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Get Schooled

Enrich Yourself in 2011

For those of you who have designated this as the year to learn a new craft or skill, San Francisco presents nearly endless possibilities. Here is our first guide of the year to get you started.

Release Your Inner Graff Artist
These days just about anyone who wants to can throw up an ugly scrawl anywhere and call it “graffiti.” But don’t be fooled; these amateur scribbles bear little correspondence to what was once considered one of the four pillars of hip-hop (the others being MCing, DJing and breakdancing). Rare are the bubble letters and flourishes that helped elevate graff artists as talented artists who created admirable works of art.

But all is not lost. Former graffiti artist Nate1 schools pupils in the history and methods of graffiti at 1:AM (short for “First Amendment”), a gallery dedicated to street/urban art. For $50 you’ll study the history and evolution of graffiti, familiarizing yourself with pioneers of the movement, different lettering styles. The gallery also offers hands-on practice in a legal setting. The introductory class is offered monthly, after which you can graduate to level 2 ($80) to hone your lettering skills on canvas (which you get to take home), along with a black book, traditionally used by graff artists to develop and fine-tune letters. Private/group workshops also available.

Brew Your Own Beer
Love beer and curious about brewing your own? Brewcraft’s “brewmaster” Griz teaches free classes every Monday night at 6pm, only requiring your RSVP by 2pm the day you wish to attend. In business since 1978, Brewcraft sells anything and everything you need to create your own beer or wine. Whether you’re a novice or seeking tips to hone your skills, you’ll find it here with no pretentiousness.

Grow Your Green Thumb
Whether you want to learn about organic gardening, garden tool maintenance, irrigation systems, fruit tree cultivation, grafting, composting, and beyond, San Francisco’s the organic demonstration garden at Garden for the Environment has a class for you. Most range from free to $15, providing accessible gardening education to just about anyone. Is this the year you start your vegetable garden or fruit tree orchard? Garden for the Environment is an easy way to find out.

Learn to Sew
Those yearning to get into sewing have many options. Sew-It-All is a good one. This sewing studio in the Marina offers private and small group classes ranging from pillowcase-making to pant-hemming, “survival sewing” (fix rips and re-sew buttons) to garment recycling, seam finishing, zippers, and more. Open lab-style classes are offered in sessions of three ($99) and you pick your own project to complete. The first session covers sewing machine basics, and machines are available if you don’t have your own.

Chinese Arts
At Joseph Fine Art School and Gallery, Chinese Art education is divided into seven disciplines: Impressionist Style Chinese Brush Painting (landscapes, flowers, birds), Elaborate Style Chinese Brush Painting, Decorative Style Chinese Brush Painting (Western colors/materials, classical Chinese style), calligraphy, ceramics, cartooning (for children), and sketching. Classes run twelve weeks on a semester schedule.

Home Maintenance
The team at Jill of All Trades will teach you the basics of home maintenance and repair: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and painting. Other class topics include how to set a floor and interior/exterior painting. Tuesday Tool Talks will teach you about your tools and their uses. Bring your tools and come prepared for power tool demonstrations. Very handy to new homeowners or those who just want to be a little more handy and self-sufficient.