Despite being together for 6 years already, Donny and I still make it a tradition to go out on dates at every chance we get. Usually, these excursions fall on the weekend, and we plan throughout the week where we’d like to go eat or do. Mostly, we go for coffee dates and a nice meal out for lunch or dinner. Since the start of the new year, I’ve been itching to do something more productive and interactive than just restaurant-hopping from place to place.
One of my favourite past times is arts and crafts. There’s nothing more rewarding than to make something with your own two hands, whether it be baking, cooking, knitting, sewing, painting, etc. After looking around for affordable programs around town, I found 4Cats Arts Studio, which offers seasonal clay-work and painting workshops.
Their multiple locations make it easy for me to access their studio, and there are family-friendly classes ranging from mug and dishware kiln-fired clay workshops, clay wheel workshops for bowls and plates, cute oven-bake clay workshops, and painting workshops. For kids, they have seasonal camps available, as well as parties and field trips, and for adults, there are clay, painting, and pouring parties! I love how there is something for everyone, and you can see people from all ages and genders attend these workshops.
How do you get started? Here are some steps to help you along:
STEP ONE: BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT
Book a workshop! You can find a full list of their current workshops on the 4Cats website. Once you decide on one, click into the page, and select the main studio location that you’d like to work in. This will take you to the next screen, where you will Book a time slot.
It is important to select the correct amount of Participants from the dropdown list (1 for single, 2 for double), if you would like to get their couples’ deal. Also, please pay attention to the Workshop Name, since all of the clay workshops are listed, and not just the one you chose.
Next, mark it on your calendar and be excited for your class!
STEP TWO: ATTEND THE WORKSHOP
Arrive early or on-time for the workshop. There will be a live, 15-minute demo from a staff member at the start, so if you’re inexperienced with clay, it’s best to not arrive late. You have around 1 hour and 15 minutes to sculpt your clay, so it’s good to keep an eye on the time.
For me, time flew like crazy the first time around, and I felt that I spent way too much time trying to perfect my base when it really doesn’t matter too much.
My tips for first-timers are:
- Sketch out on paper what kind of design you want for your project. This saves time when you decorate the clay, and you can imagine how it’ll turn out before it’s even dried and painted!
- Make sure your base (and handle, if you have one) is secure, with the appropriate steps given by the staff.
- Ensure that the clay doesn’t have cracks on the sides and bottom by keeping it slightly moist at all times.
- The base should take around 30 minutes, which leaves more time for the fun parts – decorations!
If you run out of clay or need some tips on how to fix a problem you’re having, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask a staff member for some help. And by chance, if you need more time, you may be able to stay a bit longer if they have space for you.
When you’re finished, leave it on their tray and wait for it to dry for 4-10 days.
STEP THREE: GLAZING YOUR CLAY
After a few days, the studio will send you an email notification that your clay is fully dried and ready to be decorated. Conveniently, you can also check the status of your clay and book your glazing time on their website! Please note that you should choose the same location for glazing as your original workshop location from your first visit.
Glazing time is complimentary with your workshop purchase, so you can book more than once within the 2 weeks after they email you. A quick note that projects cannot be held more than that time period, since they have limited space to store everyone’s work.
When you arrive for glazing, it’s basically self-directed. You get an hour to paint and decorate to your heart’s desire!
Don’t worry if your colours look a bit faded, even after 2 coats, because they get much darker and more opaque after baking in the kiln. For reference, they have a small wall of before-and-after examples for each colour near the clock.
The coatings of glaze you paint over is meant to look all blue, so don’t freak out because your colours are safe! The glaze basically ensures that the project is more protected from scratches and food-safe for the kitchen. I also feel like it helps seal in all the little cracks, so that it’s less likely to leak, and seems much more durable after it’s baked.
When you’re done, simply place it on the tray and wait for them to be baked. A sign above the drying trays will indicate how many days the clay will be ready for pickup. Please keep a note on your calendar for this date, because you will not get an email notifying when your clay is finished at this point!
STEP FOUR: PICK UP YOUR CLAY
Self-explanatory, but you just drop in any time when the studio is open, and look for your clay in the front. A staff member will help you look for it if you need help, and it’s also a good chance to see what everyone has been making this month! I always get tons of great ideas looking from other peoples’ projects, and it encourages me to be more creative next time as well.
Here’s how ours came out!
We had so much fun doing this! I found it as a great stress reliever where you can kind of just turn your brain off of work and responsibilities, and just focus your entire mind on creating something new. It’s also a sweet addition to our kitchen, and I feel like we’re making really great memories without breaking the bank.
It may be a surprise to some to find out that this isn’t a 1-day workshop, but a workshop that spans 2-3 sessions on separate days, with waiting time in-between. But honestly, it doesn’t take that long, and we always find things to do before or after our workshops, such as having coffee or going for another event. The prices are relatively low, and the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly, which makes this a perfect place for date night, girls’ night out, or a fun activity with a friend or for your kids.
- Plan designs ahead of time!
- Workshops are 2-3 sessions
- Arrive early or on-time for demo
- Affordable fun for all ages
- Friendly staff and studio
- Various accessible locations
- Has programs for kids and adults
4Cats Arts Studio (Main St)
3573 Main St
Vancouver, V5V 1M1
Mon – Tues Closed
Wed – Fri 1:00pm – 7:00pm
Weekends 10:30am – 7:00pm