Hands-on Fun at 4Cats Art Studio

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Cutting out the basic ornament shape from a template creates a standard shape, but the creation of other parts such as eyes and nose allows for improvisation.
Cutting out the basic ornament shape from a template creates a standard shape, but the creation of other parts such as eyes and nose allows for improvisation.

Hands-on Fun at 4Cats Art Studio

It is so very nice to make Christmas gifts. Nothing is as heartwarming as taking the time and effort to make something to give to another person. I don’t make all my Christmas presents, but I do like to give a few that I’ve made myself, whether it be cookies, tasty popcorn or a voucher offering my snow shoveling services. This year, I wanted to make some tree ornaments. So I Googled ornament workshops and found 4Cats Art Studio in the Junction offered such a workshop, Trim The Tree – and in my neighbourhood too! They have studios across Canada, U.S.A. and Australia so you might find a studio close to you, too.

Miriam, the instructor for the Trim The Tree workshop, said we could make four of the ornaments or we could even venture to make something of our own design. None us were that adventurous – we stuck to the designs laid out before us. Owls seem to be really “in” now – you can find owl designs on everything and everywhere. And my mother loves owls and has had a passion for them her whole life. So, naturally, my first ornament was the owl. I was wondering if it would be difficult to make an ornament that shape, but it isn’t. All you have to do is roll out the clay, press on the template so that the clay has the template markings and then trim clay with the tools provided. Very simple.

Clockwise from left: bear, conductor (or a nutcracker?), owl, bird, fox
Clockwise from left: bear, conductor (or a nutcracker?), owl, bird, fox

Whenever I make crafts, I always put some individualistic touches on my pieces. I never aim to make something that looks like an exact replica of someone else’s creation. The point of making something is that it has some essence of yourself or, at least, some creative flourish.

Check out my clay owl with larger eyes and an almost human-shaped nose. Okay…the nose shape was not intentional. Surprises happen 🙂

Cutting out the basic ornament shape from a template creates a standard shape, but the creation of other parts such as eyes and nose allows for improvisation.
Cutting out the basic ornament shape from a template creates a standard shape, but the creation of other parts such as eyes and nose allows for improvisation.

Workshops like these at 4Cats Art Studio are great as a social outing. While working, we chatted about our holiday parties and we discussed dress options for various events. We talked about menus and drooled over discussion of recipes.

Miriam told us that we were doing well for time and suggested we may want to make five ornaments. That was great because I wanted to make them all!

I'm painting my clay ornaments at 4Cats Art Studio.
I’m painting my clay ornaments at 4Cats Art Studio.

I found time was rushing by and I still had to paint each piece four or five times to achhieve the vibrant colours. Painting just one or two layers makes for a weak colour. I asked Miriam about the weak colour on the bird and she explained the colour intensifies when the clay is baked. The paint takes very little time to dry between coats, but I didn’t have a strategy in place to paint all five pieces in the few minutes that remained. I focused on making sure they all have pupils or eyes. We all got quiet towards the end of the workshop as we got into the creative zone.

You can get as creative as you want with the painting. It looks like I was getting creative with the fox by painting him yellow, but the reality is that it was just an accident. A creative accident I say 🙂

The instructor was clear, helpful and attentive. The only downside of the workshop was that I could not finish painting my ornaments because I made five instead of four and, I guess, I worked too slowly.

My painted clay decorations from 4Cats Art Studio, Toronto
My painted clay decorations from Trim The Tree workshop at 4Cats Art Studio

The ornaments will be fired in the oven and ready to pick up anywhere from a few days up to two weeks. Stay tuned to see what my ornaments will look like!

Trim the Tree workshops are also offered as a family workshop or kid-only workshop. Check out the other hands-on creative programs at 4Cats Art Studio in the Junction such as Warholiday Card Making or Polar Coaster. Have a birthday party inspired by Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe or Vincent van Gogh.

4Cats Art Studio, 1615 Dupont Street, 647-479-3120 or email TheJunction@4cats.com