Adult Education / Arts and Crafts: Handmade Dreams


Mosaics seem to be appearing everywhere, from new murals in subway stations to tabletops at Pottery Barn. Robert Hickman, who teaches the mosaic-making class at UrbanGlass, the granddaddy of glassblowing schools, fell in love with mosaics on a trip to Pompeii in 1989. A mildly eccentric obsessive, Hickman likes to expose his students to the hundreds of different historical mosaic styles – from Roman to Moorish and Byzantine – but this beginners’ class is still clearly about technique. Students start with a Greek reproduction using marble, then follow it with a small Byzantine spiral pattern using smalti, pieces of colorful Venetian glass. They conclude by designing and executing their own larger projects.

“Mosaics,” twelve sessions, Mondays beginning September 28, 6 to 9 p.m.; $600, plus $50 enrollment fee. UrbanGlass, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn (718-625-3685, extension 237).


Time to wipe the dust off the camera you asked for on your last birthday and learn what all those buttons and meters really do. If you are tired of blurry snapshots of your thumb or if you still think an f-stop is something on the IRT, the International Center of Photography’s “Photo I in Color” class can help. While most beginner classes in photography stick with black and white and devote hours to the darkroom, Gerard Vezzuso starts his students in color and allows more time to shoot pictures and critique the results. A professional “printer to the stars” (he does work for Nan Goldin and Philip Lorca di Corcia), Vezzuso has taught several undergraduate programs, but the adult-education classes are still his favorite. “They are so serious about their work. Who else is going to take a three-hour class on Saturday morning?” One of his students, a 55-year-old retired dancer and interior designer, went on to have several shows in SoHo. Vezzuso did all her printing.

“Photo I in Color,” ten sessions, Saturdays beginning October 3, 10:30 to 1:30 p.m.; $445, plus $70 lab fee and $30 registration fee. International Center of Photography, 1130 Fifth Avenue, at 94th Street (860-1776, extension 156).


Ever wonder where all those beautiful, handcrafted sheets of thick, textured paper at Kate’s Paperie come from? Not from trees, which is where commercial paper originates. Pat Almonrode teaches classes in the nearly lost art of fine papermaking at the Dieu Donné Papermill, and he likes to explain that handmade paper is better because it is more ecological and more durable. It also looks nicer. Founded in 1976, “The Mill” supplies customers like Chuck Close, Louise Bourgeois, and the Library of Congress with archive-quality paper for artworks, books, and documents. “Most people don’t know that 99 percent of the paper they use comes from wood pulp,” says Almonrode. “But the handmade paper we make is from plant fibers.” It lasts, he says, pretty much forever. In “Basic Papermaking,” students get to experiment with a smorgasbord of fibers – corn, flax, even lilies – and learn how to pull the pulp into a sheet of paper. For finishing touches, they learn how to emboss and watermark their finished sheets.

“Basic Papermaking,” five sessions, Wednesdays beginning September 16, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; $220. Dieu Donné Papermill, 433 Broome Street (226-0573).


With his thick Russian accent, Leonid Lerman speaks modestly about his own work as a sculptor, though he’s represented by the prestigious McKee sculpture gallery on Fifth Avenue. He’s also reticent when it comes to talking about his Portrait in Clay Sculpture class at the Sculpture Center. Students, however, can’t say enough about him: “He may be a genius. Before I met him, I was this Renaissance devotee, and then he introduced me to Egyptian and African sculpture, monumental and decorative sculpture,” says one former student who was so impressed by Lerman’s teaching tradition that he went to study at his teacher’s alma mater in St. Petersburg. “He changed my whole concept about art.” In Lerman’s class, which is open to beginners, students first create quick three-dimensional sketches of a model, concentrating on mood, gesture, and balance. Afterward, the class selects one pose and sculpts the human figure on 15-to-30-inch armatures. Lerman wants students to keep things open and not stick to any one aesthetic. “He’s really passionate,” says one satisfied customer. “It just becomes contagious.”

“Portrait in Clay Sculpture,” eight sessions, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning October 2, 2 to 5 p.m.; $150. Sculpture Center, 167 East 69th Street (737-9870).


Elissa Meyrich is a spitfire. Wearing leopard-skin pants and purple-frame glasses, she talks animatedly about the perils of the “biting crotch” (tight inseam) and “sloping shoulder” (material that hangs improperly). She teaches an intermediate sewing class at Sew Fast, Sew Easy School, located in an atelierlike studio space on West 57th Street. Meyrich aims to bring sex back to the sewing circle (“Sewing is not fuddy-duddy-grandma-style here”), and her students tend to be young, fashionable, and well versed in Prada and Gucci. You may not become the next Daryl K., but Meyrich and her staff can make sure you know how to fashion sporty, well-made clothes.

Six sessions, Thursdays beginning September 24, 5:45 to 8:30 p.m.; $227.50. Sew Fast, Sew Easy School, 147 West 57th Street, second floor (582-5889).


The Graduate School of Figurative Art is known for its classical approach to drawing, with strict lessons in anatomy and form. But Ann McCoy likes to break with tradition now and then in her “Drawing in the Museums” class. A self-described Irish oddball, Ann often leads her students, both beginner and experienced, out of the studio to visit her favorite inspirational places: from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Southeast Asian Wing of the Metropolitan Museum. “We’re not in Dubuque,” she laughs, “so there’s no reason to work in some windowless classroom.” She also invites guest lecturers to deepen students’ appreciation of their subjects – like the Chippewa priest who discussed Native American culture. “I want my students to understand what they’re drawing, be it a warrior shield or a Grecian urn. This is a holistic approach to drawing.”

“Drawing in the Museums,” twelve sessions, Wednesdays beginning September 23, 2 to 5 p.m.; $350. Graduate School of Figurative Art, 111 Franklin Street (966-0300).


“Hollowware is really big right now,” says Jonathan Wahl. “Calvin Klein and Donna Karan are featuring it in their new home collections.” Wahl, an accomplished metalsmith, happens to teach metalworking at the Craft Students League. “This is going to be a cool class – candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers, cups – you can make as many things as you have time for.” Class members will fabricate their own objects from sheets of sterling silver and then cast found objects, like buttons and smaller trinkets, to make handles and finials.

“Hollowware and Fabrication,” twelve sessions, Wednesdays beginning September 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; $270. Craft Students League, 610 Lexington Avenue (735-9731).

Adult Education / Arts and Crafts: Handmade Dreams