You know what I love? Coffee. You know what else I love? Cheap, low key, drop in, low maintenance, and FUN activities for my littles. Bonus points if they require little advance planning on my part. Because, you know, mamas be tired. Extra super bonus points if I can drink my coffee during said event. Well my friends, I have an event for you that meets all of these requirements!! Not even kidding! Let me introduce you to...
Selco Saturday Kids Workshop at MECCA
Now, it's possible that two of the words in the above line might not even ring a bell to you. So let me help. Selco is a local credit union, and they sponsor these Saturday kiddo workshops. MECCA stands for Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts. You guys. This building. It's a tiny little space that is literally packed to the ceiling with anything remotely artsy or recycled that you could imagine. Yarn, old greeting cards, baby food jars, Altoid tins, wine corks, magnets...yeah, they've got just about everything.
MECCA is such a neat community organization. It's the sort of thing that makes me proud to live here in Eugene. They take materials that would end up in landfills and repurpose them, often creating very cool art. They really want to inspire people to create, and they have all of the stuff to do so.
So anyway. I have wanted to check out a Selco Saturday Kids Workshop forever, and haven't ever made it down there. But last weekend we did. Hooray! I love that it's a drop in deal - from 11 to 3, you can just pop on in. I also love that they have a sliding scale for donations. In fact, they seemed really unconcerned about collecting any money at all, which was good, because I may or may not have spent my $4 at a garage sale on the way there (Dude! Wooden blocks! What do you expect?) so I put my $0.75 in the donation jar and mentally promised that I'd bring a few bucks extra next time.
The whole thing was just so casual - which I LOVE. I have been to enough events where you're in a giant crowd, trying to share materials with said crowd, and everyone is trying to reach for and use all the stuff in the little space at once, (I'm looking at you Home Depot). This was SO not that. There were only 3 other kids while we were there, which left plenty of space. There were a bazillion options for materials. The instructor Mark (hi Mark!) showed us the materials, gave us a few suggestions for using them for our projects (we did collages), and then he turned us loose.
Let's talk about Mark. I don't know if he's usually there, or if all of the instructors there are as great as he is, but oh man - he was so friendly to my kiddo. He learned and used his name, made thoughtful comments about his art, and dug out examples of wood cutting tools when my boy asked about how a print on the wall was made. So good job MECCA for keeping art loving, kiddo encouraging adults around!
I think on some Saturdays they do projects with a little more direction/product than the collages we made. On their website they mention balloon hovercrafts and sock creatures. Those both sound super fun. But honestly, I am always secretly a bit relieved when I don't have to coach my kid through some project that is supposed to look exactly like the example that the teacher made. Where's the creativity in that? Also, how am I supposed to catch up on the 14 text conversations I'm days behind on if I'm trying to make sure that my little puts the googly eyes in the right spot on his robot? Kidding. Sort of.
While the website says that it's an all ages event, I am going to pull a negative nelly and say honestly that I wouldn't take my under 2-ish kiddo. Or my can't-not-touch-everything kiddo. The entire building is very eclectic and artsy and not at all kid friendly. And it shouldn't have to be - it's an art center after all. It's not a kid-centric spot. So just be aware that there are lots of sharp things (wires, mirror pieces, etc), very narrow aisles (don't even think about bringing a stroller - just don't.), and boxes of random stuff just begging to be dumped out all over the floor. Also, the space is used to make art, and art is...well...messy. It's not a place where I would feel comfortable plopping my crawler down on the floor to play while big brother worked on a project. This weekend I left my 9 month old at home to play with daddy and took my 4 year old on a special "date", which I reckon was good for all of us.
Okay, other random notes:
- Wear clothes that can get dirty/ruined. My kid drug his arm through purple fabric puff paint. Whoops.
- Be prepared to be as hands on or hands off as your kiddo requires. Maybe they're feeling like they really need your attention and support in getting that project just right. Great - good thing you left the two smaller kiddos at home. Or maybe they're feeling super independent. Great - I bet nobody would mind if you worked on a little project yourself.
- The workshops are held in their studio, but while you're there, check out the store. Take a bit of time to explore it with your little. It is a treasure trove of color, texture, and imagination. Enjoy some creative conversation.
- MECCA has a great website. Not only is it super well maintained and organized, it has a great list of artsy websites for inspiration.
- The Teacher's Resource Center is full of stuff that is just for educators - and it's all totally free! Tell all of the teachers in the land!
All in all, I thought this kiddo art workshop was just a really relaxing and fun way to connect with your little and to encourage them to create some awesome art. Go check it out! Let me know what you make!
449 Willamette St
Parking: There's a free lot, but don't accidentally park in the spots marked for Oregon Electric Station. They'll tow you. Yikes.
Cost: They ask for a $3-5 donation.
Food: None available, but I don't think they'd mind if you fed your kid a snack or if you brought in your latte.
Resting/Nursing Spots: There are chairs in the studio
Time Frame: We spent an hour and a half there creating. You can take as little or as much time as you'd like.
MECCA has generously donated two $15 gift cards!
Just think of how much awesome stuff you could get!
Comment here with your favorite thing to find at a
Reduce Reuse Recycle place
(aka MECCA, thrift stores, garage sales)
& you'll be entered to win!
We'll choose winners on Saturday, May 2 at 9pm.