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Our Neighbor opens art studio, gift shop
Classes teach about jewelry making, birds, watercolor and sewing
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Instructor Judy Wilson Goddard talks to Jason Hare, left, and Clayton Graff about how to make a clay bird’s nest at The Porch Tuesday. - photo by Tom Reed

The Porch

What: A gift shop and art studio run by Our Neighbor that offers classes to the public.
When: All classes are 2:30-4:30 p.m. Jewelry, Mondays; birds, Tuesdays; watercolor, Wednesdays; sewing, Thursdays.
Where: Mainstreet Market, 118 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: Varies, call for more information
More info: 678-617-5527

Patty Williams quietly rolled clay into toothpick-sized shapes Tuesday and smashed them into a small Styrofoam bowl. She was building a clay bird nest as part of a class all about birds at The Porch at Mainstreet Market.

Tuesday was the first day for the new art studio and gift shop run by Our Neighbor, a nonprofit devoted to helping local disabled residents.

"I think it's important for them to learn different techniques that can certainly be applied to other parts of life," teacher Judy Wilson Goddard said. Her weekly class will include building bird houses, wind chimes, bird baths and even a redneck bird bath made using a plunger. Other classes offered include watercolor painting, sewing and jewelry making, but will vary each month.

"We're hoping that maybe we can find some areas that they're really interested in and find they enjoy," said Marty Owens, co-founder of Our Neighbor. "And then possibly that might turn into a way they can earn money by selling their creations."

Owens said the effort has been in the dream phase for five years. In the last few months they've worked toward opening at the Mainstreet Market location right next to their Next Chapter bookstore.

They're still seeking volunteer teachers so they can expand the topics covered.

"I think the thing that's so beautiful about this is you can take physically handicapped students that don't have good use of their fingers and even they can roll these things, even they can mold their bird nest," Goddard said. "And I think this is going to build a lot of confidence in the students."

Class member Jason Hare said it's been years since he worked with clay, though he has done some painting before. Clayton Graff agreed, saying he had taken some drawing classes he enjoyed.

The classes are not about experience or skill, though; Goddard said it's about having fun and celebrating talents.

A quote posted on the wall summed up her goals: "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."

She told Hare and Graff though they may not be the best at rolling out clay, "you're going to use the talents you've got, aren't you? And if you practice, practice, practice, it makes a lot of difference."

 

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