4 craft classes to get messy at in Shanghai

Put your hands to good use with these great arts and crafts classes

Spinning around at The Pottery Workshop

Pottery

The ultimate frontier of messy hands

Who’s teaching me? The Pottery Workshop has an excellent studio, where they’ve got every tool you could ever need to fulfill those dreams of becoming a master ceramicist. They’re open seven days a week and offer a variety of classes for both adults and kids, which can be taught in either English or Chinese. The teachers here are patient and knowledgeable, explaining every step of each process and providing as much or as little guidance as you need.

What you’ll learn As a newbie, it’s recommended that you begin by developing your coil building skills to make some simple and useful pottery, so we gave it a go. The first goal is to make something ‘as tall as possible’ so that you can really get the hang of the process. With the help of our teacher, we managed to build up a jar with a lid, and we were pretty proud of ourselves. We also tried out the pottery wheel, where we weren’t quite as savvy, but Guo Laoshi’s expert hands and helpful words were there to guide us, showing us how to avoid the problems we were encountering and giving lots of tips for success.

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How about the facilities? When it comes to tools and materials, the studio has really got it together. We were very impressed with the array of colours and finishes available for glazing your work, and they seemed to have every tool you could ever imagine needing, from wheels to sculpting tools.

Take home Whatever you make! There’s no limit to how much clay you can use or how many things you can craft during your classes – just don’t forget the firing fees.

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What we liked best The fantastic quality (and patience) of the teachers really wowed us over here. There were also a lot of students who were clearly regulars; they were happy to chat and share their work with us, which definitely added to studio’s positive vibes.

Cost For adults, 1,000RMB for a set of four three-hour sessions; for kids, 600RMB for four one-hour sessions. Take note of a few hidden costs: a one-time tool fee of 35RMB (waived for new students) and an apron fee of 60RMB, so we’d recommend bringing your own. Firing costs vary from 25-35RMB per kilo, depending on the size and shape of the item. They also have one-time classes that can be arranged for parties and groups; the more people you have, the lower the cost per person.

The Pottery Workshop is at 1A, Lane 180, Shanxi Nan Lu, near Changle Le, Jingan district.

Screen-printing

For detail-oriented hands

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Who’s teaching me? IdleBeats Print Club is a community-based screen-printing space hiding in a basement near Jiaotong University. It’s an offshoot of the screen-printing pros IdleBeats, whose designs you’ve likely seen on live show posters or shop logos. They offer beginners’ workshops (in English and Chinese) and also do the creative community good by providing an open studio space where screen-printing lovers can seek expert advice and practice the trade without having to personally invest in all of the necessary equipment.

What you’ll learn We signed up for the beginners’ workshop, where we learned the many steps that go into a screen-print, from artwork preparation to finished product.

How about the facilities? IB Print Club is a fully equipped professional printing studio, and thus they have all of the equipment and machinery necessary for the whole production line, from screens and presses to paints, squeegees and a big machine that uses heat and light to transfer your design onto the mesh screens. We would’ve liked a few more choices in terms of colour options for our personal prints, but were happy with the tri-tonal results.

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Take home Your choice between a t-shirt or canvas tote bag printed with your own design, as well as a hefty pile of your paper prints. As a bonus, the team throws in a stack of cool stickers with original designs.

What we liked best The artsy attendees and professional-but-casual team really make the experience.

Cost The beginners’ workshop is 400RMB per person for a two-hour session; open studio sessions are 1,200RMB for a set of four three-hour blocks.

IdleBeats Print Club is at 115 Pingwu Lu, near Xingfu Lu, Xuhui district.

Woodworking

Some hands like it rough

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Who’s teaching me? At ZoWoo workshop and DIY carpentry store, you can walk in for one-on-one lessons in woodworking, or use the shop space to work on personal projects. The shop’s dedicated and diligent craftsmen will help you construct a tasteful piece from start to finish, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro. You will, however, need at least basic Chinese language skills for this one.

What you’ll learn We did a walk-in project with one of ZoWoo’s carpenters, and though the lessons are appropriate for any and all skill levels, it should be said that these projects take both time and concentration, as you’ll be working with some very professional equipment. After being presented with a wide variety of options in terms of what we wanted to make, we settled on a stylised rustic lamp, which we make from start (solid wood block) to finish using a mechanical lathe.

How about the facilities? This is a full-on wood shop with all of the tools and machinery you need to craft pieces big and small. You’ve got your choice of all kinds of things to make, from chairs, cutting boards and music boxes to the lamp we chose, and you can craft them from a nice variety of wood types and colour tones. Some projects can be finished in a day, whereas others will require several visits.

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Take home The wooden fruits of your labour.

What we liked best We were very happy to find that the ZoWoo instructors pay great attention to safety and the necessary precautions of working with some serious machinery. They’ve got all the protective gear you need.

Cost Varies depending on item, but there’s just one fee that includes both labour and material costs. Prices start at around 168RMB and max out at 1,880RMB.

ZoWoo is at eighth floor, Joy City, 180 Xuzang Bei Lu, near Qufu Lu, Zhabei district.

Soap-making

A craft for clean hands

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Who’s teaching me? The cute and welcoming Craft’d Shanghai studio is set up for all kinds of courses and activities for both adults and children, like sewing, knitting and candle pouring to messy kids’ play. At the moment, workshops are only given in English, though this may soon expand to Chinese as well.

What you’ll learn The two-hour workshop covers the user-friendly process of ‘melt-and-pour’ soap-making, where you’re given an already-prepared base to melt down and mix with add-ins, scents and colour tints. The process is easy and stress-free. We created two different bars – a lavender oil and honey with dried lavender buds and coconut oil, and a sandalwood oil with basil and orange essential oils, plus oats for exfoliation.

How about the facilities? The materials provided for soap-making are basic but include a good assortment of colours, fragrances and add-ins: exfoliants like poppy seeds and oats; olive, almond and coconut oils; dried lemon peels and flowers buds, and others. In terms of moulds, they have nice options to choose from, and we particularly love the ones shaped like mooncakes.

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Take home All of the bars you’ve made, beautifully packaged.

What we liked best We were quite happy with the total freedom we had to craft whatever style soap we wanted without needing to develop any particular skills or learn many new methods. It was simple, fun and easy, with little risk of messing up your product. Everyone left happy.

Cost 200RMB per person.

Craft'd Shanghai is at 381 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu, Xuhui district.
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