With its progressive ideals and start-up atmosphere, San Francisco is full of quirky creatives and artistic innovators. If you’re in town and looking to indulge your imaginative side or enjoy trying something a little different than standard tourist activities, this is a perfect city to learn what’s on the cutting edge. Here’s a guide to cool places where you can channel your inner maker, learn a new skill and meet new people while having loads of fun – glue gun skills not required.
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Teachers at the Crucible urge you to “flex your creative muscles and take a break from your regular routine.” That’s easy to do with the huge array of affordable classes on offer here, and there’s a beginners’ entry point in every subject area. Learn glass arts, welding, ceramics, textiles, leatherwork, jewelry and enameling, woodwork and stone sculpture. Want more? There’s a neon class, a fire performance class and a kinetic and electronics class for that Burning Man project you need to work on. Another fun option is a Hot Wheels and Bikes class that teaches students to build a bike from scratch, and a sheet-metal class for building motorcycle parts. This fine and industrial Arts Center in Oakland is housed in a massive 56,000-square-foot (5,200-square-metre) warehouse, including rental studios for artists. Look on the website to find details of the tour of the facility, and the class schedule.
This shop in The Castro is the bright, cozy yarn version of heaven. Skeins of sumptuous locally sourced yarns line the shelves, and all the supplies you’ll need for your next (or first) project are offered in a homey environment. Knitting and crochet classes are commonly taught in many yarn stores, but the talented ImagiKnit crew also offer instruction on spinning your own yarn, wool felt making and even knitting machine and loom weaving techniques. Your Instagram cred just went through the roof. Popular knitwear designer Alana Dakos’s patterns and books are featured in a trunk show in the store during the month of June.
This temple dedicated to the joy of bookmaking in Potrero supports the art of the book by teaching workshops that delve into the making of a physical book, such as paper making, calligraphy, design, letterpress printing and hand bookbinding, plus related arts and crafts classes. Rotating exhibits and lectures in their gallery provide inspiration. Some fun, popular classes include handwriting, paper marbling and paper making. Try your hand at calligraphy, and impress your friends with handwritten invites to your next party, or even your wedding. See the website for lectures and details of the annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival, a day-long public printmaking and book arts showcase featuring a seven-ton steamroller printer that uses Rhode Island Street as a letterpress bed.
This haven dedicated to ceramic arts in The Castro has been in operation since 1962. Ruby’s instructors are highly skilled, and classes include all levels of hand building and wheel throwing. The friendly vibe is genuine, and supportive of students of all levels. There are other program options available once students have a grasp on basic techniques and want to work on their own projects. As San Franciscans are ceramics-crazed, we’re betting you’ll love to drop by the gallery and check out the sculptural and functional work of more than 25 ceramicists, and other student work for sale.