Work out your creative side

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Diane Davis opened the Steamboat Arts and Crafts Gym, 1280 13th St., to provide space for artists to produce their works. Classes and workshops will also be taught.

— Finding a place to create works of art in Steamboat Springs can be a challenge.

That was Diane Davis' thinking in opening the Steamboat Arts and Crafts Gym. The gym is an unusual business idea that emerged from Davis' experiences as an artist.

The business opened last month.

"You can come in here, set up your space and do your own thing," said Davis, who has lived in Steamboat for almost 30 years and raised two children. "It's based on the concept of people not having enough space for projects, and not having to put your stuff away when it's time for dinner."

It is like an athletic gym - memberships are available by the day, by the month and by the year.

In addition to a providing a place for people to work on their projects, the gym also offers arts and crafts classes, seminars and workshops taught by Davis and local artists.

There is a retail component.

"You can get your materials at the class," Davis said. "You don't have to search Steamboat for them."

Steamboat Springs resident Kathleen Crislip was using one of the studios last week to create her Christmas cards.

"I think it's a great idea," Crislip said. "Space and materials are what she has going on here that I don't have at my house."

Davis' goal in the next three months is to get as many classes started as possible. This weekend, for example, a creative calendar class is being taught in addition to jewelry and Christmas card classes. A free class - excluding materials - is being held Saturday for making Christmas wreaths. People also can wrap Christmas presents for $1 each.

Quilting, scrapbooking, flower arranging, painting and even soap-making classes will be offered.

The gym is in a large warehouse at 1280 13th St. next to B&K Distributing. Jonathan Kaplan's Ceramics Design Studio was formerly in the space. Davis inherited Kaplan's kiln, along with layers of clay that had to be scraped from the walls before Davis repainted the building.

Davis worked closely with the Colorado Mountain College Small Business Resource Center as well as SCORE volunteer Scott Ford to get the art gym going. The CMC Small Business Resource Center holds a monthly business start-up seminar.

Her inspiration came largely after Davis, who for the past 10 years has been telecommuting for an insurance firm, found her "inner artist" during a painting class at the college.

She then began reading books by Julia Cameron such as "The Artist Way" and "Inspirations."

Davis then was able to attend one of Cameron's workshops, and it was after that, that she began to take the art gym concept seriously.

"I just kept having this feeling like I had to do this," Davis said.

-To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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