Ultimate Art Camp for Grades 5-9 pairs the Center for Creative Exploration with the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen

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Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Picture an arts camp for kids that very well could make the parents jealous:

That’s pretty much the reaction when people learn about what’s going on at Ultimate Art Camp, a weeklong August experience for young artists in grades 5-9 that pairs an instructor from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design’s Center for Creative Education with expert members from the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.

Mornings will be spent at PCA&D creating art, before walking a couple city blocks to PGC’s headquarters. There, they’ll explore a whole different set of skills. It’s a collaboration, say organizers from both institutions, that enhances what each can offer individually. 

It’s a lineup of fine art and craft art lessons that goes far beyond a single-topic camp to give students a wide range of experiences. From glass-blowing and leatherwork to figure drawing and relief block printing, the classes are designed not only to complement each other, but also to drop students into entirely new art forms. 

This in-person camp is open to all skill levels, and provides an atmosphere for self-discovery, camaraderie, and small-group learning.


Interested? Learn more and register here!


Together, says Kelly Rapp, the Guild’s Workshop Coordinator, “we sought out instructors and subjects that younger students may not have access to like jewelry fabrication, glassblowing, and fabric dyeing. We thought that students would be excited to learn about these subjects while making their own unique pieces in the process.

“… Our organizations’ missions and focus of the fine arts and the craft arts” work well together, Rapp adds. 

The Guild, Rapp says, “has been interested in offering a summer camp to younger children for several years. Working with PCA&D enables us to not only collaborate with another great teaching facility but also to reach an audience that we don’t typically have for our workshops.”

Morning classes at PCA&D will include four classes with Shelby Young, an instructor with PCA&D’s Center for Creative Exploration

  • Watercolor resist painting: Students will create designs using oil pastels as a resist and then apply watercolor painting over their markings to add color. This is a direct link to the Pysanky – Ukrainian Easter eggs — project the students also will explore during Ultimate Art Camp. 
  • Figure drawing: Students will learn to draw proportional human faces and body parts, strengthening their observational skills and preparing them for a multitude of future art projects. 
  • Relief block printing: Echoing the stamping techniques learned in the Guild’s leatherwork projects, students will focus on shapes and lines as they carve rubber blocks with which to print repeated designs. 
  • Charcoal still life drawing: Students will learn to draw transparent objects and focus on value in a still life setup before diving into blowing glass at the Guild. 

Instructor Shelby Young earned his BFA in Illustration from PCA&D, and his Masters in Art Education from Millersville University. And he is, says Natalie Lascek, Director of the Center for Creative Exploration, “an amazing instructor for this age range. He is extremely approachable, very observant, and he is great at being able to take a pause and help a student get back on track should they find themselves in a place where they aren’t feeling confident in taking the next step.”

Meanwhile, during afternoons at the Guild, students will explore a different skill each day:

  • Indigo Dyeing: Instructor Carol Reed is trained as a painter, and a batik course in Italy introduced her to batik and dyes. She has her own dye garden and sources additional dyes through connections with local farmers and community members.
  • Glassblowing: Instructor Michael Peluso will show students how to transform rods of borosilicate glass into a flower, cup, or marble. Peluso has 20 years of experience in functional glassmaking, operates a soft glass and flameworking studio in Elizabethtown, teaches glassblowing at his studio and instructs at the Art Center and Galleries and Brain Vessel Gallery, both in Mechanicsburg. His work is displayed in regional galleries and shops, and he regularly participates in art festivals and art shows.
  • Jewelry: Students will learn how to make a personalized sterling silver stamped pendant or bracelet with instructor Jessica Keemer. They will learn about studio safety, fabrication of metal, texturing techniques, and polishing/finishing techniques. Keemer, an award-winning studio artist based in Lancaster, received her BFA from Millersville University and also has a degree in Art Education and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Systems Management. She regularly teaches jewelry and flameworking classes at the Guild while traveling for fine craft fair shows all around the country.
  • Stamped Leather: Students will explore surface design on leather as well as basic leather-working skills while designing and fabricating three double- or single-wrap leather bracelets with instructor Lisa Ditty. After years in the fashion business designing for Tommy Hilfiger, J.Crew, and Lands End, Ditty works in her Middletown studio and travels to fine craft fairs around the country to sell handmade leather accessories, jewelry, and handbags.
  • Pysanky eggs: Instructor Bob Antonishak and his family have been creating Pysanky eggs for 30 years, sharing experience and knowledge about this Ukrainian and Eastern European folk art. Pysanky designs are created using a “kiska” to apply melting wax on the egg in a sequential series of patterns and dyes. 

CCE’s Lascek sees the campers’ age range, from 5th to 9th grade, as a built-in advantage for the young artists. 

“This segment of ages is kind of great to pull together,” she says. “Grades 5-6 students are usually in a place where they still aren’t overthinking the media or end result and they focus more on the evolution of the process and letting their imaginations go. Grades 7-9 students tend to focus on the content, what they are trying to say, and they sometimes worry about their current skill level and how that might impact the final product so they DO tend to over analyze what they are doing. 

“Paired together, the younger students can model what it means to loosen up and take it step by step, and the older students model what it means to practice skills and how to stop, self-critique, and change course if something isn’t going as planned.”

And, she adds, everyone on board with the camp is excited to see what evolves. 

“I think partnering with other arts organizations is so much fun!” she says. “It’s great to get to know members of our ‘art family’ and their programming. 

“And it’s really something to show younger artists the power and potential in choosing a creative life. There are so many future opportunities for them if this is what fuels their fire!”