Etsy Journal

Explore ideas and inspiration for creative living

Creative Workshops Worth Traveling For

by Julie Schneider

Sep 14, 2018

Pack your lucky scissors and hit the road: There’s an art adventure in the making.

Photo by: Sarah K. Benning

To deepen your knowledge of the world’s cultures. To toast milestones with loved ones. To tap into fresh inspiration in a place far away from your everyday. The motivations for traveling are boundless, so why not add learning a new creative skill to your list of vacation goals? More and more Etsy sellers around the globe are throwing open their studio doors to lead hands-on education sessions for aspiring makers, sharing their time-tested wisdom, go-to techniques, and expert-approved craft supplies along the way. Whether you want to pick up watercolor tips from a painter in London or explore macramé's many modern applications in Toronto, consider this the nudge you need to stretch your creative muscles, expand your know-how, and learn straight from the source. Read on to find an upcoming workshop worth traveling for, and add a (hand-carved) stamp to your craft passport.

What: Sashiko mending with Miniature Rhino

Where: Denver, CO; Ojai, CA; Portland, OR

Sashiko stitching in progress Stitching in progress at Garash Galeria in Mexico City, the first stop on Jessica's recent book tour for "Make + Mend" (Watson-Guptill, 2018)

Students at a sashiko workshop session in Mexico City Students at Jessica's 2018 Mexico City workshop session, hosted by Madejajaja
Since her new book Make + Mend landed in bookshops in August, Jessica Marquez, the veteran Etsy seller behind Miniature Rhino, has been taking her hand-stitched show on the road with workshops dedicated to the book's featured technique, sashiko mending. With a rich history in Japanese culture, sashiko is a method of repairing and reinforcing textiles using striking geometric stitch patterns that intentionally contrast with the base fabric below. Students are encouraged to bring their own garments to mend or embellish during each session. Look for her workshops across the United States this fall, including at Denver's Fancy Tiger Crafts and Lisa Congdon’s new Portland, Oregon space. Can’t make the trip? Check out Miniature Rhino’s collection of sashiko and embroidery kits on Etsy.

What: Block printing with Jen Hewett

Where: Jaipur, India; El Cerrito, CA

Block printer Jen Hewett at work Block printer and artist Jen Hewett at work; photo by Jen Siska for Hewett's new book, "Print, Pattern, Sew: Block-Printing Basics + Simple Sewing Projects" (Roost Books, 2018)

A Jen Hewett print One of Jen Hewett's original prints
It was in a tiny, 54-square-foot sunroom studio that Jen Hewett built the foundation for her big career—block printing fabrics for her successful Etsy shop and launching ambitious projects like Print, Pattern, Sew, a yearlong garment-construction challenge that combined her love for hand-printed fabrics with her love of sewing. In the process, she grew as an artist and also developed the bones for a Print, Pattern, Sew book that was published in May of this year. She teaches regular surface printing classes in California and online, and in October, she’ll be leading a rare destination block printing workshop in Jaipur, India—one of the few opportunities to catch Jen in action outside of her Cali home. Don't miss it, if you can. (Registration opens in November for 2019 classes.) See more of Jen's work on Etsy

What: Macramé and weaving with Indie Boho Studio

Where: Toronto, Canada

Student attending a macrame workshop Crafters work side by side at a recent macramé session with Indie Boho Studio in Toronto

Completed macrame works for sale Finished works for sale from Indie Boho Studio
Knots are the name of the game at Indie Boho Studio’s social crafternoons, held in a variety of locations across Toronto. Each workshop is BYOB, because, as owner Lidija Jerant's class motto goes, “Crafting is made better with a good drink in hand.” Light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are also served to fuel creativity as Lidija guides students through the steps necessary to turn cotton rope and accent beads into retro home decor. At the end of each session, students can expect to leave with a finished piece of wall art or a plant hanger—complete with a plant to put in it. Explore Indie Boho Studio's current workshop offerings

What: Abstract watercolors with CreativeIngrid

Where: London, England

A watercolor workshop hosted by Ingrid Sanchez Ingrid's students attending to watercolor works-in-progress

Watercolor artist Ingrid Sanchez Ingrid painting in her London studio
Whether you're diving into the process of painting abstract florals and glimmering galaxies or simply absorbing the basic mechanics of working with paints and brushes, Ingrid Sanchez’s London watercolor workshops promise to be as transporting as the vibrant, color-soaked canvases she creates for her Etsy shop, CreativeIngrid. Driven by a desire to live a life that inspires others, her workshops are designed to help students open up to the possibilities of paint. As she says, “Be prepared to paint without limits. It is fun, liberating, and, in my experience, the best way to find your own voice as an artist.” Browse Ingrid's original works and get inspired.

What: Botanical embroidery with Sarah K. Benning

Where: New Hampshire; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Joshua Tree, CA

A recent embroidery workshop taught by Sarah K. Benning Participants at a spring embroidery workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, led by embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning

Sarah's embroidery work Sarah K. Benning's embroidered flora
Lush with houseplants, Sarah K. Benning’s textural stitched artworks are so verdant it wouldn’t be surprising if they had the same air-purifying effects as the living specimens they emulate. They've earned the New Hampshire-based artist a devoted following that would happily pack their bags and hop a plane almost anywhere to learn at her hands—which is exactly what will be happening at a series of contemporary embroidery workshops she's leading this fall in New Hampshire, Oregon, and California. The undisputed star of this season's lineup? A special cactus-themed workshop in the arid landscape of Joshua Tree, California, known for its spiky yucca trees. Participants will learn about native cactus species and make sketches and embroideries inspired by these prickly, resilient rulers of the desert with the expert guidance of the queen of botanical embroidery herself. For ongoing inspo, check out Sarah's pattern subscriptions on Etsy.

What: Weaving with Julia Astreou

Where: Nicosia, Cyprus

Weaver Julia Astreou in her studio Weaver Julia Astreou at work in her studio in Cyprus

A closeup of the weaving process An up-close glimpse of Julia Astreou's process
Inside a nineteenth-century home that has been in her family for six generations, Julia Astreou runs a weaving studio and showroom where she makes shawls, cushions, and homewares on her four traditional Cypriot looms. Her work is rooted in local weaving and embroidery traditions, but doesn’t stop there. “By utilizing unorthodox materials such as cane, raw wool, sisal, copper wire, and plexiglass,” Julia writes, “I give my fabrics a contemporary twist with intriguing patterns, textures, and transparencies.” Discover how she does all this and more at one of her in-studio workshops in Cyprus. Shop Julia's finished woven home goods and accessories on Etsy. 

What: Wooden spoon carving with Melanie Abrantes

Where: Oakland, CA

Wooden blanks that will become spoons Wooden spoon blanks from one of Melanie Abrantes's carving kits awaiting refinement

A finished spoon A completed spoon
Wanna spoon? Designer and author of the book Carve: A Simple Guide to Whittling, Melanie Abrantes will teach you how to carve your very own wooden spoon in the afternoon workshops she hosts at her studio in California. Students can expect to learn how to use the requisite tools—including a spoon gouge, carving knife, and rasp—to design, whittle, and finish a custom wooden spoon. The completed piece makes a beautiful addition to any kitchen collection or a great gift for an avid cook. Bonus: Autodidacts can always snag a spoon-carving kit from Melanie's shop and practice at home.

What: Punch-needle embroidery with Bookhou

Where: Montreal and Toronto, Canada

A completed punch-needle embroidery project Completed punch-needle art by Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou

Punch-needle embroidery in progress Punching in progress
Bookhou’s Arounna Khounnoraj is helping to bring punch needle, a technique and tool traditionally used by rug hookers, into the limelight with her modern spin and fresh imagery. In her popular punch needle workshops, the multidisciplinary textile artist teaches students how to design and make fiber art for the wall using this satisfyingly meditative process that’s akin to embroidery, but with chunky wool yarn and a tool that fits comfortably into the palm of your hand. Students get to keep a kit that includes an Oxford punch needle, a wood frame pre-stretched with fabric, and a selection of yarns. Check out some of Arounna's screen printed goods in her Bookhou Etsy shop

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Julie Schneider

When Julie Schneider isn’t writing and editing, she’s carrying on her family’s pun tradition, making custom GIFs, or scheming in her cozy art studio. Keep up with her latest projects on Instagram.