In need of a little creative inspiration? Drop-in craft studios offer a great alternative indoor activity for wintertime when you've worn out the mat at your local indoor playspace and your home collection of broken crayons no longer thrills.
Luckily my family lives in Brooklyn, which just may be the crafting mecca of the world (or at least New York City). There are a slew of craft studios where kids can paint pottery, work with wood, try fiber arts like knitting and sewing, or make something more offbeat (robot trash can anyone?)—and best of all, someone else cleans up after them. Although some spots require that you sign up for an entire semester of classes, many offer drop-in options for occasional crafters, summer camps, school break programs and even birthday party packages. Here are our top Brooklyn craft studios where kids can get creative.
The Art Room – Bay Ridge
8710 Third Avenue
With an emphasis on introducing children to various artists, genres, and concepts, this spot is both educational and fun. The curriculum varies week to week and includes painting, drawing, sculpture, clay, mixed-media and more. Mommy and Me classes are also offered for the youngest creators.
Barking Cat Studio – Windsor Terrace
219 Greenwood Avenue
Founded by toy designer and art teacher Karen Merbaum, this lovely studio offers a variety of craft projects for all ages, from making instruments and puppets to playing with wood, clay and paper maché to creating sculptures and self-portraits. Although families are encouraged to sign up for a full semester of classes, drop-ins are allowed if space is available. Call for advance reservations: 718-686-1132.
Creatively WILD Art Studio – DUMBO
98 Water Street
This DUMBO creative hub offers painting, drawing, comic book illustration, stop motion, fashion design, and found object art classes for kids age 5-9.
Eckford Street Studio – Greenpoint
70 Eckford Street
Family Open Studio takes place most Saturday mornings from 9:30-11:30am with a different drawing, painting, sculpture or collage project prepared each session, interpreted for kids ages 1 to 5 years. Come any time during the two hours and stay for as long (or short) as you like. Teaching artists are on hand to play along and help with materials.
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Create, explore, and experience through art at the Hootenanny Art House.
Hootenanny Art House – Park Slope
428 15th Street, between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West
This art studio was created as a space where children come to create, explore, and experience themselves through art. In younger kids classes, adults are encouraged to support their children by helping them achieve their goals. Classes delve into specific crafts and skills such as textiles, drawing, and photography. Check the website calendar for classes and open studio opportunities.
The Painted Pot – Brooklyn
Multiple Brooklyn studios. Visit the website for locations.
This family-favorite local chain features locations in Carroll Gardens, Bay Ridge, and Park Slope. My daughter and I visited this new outpost, and we loved the light and airy space where visitors can drop in and paint pre-made pottery. For more serious pottery people, the studio offers a variety of classes, including handbuilding and wheel classes for kids.
Private Picassos – Park Slope
237 5th Avenue, between President and Carroll Streets
This studio aims to expose little ones to new and unique art materials, as well as ideas and methods of fellow students. Classes include a baby art playgroup and toddler art adventures, with drop-in art project opportunities. Call 718-215-0589 to reserve a spot.
Taro’s Origami – Park Slope
95 Seventh Avenue between Union and President Streets
Little crafters can learn the Japanese art of intricate paper folding through regular classes or drop-in sessions, for kids 3 and up. Events and birthday parties are also offered.
Textile Arts Center – Gowanus
505 Carroll Street between Whitewell and Denton Places
At this popular fiber arts spot kids can learn how to knit, felt, sew, weave and dye in after-school classes and summer camp. One-offs aren't offered so kids must sign up by semester. Class run in 8-week cycles, rotating through weaving, printing & dyeing, felting & soft sculpture, and sewing & fashion.
Zelda's Art World – Midwood
2291 Nostrand Avenue near Avenue I
A hardcore art supply store, gallery and education center, Zelda's offers fashion and jewelry classes for tweens and teens that go way beyond just stringing beads. There are also fine art workshops for younger children. Kids must sign up by semester, but currently enrolled students enjoy free studio time.
A version of this post was originally published in 2012; it has been updated. Katie Nave Freeman contributed additional reporting.