Do-it-yourself crafts have officially been taken to the next level in Kane County - and just in time for the holidays.
Local DIY studios have been popping up around the county and they make for a great night out for couples, groups or families.
Classes vary depending on the studio, but all include a finished take-home product at the end of the night. Many studios offer scheduled classes with a set painting or craft, open craft nights for clients to choose their own piece of art, as well as other events like corporate parties, team building activities, bridal and baby showers, fundraisers, birthday parties and much more.
Miriam Kuta, owner of the Chilled Palette in Geneva, first opened her workshop almost six years ago after realizing she wanted to use her love of painting to get people out of the house.
It’s not necessarily about the art or how it looks as a finished product; it’s about being creative in a welcoming environment.
“People have to let loose and relax and this is the perfect fit,” Kuta says, noting that she teaches the majority of the classes. “I’ve had people who have come in here and broken down in tears because they never thought they could do this.”
Amy Kumler, owner of the newest DIY workshop, Pinot’s Palette in St. Charles, was one of those people who never realized she could paint.
“I’ve always been in corporate America and I just kind of felt like I was always working and really stressed,” says Kumler, who opened her own shop in November. “I was very analytical with zero art skills.”
That’s when her friend “dragged” her to the Pinot’s Palette in Barrington for a class for a “project pet” event, where she painted her very first dog, Cocoa.
“I was really just hoping people would know it was a dog,” says Kumler. “It shut down my analytic side and it was so relaxing and better than a spa. I got hooked.”
Another fun DIY trend that has been emerging is stenciling classes. Katie Ilic opened Board & Brush in St. Charles in October after her original workshop in Oswego opened in 2018. She has seen a warm reception from the community with several sold-out events already.
“We offer wooden signs, build projects, coat racks, shelves, boxes, porch signs, clocks, customized doormats and personalized pillows,” Ilic says, noting that they provide all of the materials, design and instruction to help distress, sand, stain, paint and customize each piece of art.
Board & Brush requires that each customer signs up at least three days prior to the event so that the custom stencil can be made in advance.
“Everyone’s signs turn out amazing because we walk you through the process step-by-step and use personalized stencils,” Ilic says.
While it’s technically possible to watch a few youtube videos and craft up something in your basement yourself, there’s something to be said about the social environment that classes are held in.
“It’s really all about the experience,” Kumler says. “It’s so fun! You bring your friends and it’s just a class full of people singing along and joking with the artists, who are really good at getting the crowd going. We take care of everything and you really just show up and have a good time.”
All of the Kane County DIY classes serve up cash bars with beer, wine and other beverages and permit crafters to bring their own food and snacks to enhance their evenings.
“Our workshops are such a fun experience,” Ilic says. “Not only do you have a great evening out, but you also get to take home an amazing sign to hang on your walls at the end of the night!”
The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to bring home a themed craft to deck the halls with.
The Chilled Palette offers holiday-centric paintings throughout the month of December, and even has a kids’ surprise day on Monday, Dec. 23. Kids will paint a gift for someone special and wrap it before they leave the shop, making for a great gift on Christmas! In addition to a selection of holiday paintings throughout the month of December, Pinot’s Palette has a special kids day on Saturday, Dec. 21, which is designed for parents to finish holiday shopping while their kids whip up a gift for someone. Board & Brush offers holiday stencils all month, as well as a Christmas pajama party with free donuts and mimosas on Sunday, Dec. 22.
For those wanting to gift a DIY experience, gift cards are available as presents for the holidays, too. Not sure what to get grandma or that hard-to-please aunt? No need to worry about crafting abilities or having a skillset - anyone can attend these classes.
“You don’t need to have any artistic talent whatsoever- it’s fun art, not fine art,” Kumler says. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Kuta says her oldest painter so far has been 92 years old, while Ilic has seen a range from five to 95 years old.
Most just come to have a good time.
“People are very hard on themselves to be perfect in life,” Kuta says. “We want to be good and perfect and this helps to get you out of your comfort zone and realize and realize you can do things you’re not comfortable with.
“It doesn’t need to be perfect; it’s not going to hang on a museum wall.”