In the heart of Oaklands, a former hair salon has transformed into a community art space that is taking this emerging neighbourhood’s cool quotient to another level. Opening this weekend, Poppet Creative offers adults and children alike the chance to channel their inner Picasso with dozens of monthly classes including jewellery making, pottery, watercolour painting, photography – even piñata making! Artist and owner Andrea Soos – who ran the studio out of her home for the last four years before taking it streetfront – has curated a killer line-up of classes that accommodate both the amateur and experienced. For those who made a new year’s resolution to exercise their right brain, choose from pre-registered workshops, drop-in classes or open studio (BYOS – bring your own supplies – or pay a few extra bucks to use what’s on site during unstructured creating time).
An added bonus is that the studio will include a small retail space featuring art and crafts designed by the talented makers teaching at Poppet Creative, including artists from Victoria, Vancouver and Salt Spring Island.
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I asked owner and founder Andrea Soos to share some thoughts about the studio in advance of its grand opening.
- What happens when someone walks through the front doors of Poppet Creative’s new studio – what do they see?
A clean white space suitable for many uses – workshops, classes, artists talks, gallery showings, private events and much more. Then you’ll notice the custom retail shelves showcasing the work of local artists and craftspeople, as well as creative DIY kits for kids. There is a cozy nook for reading or hanging out, a group of large tables for classes and tons of amazing art supplies hidden behind sleek white cabinetry.
- Describe the types of workshops and classes you’re offering and who they are geared towards.
We offer all types – fine art classes such as watercolour, drawing and illustration and mixed media, project-based classes and workshops such as jewellery making, weaving, ceramics and a monthly craft night. We also have many after-school classes for kids, clay for kids on Saturday morning and drop-in toddler programs [author’s note – this woman is talented AND brave!]. All ages will find something interesting in our class schedule.
- This studio space is new, but Poppet Creative has been hosting workshops for awhile. How long have you been doing it and what’s some of the most interesting feedback you’ve heard from participants?
I’ve been teaching for 20 years in Victoria. The most exciting feedback I hear about Poppet specifically is that it offers a safe haven for adults returning to art after some time away. The mixed media classes in particular are designed to be accessible and introduce students to a variety of techniques and materials that help them ease into art. I have loved adding other teachers to Poppet’s schedule as they are often friends and fellow crafters who love what they do just as much as I do and are excited to share their skills with a wider audience. For the last four years, Poppet has been in my home studio and it was interesting to hear some students were sad to leave the cozy attic space, so my intention is to bring that feeling of warmth and comfort to the new studio.
- What is your role in all of this – how did you decide to devote your time to making art more accessible for kids and adults? Is this a side-project or your full-time gig?
This is my full-time job. Until last spring I still taught at other places and you may find me around town a bit here and there, but Poppet is now my main focus. It is a great combination of everything I love to do – teach, facilitate and host, and sell crafts! The last two years I have hosted creative retreats for adults and teen girls, which will continue in 2016 and beyond. Those retreats are a special passion of mine.
- What do you say to people who might be interested in art but don’t think they’re talented or creative enough to be artists?
This is a huge challenge, especially for adults who may be holding on to previous negative experiences regarding art. I try to convey that art doesn’t have to be precious, that it can be fun and messy and playful, that the process is the point, not the finished product, and that you can always paint over it again.
- Anything else you want to share about the space?
I hope Poppet fills a void in the Oaklands community. A place to find the perfect gift, an art class for a child while a parent takes a yoga class across the street, an introduction to the talented teachers and artists that work in our neighbourhoods, and an all round cool place to be.