Speaking as someone who genuinely, without irony, loves the holiday season– the lights! the music! the food!– there is a limit that you reach. So step away from the madness for a moment and create something! You’ll have fun, and you’ll leave with a gift that you know your best friend/significant other/mom doesn’t already have.
1. Batik T-Shirts from Hiho Batik
The ancient art of batik uses wax and dyes to create images on cloth. At Hiho Batik, a recent Park Slope addition, those images can be uniquely designed by you. Stop by their studio room and take part of the process: create a drawing (or choose from one of their templates), trace the drawing onto your t-shirt in wax, then color the drawing in with an assortment of bright dyes. Final dyeing is done by the staff, and the shirt is ready within a week. $40/T-shirt.
Hiho Batik is located at 184 5th Avenue, between Lincoln & Berkeley Places, (718) 622-4446
2. Pottery from The Painted Pot
Select your piece of pottery, choose your paints, and then just get in the zone. Since it’s a flat-rate studio, you can let your inspiration flow for as long as you’d like. After you’re done painting, the pot (or plate or frame or figurine) is dipped in a clear glaze to give it its glossy finish, and then it’s fired in the kiln. The finished product is ready for pick-up in five to seven days. $8 studio fee per painter, individual prices range from $6-60 depending on the actual piece.
The Painted Pot is located at 72 7th Avenue, between Lincoln & Berkeley Places, (718) 768-8379
3. Needlework (and More) at Brooklyn Craft Farm
Brooklyn Craft Farm offers a few different classes that rely on needlework (embroidery, applique-d totes and onesies, and a class specifically for DIY cell phone cozies), as well as one on decoupage. The embroidery class ($40) teaches basic stitching techniques, and leaves you with a customized linen towel. The applique classes ($40 for the onesie, $35 for the tote bag) teach the art of no-sew cloth-on-cloth method, with the finishing touch of a hand-stitch for the onesie. More hand-sewing is waiting at the felt cell phone cover class ($25), and the decoupage class ($40) leaves you with a custom-designed picture frame. All fees include materials, but feel free to bring some of your own papers (and/or googly eyes) to the decoupage class. All classes are scheduled based on interest and require a minimum of three students, so rally some friends together and make some gifts. More information available here.
Brooklyn Craft Farm is located at 315 4th Avenue, between 2nd & 3rd Streets, (646) 450-3276
4. Rare and Out-of-Print Books with the Espresso Book Machine
You won’t really get your hands dirty, but you’ll still have fun: print your own books with the Espresso Book Machine, currently housed at the Central Brach of the Brooklyn Public Library. The EBM takes books from a database of over 7 million titles, including those that major publishers have made available in digital form, and– more interestingly– those out-of-print titles that have fallen into public domain, now made available by Google Books scans and Project Gutenberg. Not sure where to start? Give the bookworm in your life the same Christmas gift that Lewis Carroll gave to the original Alice by printing out Alice’s Adventures Underground, the original, handwritten manuscript upon which the classic was based. Is it weird that my heart is racing just thinking about it? Books are printed and bound for rates ranging from $10-30.
EBM is located in Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, (718) 230-2100
5. Hand-sewn Apparel & Accessories with Patti Gilstrap
We featured Patti Gilstrap’s sewing classes last week, and her patterns for scarves, gloves, booties, and bags are perfect for the DIY gift. For the more advanced students, Patti has skirt, dress, and shirt templates as well– plus bins of fabric and industrial sewing machines. Private lessons are $45 hour, and projects usually take 2-3 hours.
Patti’s studio is located at 303 3rd Avenue. Class information and reservations available here.