The Mountain Times

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Learn to craft Holiday Gifts endowed with care

Despite a downturn in the economy, Americans are expected to spend $475 billion on Christmas this year. The commercialization and consumerism associated with Christmas can be distasteful, but Artistree workshops are anything but that. Located in the Mount Tom building in Woodstock, their annual Holiday Gift workshops are a great way to reconnect with your artistic side and rediscover what is important about the holidays.

"We are a non-profit committed to making creative expression and its appreciation accessible to our community," explain the Artistree organizers on their website. Serving as both a community arts center and a gallery, the center "provides the opportunity for a joyful, meaningful, and satisfying experience of the visual arts and music through our year-round classes, workshops, and events… Our affiliated branch, Purple Crayon Productions, focuses on programs for children," she explained. Purple Crayon offers art, music and movement classes for children 5 and under year-round.

Tayo Skarrow, the Center Director, adds that community art centers are "a place for people to come together and learn something new and meet new people. We offer a lot of different kinds of educational experiences."

But their most popular community programs all year are the holiday gift workshops. Attendees learn how to make special gifts like clay Christmas ornaments, felted fancy flowers, holiday wax luminaries and holiday folk art. There are also sing-alongs, gift wrapping services, and caroling outings. The workshops have been offered for the last four years.

"Every year is different," Skarrow says. "We ask for proposals from local artists and artisans to ensure different offerings." For example, this year there is a tie-dying workshop where "participants will learn advanced folds and application methods to make an endless array of designs and color combinations. Participants will have the chance to create three clothing items of their choice," she says. The tie-dye workshop is this Saturday, Dec. 8.

Another interesting class will be Origami For the Holidays, offered Dec. 18. In this workshop, "participants will be gently guided in using paper to create beautiful origami ornaments, one of which will be displayed on the ArtisTree Holiday Tree! Participants will also be able to take their favorite pieces, a packet of instructions as well as extra papers home for their personal collection and continued practice."

If you feel like you don't need to contribute to the half a trillion dollar holiday feeding frenzy, remember that a handmade gift will prove to be infinitely more valuable than something bought on Black Friday. "Everybody is busy, and everybody has a lot going on in their lives. But to take the time to make something for somebody is a concept we often lose sight of," said Skarrow. "It has extra meaning when a person takes the time and thought to create a gift. We at Artistree are able to give them the time and space to achieve that."

A list of the workshops offered this year, along with all events at Artistree can be found at artistreevt.org.