Hand Made in L.A.: Craft Services

Workshops that help you tap into your creative side

Photograph by Misha Gravenor


Word to the wise: Don’t doubt the power of a felt bunny. There’s a quiet joy in turning an idea into something physical, which is what Angelenos are discovering in the craft classes that have cropped up around town.

In August Jenny Ryan, a lifelong crafter, opened Home Ec?. in the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake. Along with the requisite supplies—patterns, felting needles, fabrics—she offers classes that range from felting (bring on the bunnies) to skirt making to bookbinding. She also knows a thing or two about stenciling (see below) and teaches sewing. “That’s something a lot of people were asking for because they’re sick of going to the tailor and paying $50 to have a skirt mended,” says Ryan.

Santa Monica’s Urban Craft Center opened last November in a sprawling space with polished concrete floors. The stock of supplies is broad, and private instruction is available to complement the roster of classes, which range from jewelry to hand-sewn animals to printmaking. You may still be able to squeeze into the center’s popular soap-making class on December 14.

Along Alvarado Street in Echo Park, Machine Project bridges the gap between crafters , makers (see page 137), and artists. Based in an old brick storefront, the nonprofit community center was established by Mark Allen, an assistant art professor at Pomona College, who keeps the focus decidedly diffuse. There have been recent workshops on how to make kimchi and sauerkraut, sewing, “Paleolithic skills” (the class on stone knives sold out first), and iPhone programming. “I was interested in opening a space that looked at how learning about ideas and education could be integrated into one’s social life after being in school,” says Allen, who also hosts lectures, readings, and art shows.

» Home Ec.: 3815 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-906-8826. Urban Craft Center: 2433 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-392-0139. Machine Project: 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park, 213-483-8761.