Photos courtesy of The Casita Workshop
by Blake Herzog
Casa Grande artist Patti Kramer has been working out of a building at 127 W. Wilson St. since she and her husband Joe purchased it in 2006, steadily transforming it from a trio of rundown apartments into her art studio and other rentable spaces.
“Joe and I and friends and family enjoyed fixing it up and it was rewarding to see the changes evolve,” she says. “I still love going to it every day.”
When the 500-square-foot space on the east end of the building became available last year, it was time to expand her footprint downtown and her already considerable involvement with the community.
Casita Workshop, a place for local painters, jewelers, potters and other creators to teach and learn about various arts and crafts, opened in July 2021.
Kramer’s envisioned herself and other experienced artists offering classes in fine arts and crafts to the community. Although she had to cancel the first class after nobody signed up, the response quickly picked up.
“I didn’t really know if anyone would be interested in taking classes, so I was thrilled when people started signing up for them!” she says.
A palette of choices
Today she’s leading classes in ceramics, dyeing and other textile arts, mosaic and papermaking classes. Edna Harris teaches several watercolor workshops; Bruce Berry focuses on oil painting; and Erin Warner on fused glass.
Oil and watercolor classes are geared to beginning, intermediate and advanced students while most others are introductory.
Most classes have four to seven participants, mostly from Casa Grande but with a few coming in from Coolidge, Eloy, Arizona City and even Tucson and Phoenix.
Kramer said some of the most interesting creations have come out of the less well-known formats she’s taught including hypertufa, which uses a mixture of cement, peat moss, vermiculite, pearlite and sand to create garden pots that are lighter than clay or concrete.
“There were a lot of surprises with the end results, which made it extra fun,” she says.
Among the most popular classes so far are beginning watercolor, mosaic stepping stones, fused glass jewelry and ceramics open clay, in which students can make anything they choose. Most sessions are geared toward adults, with the age limit on some classes as low as 13.
Kramer said she hopes to offer more youth classes, along with dozens more crafts and arts classes including drawing, poetry, sculpture, basketry, scrapbooking, stained glass and chalk art.
Two new workshops are coming this fall, led by Neola Bye-Beza (beading) and Ann Miller (macraweaving, a combination of macrame and weaving).
Kramer is always looking for more instructors, who should have extensive experience in the medium but don’t need to have taught it before.
“The current instructors didn’t have previous experience teaching and they are really enjoying the experience, and the participants are enjoying learning from them,” she says.
Visit www.casitaworkshop.com to learn more and register for classes.