Making Memories… One Project at a Time
Photo-sharing website Pinterest is undoubtedly a great source of ideas and inspiration. Users can create themed boards for things like recipes and clothes and then search for and “pin” images to those boards. One of the most popular board themes is DIY crafts and projects as more and more people are electing to make their own decor and gifts rather than simply buying mass-produced items from stores.
When it comes to these DIY images and tutorials, however, Pinterest can sometimes fall short. Unclear directions can lead to what are known as “Pinterest fails”: unsuccessful but admittedly humorous attempts to recreate pinned crafts. New Lynchburg crafting haven Rivermont Makery has the solution to this problem.
Like Pinterest, Rivermont Makery offers DIY inspiration, but it also offers things that Pinterest can’t. For starters, it boasts expert instructors who will help you avoid DIY disasters; they specialize in activities like painting, drawing, ceramics, photography and sewing. The business also offers access to arts and crafts supplies in both class and open studio settings.
Owner Laura Watts has over 17 years of experience in the art industry. She opened Rivermont Makery in August 2016 after discovering she had a knack for teaching what she herself has learned. “To be completely honest, the idea for the makery just kind of happened!” Watts exclaims. “For as long as I can remember, I have always loved arts and crafts, and as I got older I found myself exploring both of those options further in college. With my degree in Fine Art, I went on to work in interior design and decorating, furniture refinishing, faux painting and murals, and then went into graphic design and finally slowed down and found myself teaching all that I had acquired.”
Watts found the perfect home for her business on Rivermont Avenue, an area that inspires her both artistically and personally.
“Lynchburg, especially this Boonsboro/Rivermont area, is just perfect for this business,” she says. “My aunt and uncle lived just across the street on Elmwood, and I spent a lot of time there. I can remember saying even when I was very little, ‘I’m going to live here one day.’ There is something about the timeless feel of this street and the beautiful homes that line it that I just love. It’s home.”
This notion of home carries over into Watts’ business philosophy; she and her team strive to offer a fun, relaxing and collaborative space where all feel welcome. “Our vision for this program is for everyone, young and old, to be able to come, use the space, use special supplies and just unwind,” Watts says. “I would love to have home school groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, book clubs, small groups, etc. involved in creating! [Rivermont Makery is] a place to come, craft and create, and get out a little more!”
There are several different options for those interested in participating in projects at the makery. Monthly and yearly membership options are available for adults and children, and there is a Mini-Makers Club for children ages four to 12, which includes admission to “Kids Crafternoons” programs. These membership options include access to open studio time and arts and crafts materials as well as discounts on classes.
Non-members may also use the open studio for an hourly fee. A schedule of upcoming classes is available on Rivermont Makery’s website (rivermontmakery.com), and those who wish to attend a specific class can purchase admission online. Private parties are also available.
When it comes to selecting what classes to offer, Watts and her team of instructors seek exciting ideas from Pinterest and put their own spins on them to create unique crafting experiences. “I am always perusing Pinterest,” Watts says. “If something catches my eye or one of our instructors sees something unique, we do it! It’s really that simple. We don’t follow trends and really seek to provide new and unique activities for everyone!”
Among the classes Rivermont Makery has offered are hand lettering, watercolor monograms, passion tea sugar scrubs, open air terrariums, canvas embossing, and string cactus art. In November, the makery transformed into Hogwarts by offering several crafts from the world of Harry Potter; attendees made their own mandrakes, wands, golden Snitch bath bombs, and more. Watts says the bath bomb projects were her favorite: “They make the whole place smell great, and it’s so fun seeing everyone so excited when they come out of the molds.” In December, attendees traveled to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars–inspired crafts and activities.
Watts hopes to offer more events inspired by pop culture in 2017. “We are planning to have a lot more themed events,” she says. “We are also exploring wood burning, more advanced level creative lettering and calligraphy workshops, silk painting, and experimenting with some cookie decorating!”
Watts encourages those who are interested in becoming an instructor at the makery to fill out a form on their website: “We are always looking for makers! We want to showcase the best Lynchburg has to offer.”
One of the current instructors, Azalea Faye Smith, teaches children’s craft classes such as collage, nature art, fairy houses and flower crowns. “I’ve been with the makery from the beginning, before they opened the doors,” Smith says. “I love being an instructor at the makery because the owner is so genuinely nice and supportive of all of my ideas. Laura and her husband are two of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met. I also have to mention how pretty the space is, and it has the most awesome natural lighting.”
Regardless of a given day’s goings-on, Watts is inspired by the constant love for crafting and sense of community at the heart of the makery and its customers. “Handmade products are more than just a product; there is love, creativity and uniqueness in each item,” she says. “Handmade goods always feel more personal to me. I also love that here at the makery, it often feels like a craftsman community. We learn from one another, and there is a sense of fellowship that you can’t get in a shopping mall.”
Whether you visit the open studio for an hour, become a member, or take a class or 20, Watts and her Rivermont Makery team hope your experience is one you will cherish. “Our goal is to make certain your time in the makery is a memory, and one you will want to revisit again and again.”
Yarn & String Winter Wreath
By Laura Watts
This project is best done while watching TV, chatting with friends and just spending time relaxing. It’s not only simple but also very helpful for those “after holiday blues”!
You Will Need:
1 large MDF craft ring
Variety of Styrofoam balls in different sizes
(Cheaper option: use newspaper and masking tape)
3 to 5 different colors of yarn, string or fabric strips
Other objects (Can be natural or artificial such as pine cones or ornaments)
Standard glue gun
Approx. 15-20 standard glue sticks
To begin, wrap your Styrofoam balls with yarn, alternating different yarn colors for different size balls. I started with just a dab of glue on the ball and then continued to wrap until I didn’t see any of the original Styrofoam peeking through. Then, simply cut the piece of yarn and finish with a dab of glue.
After all the Styrofoam balls are covered, place them around the craft ring, making sure to disperse the colors and sizes of yarn balls equally. After I arranged them, I secured the largest balls first, followed by the medium, then small. After all of those were glued down, I used the pine cones to fill any holes that may have been allowing the craft ring to show through.
Lastly, I attached the snowflake ornament to the back of the wreath so that it hangs down the center—and voila! I hope the warmth and whimsy of this wreath is just perfect for your home this winter.
By Emily Hedrick