Novato Patch by Beth Huizenga | December 22, 2010
- How's the Housing Market? Flourishing if You're Talking Clay Gingerbread Houses. Kids and families flock to Studio 4 Art to create long-lasting crafts for the holidays.
- When Kebby McInroy of Mill Valley picked Novato as the home for a new art studio more than two years ago, she had an idea of what she was in for. "I was working in Novato teaching privately and doing summer camps, and it was great timing," she says. "I knew I wanted to open a studio and saw the perfect place available (on Grant Street). I love the families of Novato, it's a wonderful community." The mother of three with a Sonoma State degree in painting looks like a funky urban art student. She opened Studio 4 Art in September 2008. With mellow, alt-rock on the stereo at just the right level to make it fun but not overpowering, McInroy gently encourages the three youngsters seated at her four potters wheels as they shape their spinning bowls. The children happily focus on the slippery, slick slopes beneath their fingers. Classes are available for children as young as 18 months. "We start them at the age of 2 (on the wheel) because we're about the process, not necessarily the product," McInroy says. "They get to strengthen their hands and improve their fine motor skills, so when they go to hold a pencil or a paint brush they're much better at it and they feel better about it. And if they produce a bowl, that's great, too."
Who doesn't love working with clay? Or watching Patrick Swayze interrupt Demi Moore doing it? But I digress. This is not a scene out of "Ghost," but instead a place of discovery and creativity in Old Town Novato. Studio 4 Art is comprised of several work stations and on this day they are occupied by children glazing clay plates that they made themselves, throwing clay on the potter wheels and making gingerbread houses with slabs of clay using a tile for a guide. The nine children have the attention of three teachers. "Our ratio is (at least) four children to one teacher during camps," McInroy says. "Everything we do here we try to make it educational," she continues, "so math, the sciences ... we're constantly relating what we're doing in art to other fields. We tell kids what's in the clay, what's in the glazes, how the kiln works, what temperature it has to be and why. Kids also learn how to not just mold clay, but how to build with it, too." Indeed, clay gingerbread house construction has been going on here this holiday season despite the sluggish real estate market. In fact, the gingerbread workshops at Studio 4 Art increased to two weekends due to high demand. "They were fantastic, full to capacity," McInroy says. "What's really beautiful about the gingerbread project is that it's a group effort in a very creative environment. So you get children working with their parent or grandparent and they're making these tactile memories together." This was the third year the studio offered the clay gingerbread workshops, and there are some families who have gone in each year and are well on their way toÂ creating little villages. Studio 4 Art has a dynamite new website detailing the creative opportunities there. If you're interested in camp for next week, the studio is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. for art camp, and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for drop-in art work, including a chance to make a gingerbread house if you just can't wait until next year. The gingerbread houses take about 2 1/2 hours of drop-in time. "I love my work," says McInroy, who clearly puts in a ton of hours, "and I think the community senses that love. I believe every child has an amazing story and amazing creativity." And off she goes.
- [SOURCE] Novato Patch, Article by Beth Huizenga | December 22, 2010