If you’re tired of routine social activities and want a new way to spend time with friends or reconnect with yourself, the intimate creative workshops shared through LeafDistrict may offer you the perfect solution.
LeafDistrict is a virtual platform that artisans or “makers” use to connect with the community. Created as the brainchild and labor of love by Kelli Niewohner and Nicole Lutz, the website hosts workshops that bring crafts as common as knitting and as wild as glassblowing to those in Austin ready to indulge their creative side or try something new.
These workshops are a fulfilling way to spend your time because there is always something tangible you take away from them. This may be a chocolate bar you made yourself or insight into a skill you never imagined you would learn, like beekeeping. At the screen printing workshop I attended, we learned the basics of the skill and printed designs onto tea towels to bring home.
Learn a Craft Through Creative Workshops
While many of the workshops are held at CRAFT on South 1st Street, some are only feasible in the den of the maker. Screen printing is one of LeafDistrict’s workshops that invite you into the artisan’s work space. Emily Pew is a member of APSCO, the Artists Screen Printing Cooperative, and her class was held in their studio space on East 6th Street. The intimacy of LeafDistrict workshops allows you to connect with a talented individual eager to share his or her knowledge. Emily is one artisan who had never held a class before, although you would never know it. According to her, screen printing is an art that literally everyone can learn to do. Because of this, she’s enthusiastic about continuing to improve the workshop experience and help others learn her craft.
Another class that comes highly recommended is the artisan chocolate workshop. A chocolate artisan brings four different chocolates from around the world for you to taste and then teaches you how to make your own. Ingredients are provided, and you walk away with your own homemade gourmet chocolate bar and the skills you need to make them on your own.
Glassblowing is an intense workshop that also invites you into the artisan’s world. Under the careful supervision of professionals, you can work with molten glass to create unique pieces.
Because the skills and crafts that LeafDistrict workshops introduce you to are vastly different, the prices also vary on a large scale. Many workshops are $30-35, but they may start as low as $20 and range as high as $175. This broad array of choices ensures that an interesting workshop is available to meet any person’s budget and interests.
Vision Behind LeafDistrict
LeafDistrict was inspired in part by Kelli’s own struggle to connect with fellow creative people upon moving to Austin. She knew they were out there, she said, but local Meetup groups and workshops were “uncurated,” and difficult to find. So, she asked herself, “How cool would it be to make a discovery platform?” If someone was interested in something, there would be a site through which he or she could easily browse to find creative workshops.
And thus LeafDistrict was born. At first, digging needed to be done to find artisans to invite onto the project. Nicole was primarily in charge of this task, and she started by perusing Etsy and contacting groups like Austin Craft Riot. Many local artisans were already selling products of their creative work online and were open to the idea of teaching workshops.
As soon as LeafDistrict’s entrepreneurs began to reach out, they were met with a positive response and an influx of interest from other local makers. Some of the artisans, like Emily Pew, had never done workshops before and worked in collaboration with the two businesswomen to provide a fulfilling experience for those who would attend.
As for the future of LeafDistrict, Kelli and Nicole are not afraid to project an ambitious vision. “Along with the online marketplace, we want to establish really great brick and mortar places in every major city,” Kelli told me. “We knew Austin was the best place to start. It’s just full of artisans and makers.”
Book a Workshop on LeafDistrict
LeafDistrict presents an exciting new way to learn and connect with others. Through intimate workshops, you’re given close access to a skilled artisan who has dedicated part of his or her life to a particular craft.
Classes are affordable and offer you a unique opportunity to enrich your own life with new skills. The process of creation is a basic human endeavor that, while often underrated, never fails to gratify the spirit. In the hustle of the work week, it’s easy to forget how fulfilling creative indulgence can be. Through LeafDistrict, however, it becomes easy to find workshops that spark your interest.
This service was imagined and enacted in Austin specifically to unite local artists and the community at large. As the site continues to grow, make sure to keep checking back for new makers and workshops.
Sign up for your first workshop now at LeafDistrict.com.
Are you excited by the opportunity to learn from talented Austin makers?