Paint your own masterpiece, pour your own candle and sculpt your own pottery with these Hoosier DIY experiences
Indiana boasts enough mansions, museums and casinos to fill weeks of itineraries, but some groups prefer a less passive trip. If your members are unafraid to get their hands dirty, paint their own canvas or make their own pottery, the state is filled with studios and workshops that encourage groups to create works of art and get firsthand assistance from talented artists.
Dearborn County in southeast Indiana welcomes groups to partake in DIY opportunities in several galleries, including the Framery in the Ohio River city of Lawrenceburg. While this 35-year old store carries over 1,500 designs, it’s notable to visitors for its numerous Arty Parties. The session begins with a small reception of appetizers before instructors assist group members as they cut fused glass jewelry, paint wine glasses or create an Eric Carle-inspired butterfly canvas. Pieces that require kiln-firing are shipped to participants as a memento. Seasonal crafts like pumpkin painting in autumn are also offered. Groups can also unearth a green thumb with a visit to McCabe’s Greenhouse & Floral. Harvest and create a sunflower arrangement, plant an herb garden to take home or create a Christmas wreath with help from McCabe’s staff.
Nearby Aurora is home to the Southeastern Indiana Art Guild (SIAG) Gallery & Studios, where groups can create customized pieces with instructions from community artists. Popular sessions offered include gourd birdhouses, mixed media notecards and finger paint “gardens” that encourage group members to return to childhood and slather their canvas in color. Your group members will feel even better when they realize proceeds from these classes go to Dearborn County’s Tour for the Cure Program, which raises money for breast cancer research.
Also popular with groups along the Ohio River is the Funky Farmhouse, a “Pinterest inspired” studio in Newburgh. This renovated barn has transformed into a spacious studio that provides group members with bare wall hangings in the shapes of letters, flowers and animals that can be colored in as creatively as you wish. Want to achieve inner serenity or welcome new scents to your house when you return home? Indiana offers several opportunities to see the candle-making process up close and even create your own unique scent. Warm Glow Candle Company in Centerville is an immense outlet store and shopping mecca that sells regional wines, handcrafted jewelry and gourmet chocolates in addition to its signature lumpy candles, which come in over 60 scents and can be used for an illuminating ambience or aromatherapy. The store will soon open its new candle-pouring studio where guests can personalize their own color, fragrance and label while witnessing the process up close.
Indiana’s other premier pour-it-yourself experience is at Penn & Beech Candle Co., located in Indianapolis’
hip Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood. Groups can create a candle, body spray or diffuser from the store’s nearly 100 scents and explore the area’s boutiques during the 90-minute candle-curing process. Group members select a container before consulting with fragrance bar professionals to create a one-of-a-kind scent from oils that range from citrus and lavender to bacon and bubblegum. Stir this mixture in with molten wax, and the result is a soothing souvenir to bring home.
While in Indianapolis, consider the area’s numerous immersive art opportunities. Located in the Broad Ripple neighborhood and the city’s premier art community, the Indianapolis Art Center offers numerous Pop-Up Art Adventures throughout the year. These experiences last around two hours and guarantee a finished piece for every guest. Potential creations for your group members include glass paperweights, tailgate cupholders and printed table runners. Resident artists can introduce visitors to lesser-known techniques such as Japanese raku ceramics, metal clay jewelry and encaustic painting (which melds colorful melted wax). For another group opportunity, head south to the nearby city of Greenwood and the Craft + Cork studio.
This trendy space can be rented out for parties and groups seeking a relaxing evening of painting and creativity. Group members pre-select their painting subject before receiving basic instructions from a resident artist and working on their canvas or decorating other objects such as welcome signs or glassware. Participants are encouraged to socialize, create their own decorative patterns and enjoy wine and craft beer offered by the studio.
Scattered across the state are eight Board & Brush franchises—studios that allow groups to select and paint their own wood signs. Group members will learn how to stress, stain and paint wood from local DIY experts and create beautiful signs to bring back home. Groups should also consider Here’s Your Sign in Goshen, which hosts regular “Wine and Sign” private events where participants paint outdoor welcome displays or decorate recycled road signs for a vintage art piece.
Discover your inner artist on the Main Street Cultural Trail, a self-guided tour that showcases over 30 galleries, studios, confectioners and restaurants in Hendricks, Morgan and Putnam counties. Visitors looking for a DIY experience in this area should stop at Bisque Barn Pottery Paint Studio in Avon. New crafters will feel comfortable painting their sign with vinyl stencils (no free drawing required) and encouraging employees who can assist group members select their stain and subject matter. Fiber artists of all levels will enjoy Nomad Yarns, which offers a large supply of yarn, fibers and notions for knitting, crochet, spinning and felting. Nomad Yarns offers regular classes, special workshops and private lessons for all ability levels in knitting, crocheting and spinning as well as occasional guest teachers in other crafts. Also in the area is uPaint, a paint-your-own pottery and glass-fusing studio that allows groups to create keepsake dinnerware and home décor with its in-house kilns.
Dubbed the “Beautiful Valley” for its stunning natural landscapes ideal for outdoor painting, Brown County is home to one of the nation’s largest art colonies. Groups can walk in the footsteps of American master T.C. Steele and leisurely explore studio space still used today by painters and artisans. Be sure to stop by Lawrence Family Glass Blowers, which carries a 40-year tradition of glassblowing excellence and allows visitors to see the process up-close in two village studios, and Homestead Weaving Studio, which repurposes more than one ton of industry excess fiber annually to produce handwoven rugs and scarves. The studio offers “day weaving” classes for groups who wish to learn loom basics and the environmental impact of fiber recycling.
The charming Tippecanoe Arts and Cultural District in Lafayette and West Lafayette offers DIY art
opportunities, including Inspired Fire Glass Studio & Gallery. Over 20 local glassblowers and artists display their work in this fully functioning glassblowing studio that offers a variety of classes for those interested in the process. Curious about creating your own magnet? Stop by Clay Critters factory and warehouse. This 16,000-square-foot manufacturing space produces whimsical ceramic refrigerator magnets and offers group tours to demonstrate how each magnet must pass a “slam door” test to ensure it won’t slide. Unlock your creative side at Painting with a Twist, which offers two- or three-hour group classes accompanied by a selection of beverages. Each group member is provided with an easel, canvas and example to follow before they begin creating their own painting with assistance from expert instructors. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and promotional deals are sometimes offered to groups of 10 or more.
Operating out of a repurposed vacation home along the shores of Winona Lake, Pottery Bayou hosts crafting parties for groups in a clean and encouraging environment. The entrance hall and dining room are populated with crafting tables, and the kitchen now contains the kiln. Craft your own creation on a potter’s wheel or, if your group is pressed for time, sign up for the shorter class and paint a variety of bowls, mugs and vases.
In Kokomo, tour America’s oldest art glass company, Kokomo Opalescent Glass, which dates back to 1888. Skilled ladlers quickly scoop molten glass from the furnace and carefully mix the glass to the exact color and texture. Over 22,000 variations of sheet glass are produced in the facility, which ships all over the
world. You can also see a glass-blowing demonstration and pick up a colorful souvenir in the gift shop.