Visiting artist studios is a long-time passion of mine. Spending an afternoon perusing spaces where people spend time to solely pursue their passion to create is, in a word, awe-inspiring. Perhaps it is thanks to my five-year stint as a fine arts student, but I’ll never forget or get tired of the magic of seeing in-progress works, shelves full of sketchbooks or the animated brainstorming sessions over coffee or wine.
Perhaps you’re like me and you’ve been seeking out a place to express your creative side or you’ve never taken an art class in your life but you need to start doing something with your hands to balance out life and work. Well, I’d like to introduce you to a place called Workshop. Located in a historical brass foundry in East Inglewood, Workshop is a fabulous makers space that is lovingly owned and operated by Becky McMaster and Andrew Frosst, two practicing artists in their own right, who run a design, renovation and fabrication business called Salt Design.
“We’ve been actively engaged in the Calgary arts community for many years and have collaborated together on personal art and design projects which lead us to start Salt Design,” shares McMaster. “After designing and building Purr Inglewood we were on the hunt for a new woodshop and dreamt of starting Workshop. We submitted formal applications for spaces throughout Calgary for over a year, searching for a location to build our concept but ended up finding Workshop through a Kijiji ad while having a breakfast at The Blackfoot Diner just down the road. It felt like it was meant to be!”
McMaster and Frosst’s role at Workshop has been transforming the space from a concrete bunker into what is now a functional arts facility, programming classes, setting up studios and welcoming new artists and members.
Workshop currently has 27 artists working, collaborating and designing in their artist studios. The studio members work in all mediums from ceramics to glass to woodcraft to performance and installation. The environment is positive and supportive, with McMaster and Frosst both ensuring the space is safe and inclusive for anyone seeking this kind of space to feel comfortable working in. “We are very aware of how women are underrepresented in the construction, trade and creative industries and wanted to create a safe space for women and really everyone from all genders, sexual orientation, race, etc. – where they can come and work in a positive, supportive environment,” shares McMaster.
Beyond the studio members, the general public is welcome to take part in their various levels of classes in the ceramics studio – something that Calgary is certainly hungry for. The ceramic arts are such an amazing way to delve into an art practice with some great practical payoff in the end – a finished product that you actually get to use.
“We offer ceramic classes in wheel throwing and hand building,” says McMaster. “Our instructors are fantastic and come with a wealth of knowledge. They will help students with foundation or advanced skills – and whether they are learning on the pottery wheel or handbuilding, their goal is to lead students to success. Glazing and firing costs, as well as 12 practice hours and one free bag of clay is all included in our class pricing.”
The ceramics facility includes 12 brand new CSA approved Shimpo RK Whisper wheels, a 30” Bailey slab roller with a 72” table, wedging tables, an extruder and a variety of kilns. The space is open, bright and inspiring – you’ll immediately feel at home thanks to their great instructors and welcoming studio space. Workshop still has some fantastic fall Ceramics Classes available for registration including hand-building, wheel throwing and more. They are also hosting a shibori/indigo dye workshop that sounds absolutely incredible. They are always updating their calendar with new class offerings and special workshops so keep an eye on their Instagram or their online calendar for details.
I love that Workshop is making the ceramic arts approachable, attainable and exciting for Calgarians who want to learn how to make beautiful, useful and functional objects while getting their hands a little dirty.
Visit Workshop: 2501 Alyth Road SE