Like the idea of crafting with your kid but cringe at the thought of paint and glitter all over your house? Lucky for us, New Jersey is home to a variety of drop-in art studios that offer your spontaneous painter, potter, glassmaker, and jeweler the chance to get their craft on. The perfect destinations for a cold winter day, these craft-tastic spaces let you skip the mess at home while catering to your budding artist's creative impulses.
A'La Art Studios – Lake Hopatcong
Kids of all ages can explore their artistic side at this one-stop-shop open Wednesday–Sunday. Clay and pottery painting are perfect for the little ones, while older siblings will enjoy glass fusing. There's a flat fee of $7.50 per child; prices range from $4–$50, but most kid-friendly projects run $15–25.
Grab an easel and let the creativity flow at A Sip of Art.
A Sip of Art – West Orange
Known for paint-and-sip parties, A Sip of Art isn't only for grown-ups—your mini Monet can also play with colors and paints at this cool art lounge. Monthly Saturday morning Family Paint sessions feature kid-friendly paintings that little fingers can keep up with. After-school classes for kids 5–12 and teens introduce art history in addition to drawing and acrylic painting skills and techniques.
Art Kids Academy – Lyndhurst
Twice-monthly Saturday Art School classes allow kids 5–14 to create drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures as they learn about master artists and fine art from the world. Each class is followed by an open critique where students are encouraged to speak positively about each other's work in front of parents and siblings.
Arts & Creations Pottery Studio – Woodland Park
Walk-in painters are welcome seven days a week at this inviting art studio. Pay the $5 flat studio sitting fee and choose from 500 pottery pieces ready to be painted. Opt for traditional glaze and fire, or acrylic paint so your tiny artist can take home their creation on the same day. Canvas, mosaic, and sand art projects are also available.
Bazaar Street Beadery – Ridgewood
As seen on Bravo's Real Housewives of New Jersey, this beautiful, well-stocked store allows you to make your own wearable art. Shop the sea of loose beads in all shapes and sizes sorted by color, and string them to create a one-of-a-kind design. Crimp the ends and add a clasp to wear your necklace, bracelet, or earrings right out of the store.
Brushes and Bisque – Denville
Weekly specials make this affordable ceramic studio even more of a bargain. Toddlers up to age 5 are half-price ($3.50) Tuesday–Friday mornings. On Wednesdays and school holidays, kids are just $5. The studio fee always includes unlimited painting time, paints, glaze, tools, and firing (pottery pieces are additional).
Color Me Mine – Summit and Ridgewood
Work off some creative energy and make a gift for Grandma at this popular pottery painting palace. Select from a wide variety of pre-made ceramic items, then add your artistic flair. Pieces will be glazed, fired, and ready to pick up in seven days. Pay per piece, plus a studio fee of $6 for kids ages 9 and under, and $9 for anyone over 10. Family Day is held one Sunday a month, where $20 covers the studio fees for a group of up to 5 (adults or children). Additional locations include Toms River, Voorhees, Denville, Edison, Freehold, and Hamilton.
Doin’ Dishes – Montclair
This paint-your-own-pottery palace offers a wide variety (as in 150!) of DIY painting options, starting at $8. An hour of paint time is an extra $7, and includes all paints, glazing, and firing of your piece. Swing by Wednesday afternoons for a Mommy & Me special—while you paint your piece, little ones 5 and under stay busy painting a small tile for free. After-school specials for older kids include a select pottery piece plus one hour of paint time for $19.
Express Yourself Studios – Maplewood
This cute and cozy space plays host to Studio Saturdays and Family Art workshops every weekend, plus weekday Crafty Kids workshops, too. There are different guided activities offered for toddlers (2–5), and kids ages 5–10 can choose to recreate a painting by a famous artist using a mix of media ($20 per child) or take a slab of clay and hand-shape their own piece of pottery (rates vary depending on activity). School break camps, birthday parties, and paint-and-sips are also offered.
Fire Me Up! – Cranford
Young Picassos will fall in love with this spacious studio that offers oodles of bisque pottery pieces to choose from. Just walk in, choose a piece, and start painting. If your older kiddo wants to make something extra special, glass fusing is available for kids 9 and up. Prices start at $8, but the average item is $20–$30 and includes all materials, studio time, and kiln.
Glassworks Studio – Morristown
Fire up your little one’s creative passion at this make-your-own glass fusing studio. Kids as young as 3 can learn how to combine an array of glass forms to make a unique and colorful piece to call their own. Walk-ins are welcome during regular studio hours Friday–Monday. Projects start at $23, and average around $40.
Just Bead Yourself – Westfield
Jewelry makers 4 and older can choose from thousands of colorful beads to create a unique necklace ($24.50), bracelet ($19.50), or pair of earrings ($12.50). Kids can also bring a favorite doll and make a matching piece, either a choker ($30 per pair) or bracelet ($27 per pair).
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Have fun with finger paint at The Messy Artist.
The Messy Artist – East Hanover
Open Play is offered Wednesday and Thursday at this hands-on arts studio. Pay $20 at the door—and stay as long as you like. Little ones 18 months to 5 years rotate through five stations, including easel work, a giant walk-in sensory box, homemade play dough, and finger-painting with goop, slime, or shaving cream. Everyone can make a one-of-a-kind project to take home.
Mud Clay Studio – Madison & Boonton
Prepare for a unique experience at this modern studio space. For $30 per project, you’ll get three pounds of clay to create a handmade sculpture any day of the week between 12–6pm. Mom, Me and Mud Mondays introduce kids ages 2–5 to rolling, stamping, building, and playing with clay. School's-out workshops and clay camps for kids and teens teach both hand-building and wheel work.
Oh! Canary – Maplewood
Stop by this beautiful art studio on for a creative drop-in playgroup twice a month. For $25 (with a 15% sibling discount), artists 18 months to age 5 can paint, sculpt with play-doh or clay, make a take-home project, and get their tiny hands dirty in the sensory sand box during each one-hour Open Play & Make session.
Painting Pottery Cafe – Englewood
Drop in any day of the week to paint pottery, create mosaics or learn how to mold and fire your own clay. Spice up your kids after-school routine with Tuesday and Friday afternoon art classes. The 3,000-square-foot studio includes three private rooms perfect for birthday parties.
Pottery Paint & Love – Teaneck
Make a gift from the heart at this quaint art studio. Pick it, paint it, fire it and voilà: you'll have a one-of-a-kind masterpiece any one will love. After your piece gets a professional glazing treatment, it goes into the kiln for a day. Once it cools, the locally owned and operated family studio hand polishes your item and bags it up for you to take home (usually within a week).
Ready to Paint – Chatham
Relax, enjoy some music, and paint it up at this bright, sunlit studio. There's no sitting fee, so you just pay per piece. The popular plaster painting technique allows kids to top off their work with a shiny, sparkly or matte finish that's ready to go home within minutes.
Sunshine Pottery & Paint – Englewood
Express yourself at this unique studio that offers mosaics, canvas painting, clay building, sand art, spin art, board art, jewelry beading, and acrylic pouring, in addition to more than 600 pieces of pottery to paint. Prices range from $6 to $60 and incudes painting, glazing and firing. There's no sitting fee, so you're welcome to stay and create as long as you like. Ever tried painting in the dark? Sunshine's black light canvas painting parties are sure to wow your birthday boy or girl.
A Time to Kiln – Red Bank
No patience to wait seven days? In addition to pottery painting, this charming studio provides projects to make and take home the same day. Choose from acrylic painting on canvas or make a mosaic. Little ones can stuff a cuddly critter, dress it up in an outfit or T-shirt, and leave with a new friend.
Drop in for a paint-your-own-pottery date with your little one at Around the Corner Art Center.
Around the Corner Art Center – Freehold
Plates, mugs, and vases, oh my! This studio offers plenty of pottery pieces to choose from. Prices range from $4–$35, plus a $6 paint and firing fee. If your little one would rather create a masterpiece to hang on the wall, pick a 16 x 20 canvas traced with the picture of your choice for $21.95, which includes supplies and unlimited studio time.
The Clay Pot – Spotswood
At this professional pottery studio, you only pay per piece (from $10); there's no additional charge for studio time or firing. All of the pottery is handmade on one of the store's nine potter's wheels. Stop by a week or two before a holiday to paint a limited-edition seasonal piece for someone special.
Gone Paintin' – Flemington
This delightful studio was co-founded by two former hospice nurses who view painting as therapy. Blank canvases range from $22–$28. Glass fusing, ceramics, and slime making are also available. Walk-ins are welcome Wednesday–Sunday.
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Older kids can learn the art of glassblowing at Hot Sand.
Hot Sand – Asbury Park
This cool glassblowing space offers activities for kids of all ages. Children 9 and up can blow their own glass piece, such as an ornament or drinking glass. Younger artists can create a quick cast imprint of a hand or shell into which hot glass is poured. Or make a sun tile arrangement of colored glass heated and fused together in a clear square.
Paint A Tee lets even the youngest artists make a design to be printed on anything from T-shirts to iPad covers.
Paint A Tee – Red Bank
Wear your artwork home after a visit to this charming art studio. Once you create your one-of-a-kind design, it will be transferred to the T-shirt, sweatshirt, apron, tote bag, notebook, or even iPad cover of your choice (prices range from $20–35). Paint A Tee is popular for parties, especially on the weekends, so be sure to call ahead for drop-in availability before you leave home.
That Pottery Place – West Windsor
Eat or drink from your very own hand-painted mugs, glasses or dinnerware painted by your favorite mini artist. All the ceramics, paint and glazes are food safe, nontoxic and lead-free. You pay for the pottery plus a one time studio fee that covers glazing and firing; the studio fee is 50% of the price of the pottery. Closed Wednesday. (On weekends, the studio may close early if there are no walk-ins, so call ahead if you're planning to come toward the end of the day.)
All Fired Up – Collingswood
With more than 400 pieces to choose from, this cozy space includes a vast selection of everything from piggy banks to animal figurines. Little painters can tap into their creative minds as they decorate their ceramic piece with paint, stencils, or stamps. After they design it, the studio will glaze and fire for free! Bring your kids in their pajamas Saturday mornings from 10am–noon and receive a 15% discount.
Paint-a-Treasure – Haddon Heights & Hamilton
Why wait when you can take your painted pottery piece home the same day? Paint-A-Treasure's no-fire, fast-drying acrylic paints go on like glaze, and kids can finish off their piece with glitter for even more bling. Walk-ins are also welcome to paint a canvas template.
Originally published January 2012.
Photos courtesy of the venues