Life in the twenty-first century tends to privilege working with one’s mind over working with one’s hands. Use your brain (and body) a little differently by signing up for a class with one of the organizations listed below. By Jessica Allen.
Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center
The 4,000-square-foot Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center in Long Island City includes a glaze mixing room, glaze application room, wheel throwing room, kiln room, mixed use studio, handbuilding classroom, garden, and retail emporium selling things made on site. Its year-round pottery classes cater to adult beginners, intermediates, and experts, and there’s a separate area for independent ceramicists. You can also sign up for “benchtime,” during which students can work in the studios without instructor supervision.
Lower East Side Printshop
As the largest printmaking workspace in the United States, Lower East Side Printshop hosts and helps hundreds of artists each year, by offering workshops, classes, studio space, stipends, residency programs, exhibitions, and internships in the fine arts of printing, and has done so since its opening in 1968. In 2005 it left its original downtown space but kept the name and moved into a huge facility in midtown Manhattan. Here you can master moku hanga (traditional Japanese water-based woodblocking), screenprinting, and intaglio, among other methods.
Gowanus Furniture Co.
Gowanus Furniture Co. operates under the guiding principle that “[w]e can have well-designed, locally made products that are a good value and will last through successive moves to new homes.” Founder Peter Raho began making cutting boards in 2011, and has since moved onto bike racks, lighting fixtures, and many types of storage systems. At his Make Your Own Custom Cutting Board class held at woodworking mecca Makeville Studio, you and a friend will spend two evenings contemplating grain patterns, gluing, sanding, applying finish, and maybe even monogramming.
Looking to inspire a little DIY in everybody, as well as to foster community, Brooklyn ARTery offers lots and lots of reasonably priced classes that let you get your hands paint-splattered, clay-covered, yarn-tangled, pen- or pencil-marked, and even rice-immersed. Classes in pickles and mustard, kimchi and sauerkraut, piano improv, sushi making, knitting, sewing, kite-making and book-binding are held at a variety of locations, including the Ditmas Park shop, Hudson River Park, and Governors Island.
You can’t talk about working with your hands in NYC without mentioning 3rd Ward. This epicenter of learning-by-doing in Brooklyn has classes and studio space for just about every creative endeavor under the sun, from knife skills to lumber milling to generator building to bicycle mechanics to photo etching to perfume blending. Overwhelmed by your options? Take a tour—you’ll learn about the many educational programs and spaces available, and receive a $25 gift card good toward a class as well as a free day in the co-working space. Win-win-win.