As The Craftsman and Apprentice puts it “sapere aude” which means “dare to know.” There’s always a new skill to be learned and co-founders Jonathan Fessler and Delanie Holton-Fessler challenge you to embrace a new craft.
Living a life of creativity was Jonathan Fessler and Delanie Holton-Fessler’s main goal for their young boys. The husband-and-wife team wanted their kids to know the satisfaction of a job well done and inspire creativity in a hands-on space. From there, The Craftsman and Apprentice was born.
Voted “Best Place to Learn Your Craft” by Best of Westword 2015, The Craftsman and Apprentice is a local workshop on E. 22nd Avenue providing tools, classes and qualified instructors to inspire creation, work with your hands, and use your imagination.
“We need to work with our hands, be around one another and make real things,” Holton-Fessler says. “It is part of being a human.”
Behind the Name
Fessler, a master stonemason, and Holton-Fessler, an artist and former art teacher, created an inviting environment for Denverites both young and old to enjoy the many forms of making. The heritage inspired classes for adults include projects such as painting, woodworking and writing, to cooking, fire making and more, they have classes for every creator.
“I believe that we all learn best in a beautiful environment from people we like and trust,” Holton-Fessler says. “And we wanted to include children that were missing from the maker movement in Denver.” The owners sought to mimic the learning relationship between a craftsman and his apprentice between the teachers and children learning in their shop.
Teaching and Creating for Children
The workshop provides maker based classes for children starting around the age of two and up to 11. They provide a safe, judgment-free zone in their classes for the kids and encourage diverse creativity without pushing gender-specific activities.
Additionally, the projects provided always have some kind of choice or decision-making skill involved.
“Kids are encouraged to express themselves individually with subject or color,” Holton-Fessler says. “We work with the child to develop project concepts to reflect their own interests and aesthetics.”
In the workshop, kids are provided safety glasses and work gloves, and are taught safety check skills before using any tool. But Holton-Fessler doesn’t want the kids to feel intimidated.
“Throughout my ten years as an art teacher, I noticed that fear of failure was so strong for some children that they wouldn’t even want to begin,” Holton-Fessler says.
To dissuade any fears, they start each class by talking about how failure is an option and tinkering with tools is okay.
Ultimately Holton-Fessler aims to teach how a craftsman has to practice through trial and error before finding success.
“I just love seeing a person light up from the inside when they finally made it,” Holton-Fessler says.
A Crafted Future For Denver
While Fessler and Holton-Fessler are working on classes aimed at teens, currently adults and children alike can enjoy the many classes The Craftsman and Apprentice offers. In the future, they hope to expand into a larger workshop with more room for crafting, messes, and loud tools, and convert their current shop into a space for their teachers to showcase their work and host local events.
1345 E. 22nd Avenue
Photography Michael Rainero
- Straight stick
- Arrowhead (or cardboard)
- Sinew (or twine)
- Rubber Band
- X-Acto Knife
- Paint Markers
*Easily find arrowhead and feathers at Orr’s Trading Co. Denver
1. Find a clean, straight stick and cut smooth notches on each end using the X-Acto knife. Adult supervision is needed for young children.
2. Fill notches with glue and slide the arrowhead in to secure. Don’t worry if the stick splits; it probably will.
3. Wrap a rubber band around the arrowhead for stability until the glue dries.
4. Using the X-Acto knife, under adult supervision, split the feathers down the middle so you have a total of three halved feathers. Hold the feathers at the end of the stick so they are just touching the notched end.
5. Tie the sinew (traditional), twine, string or embroidery floss onto the stick a few inches below the feathers. 6. Wrap the string around four or five times to secure the feathers.
7. Measure about a yard of string and tie it a few inches below the arrowhead.
8. Remove the rubber band when the glue dries and wrap the string up to the bottom of the arrowhead.
9. Finally, decorate! Use paint, paint markers or permanent markers to decorate the stick for an added flair.