In the past few years, the idea of attending an art class to not only tap into your creative side, but also relax with friends and have a drink or two along the way has become very popular. The majority of these studios focus only on painting. That is why, when ArtCenter Manatee (formerly known as The Art League) joined in on this popular idea in 2012 they added their own twist.
As an art studio and gallery, the ArtCenter has an expansive collection of artistic resources. For their classes, an array of subjects are offered, from holiday card-making to more unique opportunities like working with polymer clay. This series of classes is called “Night Out”. The name has recently changed from “Girls Night Out” because the ArtCenter wanted all local artists and craft enthusiasts to feel welcome to attend! I participated in their polymer clay class with instructor Kim Hale.
What I loved most about the polymer clay class was that you can have any level of artistic ability to participate and have fun! The instructor, Kim, prepared the clay for the class by kneading it into a more workable state. The most helpful tool in this process, according to Kim, is a pasta maker; it is an easy way to smooth out the clay. By using the different settings on the machine, you can make the clay various thicknesses.
After this process, the clay is ready to work with! To give participants (or fellow artists as Kim called us) a starting point, Kim brought examples of flowers she has made out of the clay. Along with the finished product, Kim also brought all the tools necessary to create a flower or anything else you could think of; I stuck with the flower.
While this was not my first time working with polymer clay, I was glad to have the aid of the numerous stencils and stamps Kim had available to bring our creations to life! Some people in the class used all of the tools and tricks to create a beautiful flower, while others relied on the preformed flower stencils to create a simple, but still beautiful flower to take home.
Throughout the class, Kim emphasized how easy it is to work with polymer clay at home. This includes the baking process as well. Unlike traditional clay, polymer clay does not need a kiln to set and harden. Polymer clay can be simply baked in a traditional kitchen oven or even a portable toaster oven! Most of us used the toaster oven Kim brought to the studio, but others who spent a long time perfecting their masterpiece took it home to bake in their oven. At a range of 265 to 275 degrees, polymer clay takes only about 30 minutes to harden into a finished product!
Recently, the ArtCenter has received requests to hold special “Night Out” events both off site and in their studios. This is an idea they are both receptive too and excited about! With their continued efforts to renovate the facility over the past few years, special events like these, as well as renting out their galleries for small events, are all things they are hoping to add to their business. This not only helps draw people to the ArtCenter to have a good time, but it also may help draw them back either to shop at the Artists Market boutique or sign up for one of the many other art classes they have available!
“Night Out” classes are held once a month on a Friday night at the ArtCenter from 7 to 9 p.m. The next class will be in September. For $35, participants get all of the materials they need for the class, as well as snacks, beverages, individualized instruction from a local artist, and a new piece of artwork to take home! With Kim’s assistance, I turned my flower into a magnet so it hangs on my refrigerator at home so I can enjoy it every day. Because alcohol is served at the “Night Out” classes, participants must be 21 years old or older to attend.
Continue to follow me this summer through my many adventures in downtown Bradenton!