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Tinker Tailor Solder Fry

These five DIY workshops will give you the tools to pursue your craftiest ambitions.

By April 2016Comments

Photograph by Steve Alcala

Design Build Adventure, Austin

Texans have always fancied themselves industrious do-it-yourselfers. Such dogged resourcefulness may well be an evolutionary remnant from the pioneers and vaqueros who settled all this land. Just consider a few of the world-changing inventions dreamed up within our state lines: the chuck wagon (Palo Pinto County, 1866), the Hughes drill bit (Houston, 1933), Liquid Paper (Dallas, 1951), the frozen margarita machine (Dallas, 1971), and the taco cannon (Austin, 2012). Luckily, for those with the tinkering gene, there’s a smattering of workshops and seminars around the state that’ll help you stretch your skills and perhaps devise some newfangled contraption of your own.

Austin master craftsman Jack Sanders nurtures DIYers via his Design Build Adventure camps, single- and multi-day “learning vacations.” Want to learn basic metalworking and meditation techniques? Try the Yoga and Welding Camp, which will lead you through vinyasa poses and pipe-cutting exercises. Longing to wield power tools? Consider this month’s Heavy Metal Camp, a no-experience-necessary gathering that’ll teach you how to survey, sketch, and fabricate gizmos from scrap materials. Billed as a mash-up of creativity and camaraderie—you’ll gather for campfire concerts each night—it doesn’t sound all that different from Charlie Goodnight’s approach back when he was inventing that chuck wagon. designbuildadventure.com

Quilting Adventures, Hill Country

Started by Debby Walters and Kim Buchmann, a mother-daughter duo from New Braunfels, this quilters’ collective hosts a blowout seminar featuring nationally known stitchers every March, as well as specialty tutorials year-round. In April, Susan Carlson, known for her fabric collages of all manner of animals, will school “confident beginners and up” on her layering method during a six-day retreat in Schulenburg, which includes accommodations at a local lodge. quilting-adventures.com

Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio

Don your very own chef’s whites (complete with towering toque), and get to chopping, frying, and flambéing under the expert eye of the culinary professionals. The two- to five-day courses tackle everything from French cuisine and comfort foods to sous-vide techniques and the science of cookery (what does make a soufflé rise?). Each day ends with a group meal and—good news—you’ll leave the dishes to someone else. ciachef.edu/texas

Pinspired, Lubbock

At this full-service DIY workshop, those “someday” ideas you’ve saved on Pinterest are brought to fruition today. Owner Shay Kindle will give you a hammer, nails, and all the know-how you need to reupholster that vintage chair you scored at a garage sale. Or she’ll hand you a brush and some chalk paint and show you how to spruce up your grandmother’s old dresser. If you’re already plenty crafty but just need the tools and space to make a mess, she’s got both in spades. getpinspired.com

Farley Boat Works, Port Aransas

It’s strictly BYOB—that is, “build your own boat”—at this sawdusty workshop, originally established in 1915 and reopened in 2011. This month, an intensive ten-day class will teach you how to build an outboard skiff just like the ones late founder Fred Farley used to craft. You can also take on a custom project at your own pace. If you get to sanding now, perhaps you’ll be done in time for October’s plyWooden Boat Festival. portaransasmuseum.org

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