Shop and create something of your own all in one imaginative, relaxing place.
“Don’t you have that tingly, excited feeling inside?” Tara, the instructor leaned down to open a box of stuffing. “It’s almost finished, and you created it all by yourself!”
My friend’s daughter, Jessi, agreed that she was excited as she made her final stitches in a felt starfish at Broadhope Art Collective. An “artist-run creative space,” Broadhope invites visitors to “shop, learn and create.” Located on Cincinnati’s west side in Cheviot, the gallery boutique offers a variety of art and craft classes each month for adults and children. At the corner of Glenmore and Harrison Avenues, Broadhope has no parking lot of its own, but there’s usually street parking nearby and a couple of municipal lots, too.
We signed up for a “Make a Starfish!” class with our instructor, Tara, a textile artist. A couple of people had already begun their starfishes when we arrived, and a few others joined us later on, but the various start times, along with wildly different skill levels, never fazed Tara.
She began with an overview of the craft and the materials. Jessi selected the colors she wanted from the precut felt starfishes and then picked the buttons she used to decorate it. While Jessi worked, Tara offered tips to her and the others. “What I do is move over the buttons after I have them laid out. Then I start with the middle one.” Later, after Jessi chose her embroidery floss, Tara said, “I make my thread as long as my arm and then double it. That way I have plenty to work with, but I can still handle it.”
Tara’s compliments and guidance helped confidence grow for Jessi, and all the crafters, but one little girl was frustrated. She hopped off her stool, walked away, and said, “It’s too complicated.”
Tara gently guided her back. “Come on with me. We’ll work this out.” The child was back on task in just a few minutes, but eventually, the little girl’s mother took over some of the more difficult steps. Still, the daughter gave decorative input and both mother and daughter seemed happy and comfortable with the project.
Obviously, that mom stayed beside her child throughout the class, but another mother went to run errands once her daughters got started, and nearly everyone took a few moments away from the craft tables to browse the gallery. The boutique offers pottery, jewelry, paintings, stained glass, purses, sculpture and more.
With this relaxed atmosphere, the instruction mostly occurred one-on-one as needed. Tara taught the adults complex embroidery stitches, while the children worked to master the basics. Only once did Tara interrupt for whole class instruction, and that was to show how to finish the starfish. “It would probably be a good idea if everyone watched this a minute,” she said, and then demonstrated three different stitches participants could use.
By the end of class, happiness and camaraderie filled the Broadhope Art Collective. Tara assisted with introductions and conversations grew lively. The mothers and daughters worked together and the other adults chatted about how their mothers and grandmothers had taught them about sewing, crocheting and embroidery. Everyone shared warm memories — created new ones — and left with a completed craft and the instructions to make more. ϑ
Barbara Littner David is a local writer and mother of five. She is also the author of Cincinnati Trips for Kids, a collection of more than 40 great Cincinnati-area attractions.