library and check out 5-10 books on it, I research online, and I experiment until I feel satisfied that I understand the craft and can work comfortably in that discipline.
I have been making things, teaching myself, and learning new techniques my whole life. My entire family is creative, but no one ever tried to make creativity a life sustaining career, so it was just accepted that art was for fun on the weekends and evenings and the real focus was on getting a job and coping with life. Both my parents are 100% DIY people with the skill, creativity and determination to actually pull it off. My mom is an artist, crafter, perfectionist at decorating, maker of displays, and elevates all occasions to something amazing. My dad was an Air Force pilot for my entire childhood, builds things, fixes things, and sews (he made me a parka when we lived in Alaska for far below zero temperatures, an evening dress for my mom, impressive Halloween costumes and several amazing other things). So, the point is that I was raised learning and doing and making as an integral part of life. We mended and made things ourselves because we could. And why waste things? Also, making things ourselves let us customize so many things to exactly what we wanted.
Friends have always seemed amazed and take it for granted that I was the “nerdy crafty” one. I’ve taught several friends how to quilt, taught art to kids, and used to train young accountant minds in my CPA life. Since I’m always learning / teaching myself, it helps me teach others because I am still close enough to my own learning pain points to help students work through that and make it a more relaxed experience. Or at least that’s the feedback they give me.
How is Studio How-To different?
Studio How-To is focused on learning and having a full experience. When you take a class at the studio, you’re going to roll up your sleeves, possibly get dirty, and learn each step of your project and learn specific to your desires. The goal is both to learn the whole process of your craft and to appreciate the things you use and buy everyday. When you learn to sew or knit, you get intimate with all the steps that go into the garments and accessories you buy and you start to see them differently. You learn why prices vary, what makes something good quality, and what makes a design better. When you learn how to print by hand, you realize how much effort goes into design and execution, and why hand printed items are more expensive than mass produced machine printed items. Even if you just take one class, you can have fun and expand the way you see the world. Will you be an expert with one workshop? No, but you will hopefully leave with enough knowledge to keep making and building on what you learned.
Do you sell the things you make? Do you sell supplies?
Not much. I don’t enjoy making the same thing repeatedly and I like doing so many different things that focusing on a few products just doesn’t make sense for me. Plus, there are so many amazing makers out there, I prefer to enjoy what they make, purchase from them, buy their patterns, take their classes, and be inspired by them. I do carry a few things from local makers at the Studio. I display my own work as well, but mostly as examples for workshops.
I don’t currently sell supplies as a standalone item. I hope to sell kits based on our workshops soon. However, for now, supplies are basically available as part of the workshops. For most workshops, I provide all the materials, supplies, tools, etc. as a package deal with the instruction so that you get a very easy experience of dropping in, having fun learning, and then leaving with your sweet project. And there are numerous great places around town and online that already curate beautiful collections of supplies. For now, I prefer to focus on the workshops and helping you learn what to do with all the things and where to find inspiring new things. I am happy to direct you to my favorite local and online shops.
Why do you do this?
Weirdly I just really like helping people learn how to make things. I love learning how to make things and people so often just looked shocked and overwhelmed when I explain that I made my clothes, purse, hat, couch cover, curtains, etc. Then, they follow-up with “I could never do that.” But the thing is they can, and sometimes they actually let me teach them. The look on their face and their verbal outpouring of amazement at what they accomplished is totally worth it.
I feel like humans spend too much time indoors, on their screens and not really appreciating or actually doing things. Reading about something and watching a video is not the same as going somewhere, touching, creating, and experiencing. I want to help people reconnect with that part of life and find some fulfilling outlets. And maybe I just want to have a few more friends to come over to the studio and hang out while we make things.
I hope this helped you and I look forward to meeting you if you haven’t been by the studio yet.