Hammer & Stain is not your typical art studio. Sure, you’ll find painted signs displayed on the walls, sets of black aprons at the ready, and shelves full of paint and brushes – right alongside a pegboard full of tools and stacks of raw wood.
“It is more than just a paint night,” says owner AJ Bothun, who opened the Wickford space in April. AJ decided to start the workshop after taking a similar class and loving it, then reaching out to the Hammer & Stain founder about starting her own studio. She took a leap of faith, leaving her job at URI to enter the burgeoning guided-DIY scene as a small business owner.
A class at Hammer & Stain works like this. Beforehand, you pick your design, which includes the unfinished piece of wood and a stencil cut by AJ herself. It’s a pretty simple process, but requires a bit of elbow grease: sanding, staining, stenciling. You’ll be learning how to use electric sanders and nail guns. You’ll get to experiment with mixing stains and deciding which paint will go best – with guidance from AJ if desired, of course. In fact, we tried this one-of-a-kind craft night ourselves, and can attest you’ll emerge sawdust-covered but smiling, with a truly handmade piece of art for your wall that you constructed yourself.
“You actually learn about technique, style, knowledge of wood, and some small building techniques,” AJ elaborates. Beyond just the signs that are most popular at the studio, they also offer projects that incorporate metal, canvas, succulents, and a broad range of styles from modern and industrial to farmhouse and shabby chic. “Really, if we can build it, we will do it,” AJ proclaims. “We live and work in sawdust – and love it!”