While winter can be crowded with school and extracurricular commitments, summer offers kids a little more time and space to get creative. This summer there are many hands-on visual art options available for Madison kids. Some studios even offer drop-in sessions, so kiddos can dabble - without their parents making a big time or money commitment.
Midwest Clay Project
918 Williamson St., 608-255-9240
Midwest Clay Project offers several opportunities for pint-sized potters. Rather than telling kids what to make, "we give them an opportunity to use their imagination," explains owner Jennifer Lapham.
This is the studio's first summer in operation. It offers open time daily for kids from toddlers to teens. Sessions are $10 for 75 minutes and involve staff-supervised work with clay. Children younger than 5 generally should be accompanied by an adult. The studio also holds Family Fridays some Friday evenings, as well as classes such as a tween and teen wheel throwing series. Discounted punch cards are available, as well as a sibling discount. For drop-in times, see the MCP website.
Lakeside Community Arts
404 W. Lakeside St., 608-772-1547
Launched this June, Lakeside Community Arts (also known as SEW) is located in the small building next to Lakeside Fibers and the Washington Hotel Coffee Room.
Retired sewer Lisa Fike holds Kids Can Sew classes most weekday afternoons, in addition to adult sewing instruction and independent study. The shop has 10 sewing machines on which students practice. "I use the grandmother style of sewing, which is all encouragement, especially for beginners," says Fike. "Technique is not critical to me. Fun is critical to me."
Fike gets beginners comfortable and helps them build sewing skills by using simple patterns. She accepts about five children per class, depending on age and skill level. Beginner class pricing, $25 per two-hour session, includes all materials.
Monroe Street Fine Arts Center
256 Monroe St., 608-232-1510
This 14-year-old art and music destination just expanded into the former Pasqual's restaurant space next door. That added 800 square feet of sorely needed room. Part of the new area is a drop-in Open Art Studio intended for kids 6-15, open every weekday from 3 to 5 p.m.
Art teacher Beth Jesion notes that here, "Kids can explore art they don't do at home." Projects will be set up in stations, including jewelry-making, painting, creating objects using Sculpey clay, even origami. Classes cost $15 per session with a reduced sibling rate of $10. Advance registration suggested.
Atwood Art Room
2021 Atwood Ave., 608-819-6302
Formed this spring by art teachers and east-side moms Jennifer James and Katie Mead Griffiths, the Art Room has summer art offerings for kids ages 3-18, held in small groups. Some camps are still open, and a camp for young teens may be added.
James says that she and Griffiths recognized the need for something similar to the Monroe Street center on the east side: "We realized that neither one of us had gone across town to take our kids there. There is a niche for something like that here, too."
In half- and full-day classes, kids use creative skills in mixed media, exploring such topics as animals in art, ceramics and recycled creations. Prices vary depending on class length.
Higher Fire Clay Studio
2132 Regent St., 608-233-3050
Higher Fire has been offering kids and adults clay classes for 13 years. This summer, Clay for Kids camps continue for children 5 and older. Teens can join adult sessions. Studio owner Linda Leighton says kids can sign up for a whole series or one class at a time; however, these are not drop-in sessions.
Higher Fire emphasizes the creative aspect of clay over technique. "We give kids a lot of latitude in what they want to make," Leighton says. Price depends on the number of classes taken.
Fired Up Pottery & Glass
4112 Monona Dr., 608-442-9900
Fired Up moved to its new site in the Lake Edge Shopping Center last October after five years on Cottage Grove Road. Summer Art Club sessions are available for kids 5 and up to create their own pottery, paint ready-made objects or make fused glass objects. Drop-ins are welcome any time for pottery painting (free) or for clay and wheel creations for $8. Fired Up will also be at the Henry Vilas Zoo July 29 as part of the zoo's summer centennial celebration activities.
This popular, free outdoor art project station, a joint venture of Madison School & Community Recreation and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, got a brand new look this year. Its familiar blue painted van has been replaced with a white 2011 Mercedes Sprinter thanks to an anonymous donation. It's embellished with monkeys painted by a Madison third-grader.
If you haven't yet seen it, look for it this summer at parks across Madison. Find all 90 scheduled stops at www.mmoca.org.
You don't need to leave your home, of course, to be creative. Madison's own Artterro has taken the guesswork out of at-home projects by creating a variety of eco-friendly art kits. Each kit contains an open-ended art project that can engage two to three people for a morning or afternoon.
"It's convenient and foolproof, because we start with beautiful materials," explains Artterro cofounder Jennifer Conn. Popular seasonal choices include a Garden Art kit, Bubble Wand kit, Wire and Bead kit and a new Wool Felt Bug kit. The "Creativity" kit includes a sampling of materials so young artists can dabble. Artterro kits are sold at local retailers including Willy Street Co-op, Whoops! and Playthings.