While over the years Tinker Art Studio has changed locations from North Boulder’s Holiday neighborhood to South Boulder’s Table Mesa Shopping Center, it has remained a constant spot for children, teens and adults looking to tap into their creativity and dabble in various mediums. With its temporarily closure in response to coronavirus, this vibrant business is still offering the public various ways to engage, inspire and create with workshop videos via YouTube.
“When the gravity of the situation made it clear that we had to close, I immediately started brainstorming ways to support our students by offering a continued sense of community through making art together,” said Christie Slater Hubley, founder of Tinker Art Studio. “A lot of our students have been with us for many years and come to the studio weekly.”
Knowing that her students would feel the lull, Hubley jumped into action and offered six classes right away on the company’s YouTube channel.
“During the filming of most of them, I have my 4 month old with me, so I’m rocking his car seat with my foot while talking to the camera demonstrating how to wrap wire or felt wool roving,” Hubley said. “He even makes an appearance in some of the videos.”
Hubley, a mother of two, knows the importance of keeping children creatively engaged during this time away from school, friends and regular routines.
“What I’m planning to do is move to one or two a week, more like a weekly art class,” Hubley said. “The workshops themselves are substantial — in the studio setting, we would complete these types of projects over at least two class periods, for example. With the first six workshops already available, and continuing to provide new workshops weekly, I believe families will have a lot of really great Tinker content to choose from throughout the shutdown.”
Although the online series is new, Hubley has already covered a lot of artistic territory. Creating eye-catching wire trees, shaping clay, assembling bohemian yarn dreamcatchers and wall hangings adorned with painted branches and feathers and painting on felted wool, she offers diverse projects that go way beyond the average finger painting or macaroni art.
“People have been sending me pictures or tagging me on social media, and it is so rewarding to see how unique each piece of artwork is in the end,” Hubley said. “You’ll hear me say, ‘You are the artist, you get to decide’ quite a lot on the videos. When planning new workshops, I think about materials and processes that really hit that mark.”
While the classes are currently free to view on YouTube, families that participate are encouraged to donate to Future Arts Foundation. Any donations made to FAF also support Tinker, as the two organizations are sharing in the contributions.
“Future Arts Foundation is one of my favorite local nonprofits and I love their model — putting on awesome festivals and concerts that people really want to attend and using the proceeds to support the local youth arts community,” Hubley said. “We’ve partnered with them in the past to offer free youth art workshops, so reaching out to Travis (Albright) to partner on offering free kids’ art workshops during the shutdown just made a lot of sense.”
“Jonathan loves to color and draw at home on a daily basis,” said Stephanie Coronel-Mockler, whose 4 year old has started to participate in the online workshops. “We initially watched the Tinker videos to get some ideas on different types of art we could do at home.”
Tinker’s online offerings have already been a welcome diversion for those who find themselves homebound.
“Jonathan was really excited to see a grown-up he knows from Tinker on the video,” Coronel-Mockler said. “Watching the video also gave us the idea to do bigger, ongoing art projects that we can do as a family.”
While viewers can explore new options as videos are uploaded, they can also revisit previous favorites.
“We were planning on participating every week,” Coronel-Mockler said. “However, Jonathan still really enjoys the first video. So, we’ll keep watching Christie read the book, ‘Stuck,’ and creating more painted branches until he’s ready for a new project.”
Kids aren’t the only ones who may be able to get in on the virtual crafting.
“I’m committed to continuing to offer free programming during the shut down and would really like to explore offerings for a variety of ages to include toddlers through teens, and even adults,” Hubley said. “I believe that the arts are more important than ever right now as people work to process, stay connected and remain calm in the midst of such turmoil.”
Tinker’s YouTube channel continues to gain subscribers daily and its initial video has already racked up more than 750 views.
“Before the shutdown, we offered adult classes in life drawing, pottery, acrylics, oils and watercolor painting,” Hubley said. “We’re hoping to start by bringing back our painting classes virtually and build from there, especially if the shutdown continues for an extended period of time.”
Initially, Hubley was providing parents with supplies they could purchase and pick up at the studio curbside. With the recent public health order not allowing this, Hubley is exploring the option of mailing the materials needed for specific projects.
“You really can do a whole lot with some basic supplies,” Hubley said. “Expect to see some collage workshops, cardboard sculptures and workshops using natural materials from your backyard or neighborhood walks coming up soon.”
Hubley remains dedicated to delivering the same enthusiastic and accessible approach to art she has had in her brick-and-mortar locations for the past eight years.
“Our mission at Tinker, of providing authentic opportunities for children, teens and adults to grow as both skilled artists and creative individuals among a supportive community, feels as important as ever — we’re just having to find new ways to connect with people.”