Toronto Finest Art Workshop Studios

Tank Jewelry and Beads Moon Necklace by Amy Johnson
Tank Jewelry and Beads, Moon Necklace by Amy Johnson

It's time to free your artistic inner-self, and I can assure you that Toronto's finest artisans will be able to help you achieve your creative dreams. I personally believe that no one really hates art. Every one of us dreams about being able to express ourselves through jewellery or fine clothes. Now it's perhaps time we stopped keeping these dreams to ourselves and took the first step towards our new hobbies — maybe even our future occupations. I know that even though I'm never going to be famous with my super-simple handcrafted items, I made them — and that's something I will cherish for a long time. We should be really grateful to the artists who are willing to open their studios and teach us a little of their skills. I also see these classes as a way artists and artisans can raise some money, promote their work, and still keep doing what they love.

The Devil's Workshop (Map)

Handmade Jewellery

The Devils Workshop
The Devil's Workshop

The fact that this workshop is one of the smaller artisanal classes in the city is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. I liked the layout of the shop very much, as the front half contains the retail portion of the shop, where glass cupboards and shelves hold beautiful, handmade jewellery pieces. The workshop follows the open-space concept, so when you walk in for the first time, you can see people working on the jewellery in the back of the shop.

The jewellery made here is some of the most beautiful I've come across in the city — very delicate, with a slightly modern flare. I would bring the Devil's Workshop to your attention especially if you want to order custom-made rings, necklaces, or really any other unique pieces. The people working in the workshop are very talented at reflecting your preferences in beautiful pieces for surprisingly reasonable prices. I need to emphasize this: they are not cheapskates who take your money in exchange for an average piece — they really put themselves into their work. We asked Sarah what was her favourite way of making jewellery.

I like it all and use all the techniques I know to get the project done. But if I must choose a favourite… it would have to be soldering. I'm kind of a fire addict.

I'm going to write a bit more about the Devil's Workshop, because frankly, these guys are the artistic surprise of the year for me. I just have to mention their wedding band workshop, where you can pick a material and make your own wedding band — yes, with your own hands — for $300 per couple plus materials. Inexpensive, original, and beautifully personal. Sarah told us that this is her favourite workshop to teach.

I love teaching The Wedding Band Workshop every Saturday. I just love the energy and that my students experience the whole process from beginning to end in the full-day workshop.
Lost Wax Casting
Lost Wax Casting

The Devil's Workshop also offers other courses, comprising Silversmith for Beginners, Silversmith Level 2, Self-Directed Silversmith, Enamelling for Beginners, Lost Wax Casting, Metal Printmaking, Wire-Working Basics, Bead-Working Basics, and Glass Fusing. As far as I can tell, they always fill up their schedules to the minute with as many classes as possible. Booking is really easy, and you can reserve space in a class online or call the studio. The professionals who lead the workshops are very nice, with a bit of strictness that in my case resulted in a very nice necklace, which I was able to make all by myself — having lots of fun along the way. If you want to try the jewellery craft, the Devil's Workshop would be my first choice for beginners' workshops. We asked The Devil's Workshop how soon in advance potential students have to book a class. Sarah told us:

Most of our classes book up about two months in advance, but we always have new sessions starting regularly, so if they miss one, there is sure to be another posted soon.

Phone: (416) 855-4321

Sew Be It (Map)

Sewing for Everyone

Want to learn how to sew? Seriously. My friend forced me to go with her to a class because she was too shy to go alone, and three months later, I repaired my brother's damaged pants — earning not so much as a disparaging remark for my work.

Sew Be It
Sew Be It

Dilys Tong from Sew Be It revealed which of their courses is her favourite to teach

They offer courses for ages 8 to 11 (tweens), 12 to 16 (teens), and 17 plus (adults). I found the division of ages a little bit strange yet refreshing. Let's focus on the adult courses, but you can also research the other two if you have a talented young Versace at home. If any of your children are really enthusiastic about fashion design and you think that connecting them with other likeminded children will do them some good, I would definitely consider one of the camps Sew Be It offers. Their five-day summer camp costs about $395 plus HST.

Sew Be It offers a comprehensive selection of courses, including Sewing Classes, Specialty Sewing, Wardrobe Revamp, Pattern Drafting, Fashion School Application, and Fashion Entrepreneurship on various levels, with all the courses led by specialists with quite a lot of experience. I'm definitely planning to come back and take the wardrobe revamp course — mainly because it really sounds like a lot of fun. The exciting description reads, "Nip and tuck the saggy items, or lengthen and let out anything that has mysteriously become teeny weeny. Add pockets, change buttons, embellish or simplify to restore once-loved garments to their original glory. Perform major reconstructive surgery to make an older shirt your new favourite skirt or turn a less-than-perfect vintage find into a wardrobe staple." And what's more, this course doesn't require any previous sewing skills!

We also asked Dilys how soon in advance potential students have to book a class.

We usually tell the students to register as soon as they can since the class size is very small (six students). Once it's full, then they will have to be on the waiting list or take another session.

Phone: (416) 488-1607

Tank Jewelry & Beads (Map)

Handmade Glass Jewellery

Chicklette Bracelet by Jill Cribbin
Chicklette Bracelet by Jill Cribbin

Toronto's unique Distillery District, the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, hosts Canada's finest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture. The forty-four historic buildings set among thirteen brick-lined acres create one of the most artistic parts of contemporary Toronto, and Tank is in the heart of it all. When you find yourself in the neighbourhood of the Proof Gallery, Millicent Vee, Melanie Gordon, Hoibo, Distill, Shao Design, Balzac's, and many other fine shops, you know that you've arrived to the right spot to pick up some skill and inspiration.

Tank offers three platforms through which you can learn how to work with hot glass and make beads with your own design imprinted on them. The first module they offer is called Making Glass Beads — 3 Part (two classes each day) Beginner/Advanced Series with Amy Johnson. The next module is Beadmaking 101, where you learn to make glass beads — 6-hour intensive. The last option comprises private classes, offered for both groups and individuals.

Amy Johnson, graduate of Crafts & Design/Glassblowing at the Sheridan Institute, is currently one of the duo that runs Tank (along with her colleague, Jill Cribbin). She says:

I have the best job in the world, I get to play with fire and colour all day.

As for the collections, I was quite impressed by their earrings. In fact, now I'm a proud owner of gold glitter ball earrings with a black core from Tank Studio. They are not my finest pieces, but I really enjoy wearing them.

Phone: (647) 430-8589

Organic Metal Gallery (Map)

Handmade Jewellery

Organic Metal Gallery
Organic Metal Gallery

Since I started with a jewellery-oriented studio, I would like to conclude with one as well. Organic Metal Gallery is home to a great team of goldsmiths, jewellers, and iron workers who incorporate fluid, natural shapes and geometric forms with semi-precious and precious stones, found objects, a combination of metals, and techniques to create the kind of pieces we call "my favourite."

There are eight benches in OMG (one of the funniest abbreviations I've came across!), where independent young artists work together. The person behind OMG, Robin Gray, is a teacher and silversmith from Toronto and founder of the Organic Metal Gallery. Introduced to gold smithing in an open studio while teaching in Japan in 1995, she found the perfect setting in which to incorporate all her passions. She returned to Canada in 1998 to pursue metal arts fully at George Brown College.

Grey explained the mission of her project:

Every passerby with an idea or sketch is encouraged to transform it into a reality with the artist of their choice and building the perfect gift for themselves, a daughter, brother, parent, sweetheart, or friend. Each piece of work purchased has a guarantee of satisfaction — we will work with the client until they are delighted with their own design or one of ours.

The attention to detail at this studio is staggering. The artists do a very precise job here, so if you have a project that requires an extreme amount of attention, this is the place to go. Their website is quite clear and organized, but watch out when you go to the shop — I guarantee it will take at least half an hour for you to find what you're looking for — assuming you knew what you were looking for to begin with!

OMG also offers classes, but so far it doesn't seem that there's much going on in this direction from OMG for this year.

Phone: (416) 533-8127

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