Local classes, studios offer projects for DIYers

Etched glasses, terrariums and other vessels such as this one are designed at SpaceCraft Studios.

Somewhere in Manhattan is a young man with contemporary tastes and an antique dresser.

In Mount Pleasant, his mother is preparing to travel there and paint the dresser so that it will complement the more contemporary pieces he is drawn to.

Kathy Fischer recently spent a Saturday morning in a beginner’s furniture painting class designed to help people like her re-create a piece that someone would be proud to live with. She brought along a friend, Brenda Frye, who admires what Fischer is doing for her son, and wants to learn some furniture painting skills, too.

“I like the idea of taking something you were going to throw out and making something else,” Fischer says. “Now, it’s not all matchy-matchy but about things going well together. Styles change so much.”

The two are among four women, including Angela Yu of Johns Island, and her mother, Susan Spitzer from Greenville, attending the class at Charleston Revisions in Mount Pleasant.

Yu, who shops garage and estate sales, has picked up some bedroom furniture she plans to paint. Spitzer is a fan of shabby chic and expects what she learns in the class to take her decorating to the next level.

All of the women are contributing to the trend to reuse, save money and feel the sense of accomplishment that can come from owning a piece they’ve given new life to.

Laurie Cooper, owner of Charleston Revisions, leads them through the steps involved in using the popular Annie Sloan chalk paint. They are drawn to the class because the paint has a reputation for requiring little prep work and for adhering to just about everything.

During a practice session that teaches them differences between techniques for painting modern and rustic furniture, Cooper intersperses tips about tools.

She tells them about sponges, rollers and shop rags as well as more fun stuff such as how to gild molding, paint polka dots on pillows and provide a new take on French Provincial pieces that were stuck in the past.

Studios such as Charleston Revisions and big-box, craft and furniture stores around the Lowcountry are providing opportunities for homeowners to become better do-it-yourselfers.

Caroline O’Neal loves the painting of the bottle tree hanging in her bathroom. O’Neal, who considers herself to be someone with little creativity, never dreamed she could produce a piece she would be proud to hang in her living space.

But she has.

“It gives me kind of a cool sense of accomplishment,” she says.

O’Neal’s inner artist emerged during an evening at Bottles ‘N Brushes in West Ashley, an art studio where professional artists teach the uninitiated to produce a painting they can take home the same evening. Like the bottle tree, many of the scenes featured during the sessions have roots in the Lowcountry.

“I’ve been several times,” O’Neal says.

The Johns Island native, who has moved to Columbia, goes to Bottle ‘N Brushes with friends for a girl’s night out when in town. Other paintings she’s done include those of Lowcountry wildlife such as a duck flying over the marsh.

The studio is a social environment where the artists make instructions easy to follow, O’Neal says.

Alyssa Maute, CEO of Bottle ‘N Brushes, says they offer adult sip and paint classes.

“You can bring a friend and have a beer or some wine or a soda. We teach you painting step-by-step. Every night, we feature a different painting. Most people sign up for class based on the painting, which is displayed on our website.

“It is an opportunity to paint a Charleston or Lowcountry scene that they may have the perfect spot for hanging,” she says.

Most of the people who come are women from their late 20s to early 50s, Maute says. But the studio also offers couples classes. One is a Picasso couple’s class where two people, not necessarily significant others, sit across from each other and paint each other Picasso style.

While the studio sells beer, wine and soda, those who take the classes can bring their own, Maute says. They also are welcome to bring appetizers to eat during the classes.

While Heather Powers has done many art projects, she had never done glass etching until she took a class at SpaceCraft Studios in Avondale, she says.

Powers says glasses, tankards and other containers, including terrariums, can be etched with a favorite stencil design to make attractive home furnishings. The studio uses a machine to cut the stencils, which avoids the need to use a blade, she says. As someone with a design background, she can appreciate being able to avoid a step that often can be tedious, she says.

“The classes at SpaceCraft are geared to learning a technique and completing a project using that technique during the class,” Powers says. “The fun part is that you can walk out of one of the classes with a finished project whether you knew the skills going in or not.”

In addition to the glass-etching class, SpaceCraft Studios is offering classes on how to make items for use indoors and out, says owner Allison Merrick.

Those interested in bringing nature into their living environment have been taking SpaceCraft’s popular terrarium class, which focuses on planting succulents, Merrick says. The classes are taught by Master Gardeners who are able to provide the answers needed for success.

In addition to the terrarium class, the studio will be offering a class on making seed bombs, little balls of compost and native wildflowers, Merrick says.

It’s an easy way to introduce vegetation to your yard or to small areas that could benefit from a little color. A range of other classes, some involving fabrics, are offered at SpaceCraft, too.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.