The best tools you’ll ever have are your own two hands. The trick is learning to use them.
Many of us are awestruck by the finish carpenter who measures and matches molding with superhuman precision. We salute the plumber who keeps our homes afloat after a pipe bursts. We toast the seamstress who stitches curtains with perfect goblet pleats. How, pray tell, do they do it?
The truth is those artisans weren’t born with their skills. They learned them, step by step, then practiced, practiced, practiced until they got really good at their jobs—just as you did when you mastered accounting or roasting a turkey or putting on eyeliner.
You can’t head back to shop class, but it’s never too late to learn the basics of maintaining, repairing and improving your homes and gardens. There are lots of hands-on places—some of them unexpected—where would-be do-it-yourselfers can cultivate their skills, as well as a sense of satisfaction. Here are a few places to help you get started:
Page 2: You Can Do It | Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program
Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program
Ready, set, faux. In the ultimate hands-on classroom, the Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program assembles top teachers and artisans from the Americas and Europe who work closely with students to design and beautify a public space using such painting techniques as glazing, marbling, Venetian plaster and wood graining.
Students train on sample boards, perfecting techniques they can use at home. After they develop a skilled hand, they work with instructors on walls, ceilings and columns. Projects have included St. Cornelius Catholic Church in Chadds Ford and New Orleans City Park. Students pay a small fee.
106 Sean Drive, Kennett Square, Pa., 610-368-3899, www.dpap.org
Page 3: You Can Do It | Delaware Center for Horticulture
Delaware Center for Horticulture
Creativity blooms year-round at this nonprofit community resource, known for its advocacy of native plants and its Wilmington City Garden Contest, now in its 26th year. At hands-on workshops, folks can learn such skills as building wooden garden chairs and fashioning wreaths from cut greens and dried flowers. Members get a discount on courses and workshops. Registration is required.
1810 N. Dupont St., Wilmington, 658-6262, www.dehort.org
Page 4: You Can Do It | Delaware College of Art and Design
Delaware College of Art and Design
In residential design class, students learn to design and draw rooms based on the physical, psychological and social needs of the people who live there. Students develop a project from the planning stages to finished floor plans. Other courses school budding interior designers on lighting, choosing colors and materials, textiles, small murals and how to draw designs using computer-aided drafting technology. Courses range from six to 12 sessions. Fees start at $280.
600 N. Market St., Wilmington, 622-8000, www.dcad.edu
Page 5: You Can Do It | Delaware Technical & Community College
Delaware Technical & Community College
During a home repair class designed specifically for them, women can master such domestic skills as installing a toilet and replacement windows. It’s taught by a licensed contractor who is, of course, a female. Participants won’t learn how to build a house from the ground up, but they will feel a lot more comfortable tackling common fix-it chores at home. The fee for a series of three two-hour sessions is $89.
400 Stanton-Christina Road, Stanton, 454-3956, www.dtcc.edu
Page 6: You Can Do It | The Home Depot
The Home Depot
Regular workshops tackle popular topics such as laying laminate flooring, weatherproofing windows and setting tile. There also are monthly designated Do-It-Herself workshops and learning and safety sessions for children ages 5-12. Check stores for weekly workshops.
Various locations, www.homedepot.com
Page 7: You Can Do It | Longwood Gardens
Home landscape designers can learn how to stand up to Mother Nature by building walls, paths, trellises and other garden features that will weather the elements. You can give Mother Nature a hug, too. Workshops and lectures at the iconic public garden also offer instruction on dividing plants, arranging flowers, designing your own garden landscapes and other topics. Members get discounts on fees.
U.S. 1, Kennett Square, Pa., 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org
Page 8: You Can Do It | Lowe’s Home Improvement
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Learn about home safety at in-store workshops. For youngsters there are Build and Grow kid’s clinics on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Kids go home with wooden toys and other items they make. There is no charge for clinics.
Various locations, www.lowes.com
Page 9: You Can Do It | Rehoboth Art League
Rehoboth Art League
Do-it-yourselfers with an artistic bent can create their own oil paintings and watercolors through classes targeted at students with various degrees of expertise. Patrons of the decorative arts also can adorn their homes with such projects as painted floor cloths, pottery, baskets and art glass. Members receive a $15 discount.
12 Dodds Lane, Henlopen Acres, 227-8408, www.rehobothartleague.org
Page 10: You Can Do It | Stony Brook Sew & Vac
Stony Brook Sew & Vac
Remember home economics class? Here, nobody has to stay after school—unless you want to linger and learn more from the pros. Sewers can learn to whip up drapes, linens, table runners and pillows. They can also learn embroidery techniques and other domestic arts. Call for registration and fees.
Christiana Town Center, Newark, 368-9887; 2900 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-1445, www.stonybrooksew.com
Page 11: You Can Do It | Woodcraft
This mecca for hobbyists offers supplies, equipment, safety tips and an experienced staff that can turn beginners into experts. Classes range from installing crown molding and making a small box to turning spindles to such advanced projects as crafting your own cabinets. Class sizes are limited. Fees cover most materials.
166 S. Dupont Hwy., Suite H, New Castle, 323-0400, www.woodcraft.com