There’s nothing quite as cringe-worthy as the sound of our kiddos saying “I’m bored” when there’s a room full of toys and games, but let’s face it — even us grownups feel it sometimes, if we ever get a moment of peace that is. We have more gadgets than ever before, but somehow still find our hands in need of an art project now and then. So put down the iPad and make room on the fridge or in the china cabinet for your next big masterpiece. We’ve got the hot spots for artistic expression of any kind–rain or shine. And the best part? You don’t even have to clean up.

Kids Painting Pottery

San Francisco

Terra Mia Ceramics Studio
Terra Mia Ceramic Studios in Noe Valley is sunny, welcoming, eco-friendly, and tons of fun. It’s the perfect setting for a languid afternoon project where everyone can just drop in and purchase already-fired unpainted pottery pieces and paint them yourself. Even toddlers can master the projects here. You can curl up in their comfy window seat and paint everything ranging from mugs and saucers to piggy banks. Owner Christine Emerson also helps interested artists of all ages mold soft clay to make hand & footprints which can be turned into funky wall clocks.

Insider Tip: Terra Mia offers a year-round 20% online coupon you can print and bring for any & all First Timers.

1314 Castro Street
San Francisco, Ca
Information: 415-642-9911
Online: terramia.net

Terra Mia Ceramic Photo

Craft Haven Collective
Hayes Valley’s Craft Haven Collective is run by hip designer Kelly Williams, a self described “All around DIY super creative kinda gal.” Families love the cool, hipster vibe here which keeps everything laid back for beginners. The instructors are well versed in how to make sewing machines user friendly by offering up a three-part learn-the-basics package called “The Works” that turns even the worst butterfingers into instruments of needle-and-thread wizardry so this is a particularly good spot for older kids. There’s the right fit project for everyone to sew, take home, and then use and reuse.

853 Fell Street
San Francisco, Ca
Information: 415-358-0739
Online: crafthaven.org

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San Francisco Children’s Art Center
There’s always something to do at San Francisco Children’s Art Center, the non-profit studio located in Fort Mason Center. There’s a wide range of projects available with a focus on basics like clay and playdough as well as drawing, but older children can dive wholeheartedly into bookmaking, architectural sculpture, and make-your-own puppet theaters. Very fun Side-by-Side Classes have moms and dads working alongside little ones aged 22 months to 5, specifically designed for toddlers and pre-school aged artists. The ambiance here is full-on fab with a local vegetarian restaurant in Fort Mason, and benches aplenty to sit and enjoy the Bay views.

Insider Tip: It’s open for regular classes, drop ins, and affordable birthday parties where each child gets a gift certificate for a free class.

Fort Mason Center, Building C
San Francisco, Ca
Information: 415-771-0292
Online: childrensartcenter.org

SCRAP
Housed in a 5,000 square foot warehouse, SCRAP is the acronym for Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts. From a recovered pillow to a fanciful homemade costume, creative reuse includes all projects that incorporate materials that would otherwise be thrown away. With this massive square footage everyone can take their time poking around the seemingly endless bins of all manner of “junk” for this and that, transforming what could have been discarded into something unique and new.

801 Toland Street
San Francisco, Ca
Information: 415-647-1746
Online: scrap-sf.org

SCRAP Photo

826 Valencia Street
People: step away from those iPads! Head over to 826 Valencia Street (named after its street location), founded by famed local writer Dave Eggers, for real deal bookmaking the old fashioned way. 826 offers up unique and inventive – completely free – workshops galore, and the programs always end with a tangible finished product, like a newspaper, a book, or a film. For giggles, there’s also a Pirate Shop housed in the workspace with some Emergency Treasure Burial Sand (really! $6.00) you can purchase for your little mateys to continue the imagination all the way home and into their own backyards. Ahoy!

Insider Tip: Parents take note: the suggested age for all the programs is 6 and above.

826 Valencia Street
San Francisco, Ca
Information: 415-642-5905
Online: 826valencia.org

Marin County

Doodlebug Art Studio
In Marin, San Anselmo’s Doodlebug Art Studio is charming and definitely geared strictly just for kids. This is a bright and airy multi-purpose space where the kiddos can paint pottery, make a mosaic, do decoupage, paint a wooden treasure box or some other wooden item, knit a nifty scarf or do any one of a countless variety of projects. There’s also a once a month Pajama Night: a casual get-together where regulars put on PJ’s, munch pizza, play games, and have faces painted.

641 San Anselmo Avenue
San Anselmo, Ca
Information: 415-456-5989
Online: doodlebugmarin.com

doodlebug-kids-clay-art

South Bay

Color Me Mine
For one of the Bay Area’s standout selections of items ready-to-paint, there’s friendly Color Me Mine in Menlo Park.  Literally, there are more than 400 different pieces to paint ranging from dolphins, to frogs, to mermaids and other aquatic life. There are plates, platters and bowls in lots of useful sizes and shapes, even cookie jars, napkin rings, and a snazzy miniature claw foot bathtub. Color Me Mine’s basic 4-step philosophy here is: Pick It, Paint It, Fire It, Take It – with an iron-clad promise to amuse children of all ages, including infants!

Insider Tip: Parents can make a quick & easy party reservation online with just a few clicks.

602 Santa Cruz Avenue
Menlo Park, Ca
Information: 650-328-4486
Online: colormeminemenlopark.com

Where do you go to feed your DIY side and make a creative masterpiece?

— Mireille Schwartz

Photos courtesy of: Anja Nettew (Flickr), Terra Mia Ceramic Studios, SCRAP, Maryanne Rodriguez (826 Valencia), Doodlebug Marin