If you walk into Tinker Art Studio’s new location in South Boulder, you might see “Tinker tots,” little ones no more than 3 feet tall, hanging up their jackets and filing into their early morning classes. Though they love their new neighborhood, it was bittersweet for the sta
ff at Tinker to leave their North Boulder home. They traded a 1,500-square-foot studio that was charming, but posed a bit of a challenge without interior walls dividing the large space. The new studio is double the size of the old studio, with five separate stations that include a ceramics area and kiln room, a painting and drawing studio, a mixed-use studio, a make-and-take space, and a patio space that allows teachers and students to work outside. For those familiar, Tinker is still offering quality art classes while gearing up for its summer camps.
Come summer, Tinker will offer opportunities for kids to explore pottery, realistic drawing, collage work, printmaking, screen-printing, painting, wearable art and sewing in order to touch base with all facets of art. Tinker’s motto, “You are the artist, you get to decide,” epitomizes this.
Founded by Christie Slater Hubley in 2012, “Tinker was born out of a desire to create a unique studio in which children have the opportunity to solve problems, make decisions, and push boundaries within a safe and supportive environment,” she says. “Our arts-integrated and whole-child approach to art and teaching sets our programming apart.”
The studio believes in community and creating group projects, not only teaching children about art, but socialization and creating strong bonds that last outside the classroom. This year Tinker will work with the Denver YMCA on a group painting at the studio that will allow 70 students to each contribute.
With more space, Tinker can now expand its offerings by maximizing use of its bigger studio. Consider, for example, the Make and Take studio, which allows children of all ages to drop into the studio at any time with an adult and choose an offered art project. It’s an opportunity for people to come in for an hour, pick their own project, and let the studio take care of the material supplies. Some other new programs include additional wheel-throwing and hand-building ceramics classes, figure drawing and Friday Art Nights, which happen every week. Tinker Time, an art and play time for little ones just 18 months old (parents welcome), makes sure everyone in the family has a chance to explore their creativity.
“With our classes and programming continuing to fill, we are thrilled to be able to serve a larger number of students and expand our class offerings,” Hubley says.
Heather Pfeifer is the lead children’s instructor at Tinker, and in the four years she’s been teaching at the studio, she’s noticed the kids always come in excited and ready for their classes.
“They always love art especially on the [pottery] wheel; they just think it’s magical,” Pfeifer says. The students get really hooked on the wheel at Tinker, but they must be at least 8 years old to use it. Besides the wheel, Tinker’s newest endeavor is offering a variety of sewing-specific courses like Sew Fun for ages 8-12, and Sewer’s Camp for ages 13-16.
“We just purchased about 10 sewing machines. We’ve been teaching kids how to do basic sewing stitches on pillows and tote bags,” Pfeifer says.
Pfeifer says her own love of art began as a kid.
“I was very shy, I wasn’t into sports very much and so the only thing that really inspired me and opened me up was art. Just having an outlet through art helped me open up to be able to talk and communicate with people more,” Pfeifer says. “When I have students in class that are a bit shy I just feel like I can connect with them by asking them to open up through painting, drawing or pottery.”
Art may have taught Pfeifer to open up and express herself and that is why she is so dedicated to teaching — it’s giving back, in a way.
The studio perhaps reaches its busiest time during the spring and summer camps.
“The summer camps are intense, energetic and go by fast,” Pfeifer says. Summer sessions run for eight weeks withw continued classes that meet every week. The summer camps are one week long, and run for three months starting at the end of May.
The studio offers medium-based camps that include realistic drawing, acrylic painting, printmaking, wheel-throwing and other rotating options. Some other interesting camps this summer include glass art, comics, origami, game-making, toy-making, optical illusion art, yoga and art, artsy science and balancing art. The larger studio space allows Tinker to run four different camps each week.
“In our summer camps, you’ll find a balance of structured art projects and open art invitations. Our mission is for every student to have opportunities to grow as both a skilled artist and creative individual,” Hubley says. “As such, we teach artistic skills and techniques using authentic and high quality materials, while always supporting students to leave our studio with an enriched understanding of themselves and the world around them.”