Confession: I am not a crafter or an artistically inclined person.
I mean, I like arts and crafts. I appreciate them. But if I can draw a stick figure that looks like — well, a stick figure — I’m having a good day. Making art just isn’t one of my strengths.
But as the gift-giving season approaches, I started thinking about some of the most precious gifts I have received through the years. The ones that spring to mind are homemade, handmade works of art, created for me by people I love. They aren’t complicated; they aren’t large. But the love behind them and the fact that they were made just for me make them treasures.
In this season of giving, homemade gifts are worth considering, even if you have never crafted or created anything before.
Fortunately for me and others like me, the Flathead Valley is brimming with some incredibly talented artists and makers; a vibrant arts community that also offers support through classes, workshops and open times, giving even the artistically challenged folks the chance to make art.
STUMPTOWN ART Studio in Whitefish is one such arts environment. Artists of any age and any ability can walk in every day of the week to find a plethora of creative options available for the making.
“We are open every day and offer projects in pottery [painting], glass fusing and mosaics,” said Stumptown’s Executive Director Melanie Drown. “We have a lot of holiday stuff right now, and we are always able to assist with projects, even outside a formal class.”
Stumptown Art Studio is a nonprofit arts center that has been helping people tap into their creativity since 1995. In addition to walk-in projects, the organization also offers a wide variety of classes, workshops and outreach programs.
One of the studio’s ongoing programs is Wild Women Wednesdays, which welcomes individuals or groups for after-hours art-making, wine-drinking and fun-having.
“I’m not artistic but the girls are here to help,” said Fafa Heitert, a participant at November’s Wild Women Wednesday event. “It’s a very warm and relaxing atmosphere, and the creative juices just start flowing. Maybe there is something artistic inside.”
Heitert, from Kalispell, said she was a first-time visitor to Stumptown and was with a group of friends celebrating a birthday.
“It’s just a fun night out,” said one of Heitert’s friends, Joanne Lybeck. “It’s a chance to tap into your own personal creativity.”
Drown said one of the benefits of the center is the availability for groups to come in and create art together.
“When you’re with friends, your inhibitions melt away a little bit,” Drown said.
In addition to scheduled events, she added that groups are welcome to book private after-hour offerings. She said it can be an informal party or business event — the center offers opportunities for it all.
LYBECK WAS making a fused-glass, Christmas-themed appetizer tray on Wild Women Wednesday. She said she hadn’t decided who she was going to gift it to yet.
“It’s so much more personal to make a gift for someone,” Lybeck said. “You’re giving a part of yourself because you created it.”
“If someone takes the time to make something, it speaks volumes,” Drown said. “It’s easy to go on Amazon and purchase a gift, but it’s not as special — not as personal.”
Laura Faber-Morris, of Whitefish, who also claimed to be an art amateur, was painting an ornament at the event.
“I’m making my new baby nephew his first Christmas ornament,” Faber-Morris said. “There’s so much junk to buy ... This is more meaningful, it’s more fun and it comes from thoughtfulness.
“As imperfect as that is,” she said, gesturing to the partially painted ornament, “there’s nothing else like it.”
Stumptown Art Studio has several more classes coming up before the end of the year, including an adult glass-fusing holiday ornament class Nov. 29 and Santa’s Workshop, a weeklong children’s program, from Dec. 11 through 15. A full class list, descriptions and prices can be found online at http://www.stumptownartstudio.org.
Stumptown Art Studio is located at 145 Central Ave., Whitefish. Walk-in hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 406-862-5929.
Even if you have no artistic background or experience, Faber-Morris said the best thing is to “just do it; surprise yourself. Making art is the ultimate present moment. It’s the only thing you’re focused on and that in and of itself is a gift.”
Arts and entertainment editor Stefanie Thompson can be reached at 758-4439 or ThisWeek@dailyinterlake.com.