Four Local Workshops Offer Inspiration When It’s Needed Most
As we pass the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., many of us can say we have spent the extra time at home tackling new projects. However, many of us can also say we have learned that brainstorming and acquiring materials for these endeavors can cause major burnout.
In the past year, several local DIY workshops in Central Virginia—with their expanded, pandemic-friendly offerings—have become an outlet for those wishing to create meaningful and beautiful home décor, without all of the guesswork and legwork. Regardless of your desired DIY experience, inspiration is teeming in and around the Lynchburg community and is only a mouse click—or short drive—away.
For those seeking an at-home DIY experience without spending hours scouring Pinterest for ideas and deciding on materials at home improvement and craft stores, take-home kits are ideal. For a more social experience, you may want to consider signing up for a virtual class or arranging a virtual party so you and a group of friends can delve into your kits and create together.
Board & Brush Creative Studio in Forest now offers BB@home kits that include everything you’ll need, including tools, to create your own custom wood sign.
“The BB@home kits are perfect because they come with everything you need to complete the project!” says owner Stefanie Feese. “Your board comes already stained and your stencil is ready to be applied. You get paint, sponges, cups for mixing paint, sandpaper for distressing, a B&B sticker for the back of the board, a color mixing guide to help create desired colors, and a full page of instructions, complete with pictures!”
Feese adds that Board & Brush has sold the kits for art classes for children doing virtual school, for birthday parties, and for people of all ages simply looking for a rewarding new activity. Virtual workshops are also available.
AR Workshop Lynchburg, which offers a wide variety of DIY projects, opened in November 2020. As such, kits and virtual events were immediately an integral part of the local workshop’s offerings even though they were new to AR Workshop as a corporate entity.
“The pandemic truly made us think outside the box on how we could better serve our community and continue to create a DIY outlet for them,” says owner Jessica Herndon. “Our DIY kits include all materials including stencils, wood, a PrimARy Paint Essentials Kit, brushes, and instructions. Our PrimARy Paint Essentials Kit includes a color-mixing guide to give you endless color options!”
If painting is your passion, Imagination Station Studio in Forest has a couple of kit options for you. “Our Take Home Kits include everything you need to create a project,” says co-owner Gladys Attin. “Ceramic kits include a ceramic character, a set of paints, a paintbrush, and an apron. Paint at Your Own Pace kits include a pre-drawn canvas, paints, brushes, an apron, and a video tutorial that will go step by step for you.” Imagination Station also offers Zoom parties and art camps.
Like AR Workshop, Lynchburg home décor workshop Blue Mountain Barn opened in June of last year and thus had to quickly find its footing during the pandemic. Co-owners Tressa Sariñana and her daughter, Ashtyn, are working to expand their kit offerings, but they are focused primarily on offering small in-house DIY experiences.
“We began to offer classes right away,” Sariñana says. “We offer them in an intimate setting of usually five to eight people. We make sure to space appropriately, wear masks, and have the appropriate PPE on hand. The intimate setting we offer creates a cozy, warm atmosphere. We have a fireplace and a big screen TV with HGTV or the DIY Network on.”
Individuals and groups of two or three people are able to stop by and create whenever the workshop is open, and groups of five or more people are encouraged to reserve exclusive times to come create.
Although DIY class sizes have decreased across the board due to the pandemic, local workshop owners are taking the changes in stride.
“I will admit that I have loved the smaller class sizes,” says Feese. “I thoroughly enjoy the relationships that are built in the smaller setting. You are creating a piece that will be on display in your home, and in the process, you will also be creating memories with the people you choose to attend the workshop with.”
She adds that the most popular class at Board & Brush is currently the PYP (Pick Your Project) class. “These workshops allow each person who registers to select and create their own piece rather than everyone making the same thing,” she notes. “Half of the fun is looking around the room and getting ideas for your next project!”
Herndon says that in-person classes at AR Workshop have continued to thrive because of an enduring desire for connection. “As humans we long to connect with others,” she says.
“Our workshops are such a great way to get together and share laughs, memories, and lots of sawdust! I love the laughter and smiles the shop brings people.”
She notes that porch-related projects such as signs, doormats, pillows, and door hangers have been popular lately because “there is nothing better than a refreshed porch to come home to.”
At Imagination Station, paint nights are now limited to 16 people with precautions in place and two-hour time slots for small private parties are available. Attin hopes that their projects—whether done at the workshop or at home—are therapeutic. “Painting can help you experience and express feelings, gain skills and confidence, and learn coping skills that will provide an outlet for stress,” she says.
Regardless of the particular DIY experience you choose, local workshops can help you find the perfect balance of creativity and connection. “DIY is very important because of the many things it can accomplish,” says Sariñana. “DIY is not just a trend, a meme, or initials. It offers an outlet and provides people with a sense of purpose and a sense of community. Helping people explore their own creativity is so rewarding.”