Arts and crafts camp for grownups
February 2, 2024 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Often when I travel I like to go to a place to do a specific thing like attend a music festival or something. I have been thinking it would be fun to go somewhere to take crafting lessons.

My ideal scenario would be some kind of beginner friendly retreat where I could try a bunch of different activities - papercraft, jewelry, fiber, specialty sewing (I can already sew garments), fibre arts (other than knitting which I am already very good at but don't really do any more), 3d printing, pottery, printmaking, etc - but I would also be interested in, say, a week long beginner workshop in just one thing.

I took a week long intro to glass blowing last year in my home town and that was cool. Or a friend took a week long shoemaking class once, that would be neat.

For daydreaming sake, anywhere in North America or Europe as long as the class are in English, though Canada and the US are more likely.

Where should I go and what should I do?
posted by jacquilynne to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
You could try looking for state sheep & wool festivals in your area or places you'd like to travel. This might not be quite what you want if you're looking for more of a small retreat feel, but they typically have a huge variety of different types of classes available, including weaving, spinning, dyeing, and possibly even papermaking as that can use things like silk and other fibers.
posted by augustimagination at 7:05 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

There are actually a variety of Arts & Crafts colleges around the country. Penland, for example, offers some short session workshops. They seem to be more focused on one activity than a variety at once, but it's a start...

The American Craft Council has some more listings for you.
posted by hydra77 at 7:07 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]

Oh my goodness, this is your lucky day. There are some incredible places! I've been to these two:
- John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC
- Snow Farm in Williamsburg, MA

Both offer weekend and week-long classes in a variety of craft areas (usually focused on one topic, but sometimes providing an introduction to various techniques within the craft). They also offer lodging and meals (although it is not required) and are both in bucolic rural settings.

I also know people who have gone to, or taught at, these:
- Arromont School in Gatlinburg, TN
- Peters Valley School of Craft in New Jersey
- Penland School in North Carolina (note, Penland is generally considered more intensive and less for beginners/all levels than the others I'm listing)
- Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine
- Waterford Craft School in Virginia

I live in the southeast, so most of the ones I know are on this side of the country - but there are schools like this all over the country. Search for residential craft programs, and members of the Folk School Alliance.

Another concept to look into is Vacation WIth An Artist

Have the best time exploring!!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:08 PM on February 2 [13 favorites]

Oh! I couldn't think of the term for this while typing up my earlier comment but Folk Schools would be a great search term! One I know of in WI that has a string reputation is Sievers School of Fiber Arts. I've never attended, but it's on my dream craft retreat list for someday.
posted by augustimagination at 7:10 PM on February 2

In breathtakingly gorgeous Telluride, Colorado, the American Academy of Bookbinding has a five-day Introduction to Bookbinding course. The next one is at the end of April.

I've been daydreaming about that one, myself.
posted by mochapickle at 7:32 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Folk school! Here's a list.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:33 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Lucky Star Art Camp:
posted by leastlikelycowgirl at 7:36 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Haystack, mentioned above, is maybe the most beautiful campus in the world. I went there as a kid because my parent was teaching a workshop and it was actually idyllic. As an adult my sister did a summer workshop and reported that it’s still the most amazing place she’s been.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:41 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

West Dean in the UK.
posted by paduasoy at 9:40 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]

I've done a Paper Conservation class at American Academy of Bookbinding and can confirm it is wonderful. Hoping to go again soon for a Leather Fine Binding session.
posted by ikahime at 10:18 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Skyros - I have never been but have heard it recommended by a couple of people who have taught there.

Come to London and take one or two back-to-back Short Courses at Central Saint Martin’s. The quality of teaching is high - I have taken several such courses - and the college can help you to organise accommodation.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 11:29 PM on February 2 [2 favorites] is currently selling tickets for their second annual retreat.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 1:09 AM on February 3

Shake Rag Alley!
posted by picopebbles at 4:24 AM on February 3

What a great question. Came in to say Haystack; Maine is excellent in the summer. Haystack is very well-regarded with well-credentialed faculty.
The Univ. of So. Maine hosts a Book Arts workshop. Portland is a great place to visit, Maine is, as noted, excellent in the summer.
posted by theora55 at 8:56 AM on February 3

Grand Marais, MN is home to the North House Folk School. I can't vouch for the school, but I can vouch for Grand Marais -- it's often voted one of the most beautiful small towns in the US. Right on Lake Superior and gorgeous in any season.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 5:52 AM on February 4

Response by poster: I didn't know "folk school" was a thing! I often daydream about creating a retreat specially equipped so people could come and do all kinds of crafty things if I win the lottery and now here all these places are!

I would love more options in Canada if there are any. There are only two listed on If I had a penguin's link and one of them is a dead link and the other doesn't seem to do multi-day stuff.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:58 AM on February 4

Artist and maker bookhou started leading travel workshops last fall to places like Portugal, Japan and Laos. She has a 4-day fabric printing and quilting workshop coming up this summer in Wisconsin, and I'm eagerly watching her Instagram to see if she posts more trips abroad this year.
posted by dotparker at 8:53 AM on February 5

Great recommendations for a lot of the places mentioned so far. I've personally been to Peters Valley and Arrowmont, and had a great time at both.

It's expensive, but I've been curious about Boisbuchet, which looks pretty idyllic.
posted by taltalim at 7:26 AM on February 9

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