The Art of Learning New Crafts

 Arts and crafts are about to make the leap from the kids’ favorite summer camp activity to extraordinary vacation adventures for adults.

By: Ginger Dingus

Online Exclusive

Arts and crafts are about to make the leap from the kids’ favorite summer camp activity to extraordinary vacation adventures for adults. It happens this summer when Atlantic Canada’s artsy town of Fredericton, New Brunswick, jumps on the learning vacation bandwagon in a bold new way.

Fredericton Tourism is launching edVentures Fredericton. Not only will clients bring home new art-oriented skills from their visit to Fredericton the provincial capital and home to the renowned New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Canada’s only college dedicated exclusively to crafts they’ll be packing up their own handmade souvenirs as well.

EdVentures is an ambitious program of workshops available to visitors who book in advance. Over 60 local artists and craftsmen are on board to teach courses such as pottery, painting, rug hooking and digital photography. The college’s metal arts studio head, Brigitte Clavette, offers classes in silversmithing with the end product being a shimmering goblet or bowl. Trudy Gallagher, a professional jeweler and owner of the trendy Bejewel Gallery, teaches attendees to design and make personalized baubles and bangles.

“I’m particularly excited about edVentures,” Gallagher said. “We’re no longer like our moms and grandmothers. They went on vacation to lie on the beach. Now we want to be doing things, to have a hands-on learning experience. Even if you never make another pair of earrings, you’ll have an appreciation for what it took to make them.”

By developing learning vacations with an artistic theme, “We’re repackaging the assets of the school in a summer program,” said David Seabrook, manager of Fredericton Tourism. “It’s such a good fit for our community. It allows us to showcase what we’re already doing.”

Aside from teaching fine crafts, what the town is already doing is sharing its rural heritage. With edVentures, clients have a unique opportunity to spend a day immersed in the past at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. Options include learning skills necessary to early pioneers blacksmithing, open-hearth baking and flax processing. Classes are held at the recreated 1800s village on the banks of the St. John River. Instructors wear period dress and assume the characters of old-time settlers.

In 2008, edVentures Fredericton runs from July 7 to Aug. 22. Five-day, Monday-through-Friday workshops focus on a single craft and begin at about $300, plus materials. More casual, one- and two-day weekend classes are available for clients short on time. While most workshops are for adults (ages 16 and up), kids can learn how to draw cartoons or make puppets and dolls. Agents receive 15 percent commission.