These Hands Maker’s Collective flourishes in new location

By Katie Lulla

Denise Ambrosi founded These Hands Maker’s Collective in 2019 to form a creative community.

These Hands Maker’s Collective is back to in-person classes with a permanent brick-and-mortar space at Pour Vida Art and Plant house on Lincoln Boulevard. Over the last year, Denise Ambrosi has not only adjusted to the pandemic but has made a thriving business that gives people the ability to make art.

“(At the beginning of the pandemic), I just had to like stop and kind of regroup and think ‘people need this and I have to figure out a way to help them get it,’” Ambrosi said. “A lot of people have told me that taking my classes or being able to continue to be creative or even just having that community had really helped them through the pandemic. I’ve met so many artists and Makers, my students, since then, and I feel like this community has grown so much.

These Hands Maker’s Collective was first started in 2019 and came from Ambrosi’s desire to form a creative community. Ambrosi looked for artists that she admired and rented art spaces for her classes. The workshops focus on giving Makers a foundation in art techniques.

“That’s one of the main things that I tell my artists, I don’t want them to feel that someone is going to be stealing their work or learning how to do what they do,” Ambrosi said. “You can’t necessarily teach art. You can teach the process and then people use their own creative mind to take it in a direction that they want to take it.”

In July 2020, the pandemic pushed These Hands Maker’s Collective to close and Ambrosi immediately pivoted and put everything online. This only expanded the Maker community as artists and Makers were invited from all over the world.

This year, Ambrosi has resumed in-person and online hybrid classes at a permanent location.

“The great part about the place where we are is that it’s an indoor-outdoor space,” Ambrosi said. “There’s a courtyard, there’s a gazebo and there’s an indoor retail space. You can really work anywhere that you’re comfortable.”

Workshops have an average of 15 people. Ambrosi focuses on every individual and makes sure to have no more than 20 people on Zoom classes and no more than 10 in person due to social distancing.

“People are getting more comfortable and we’re just back to learning some really fun skills and making things with our hands,” Ambrosi said. “It’s really therapeutic for people.”

In addition to Makers workshops, These Hands Maker’s Collective has started a Makers Membership that allows Makers to test out different tools. There are three memberships available: a $50 a month membership, a three-month advance membership for $47.50 a month and a six-month advance membership for $45 a month.

“You have access to all the tools in our shop: shoe making tools, leather-making supplies, knitting and anything that you would want to do,” Ambrosi said.

“You can use our supplies and we have a library of reference books. You can kind of just try things out before you actually go out and buy all the supplies that you need. That way you can kind of come and be with other people that are creating and be inspired get kind of some tips and tricks on what to do.”
Ambrosi is also working on kits that are made by different artists. Many artists aren’t local, so they make little booklets and technique kits instead.

“The artists work with me to put these together and it shows how they actually do what they do. You can learn from an artist that you really admire. (You can learn) how they get the paints to mix the way they do or how they make different reactions with watercolors,” Ambrosi said. “It’s just interesting to be able to learn real techniques that the artist is using instead of a textbook.”

Most recently, These Hands Maker’s Collective has partnered with Pour Vida Art and Plant House to do monthly mobile workshops from the owner’s mobile plant truck. As an example, Ambrosi said that people could make Macramé plant hangers and buy a plant to put in it.

“I have a lot of people who will come to take classes and say ‘I’ve never done anything like this before’ and they will create the best things because they’re not worried about the outcome,” Ambrosi said. “I would say my most important takeaway for my members would be just to try. See what it feels like to just create something and just to be creative. I want them to feel that sense of ‘I did this with my hands and I never thought I could.’”