Green Living: 7 DIY experiences to gift your family and friends in Vancouver

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      If you’re feeling uneasy about the tonnes of material goods that are typically purchased, wrapped, and tossed this time of year, why not ditch the mall altogether and give the gift of an invaluable experience instead?

      From Middle Eastern– and Italian-inspired cooking classes to woodworking shops, there are plenty of DIY and skill-building sessions in Vancouver where your recipient can pick up a new craft, strengthen a hobby, or spend some good ol’ QT with the gift-giver should you also nab a seat for yourself.

      Ahead, we’ve rounded up our favourite DIY classes and workshops in the city, each with its own green twist. The best part is that spots may be reserved online, so you can complete your last-minute shopping in a snap.  


      Nourish Vancouver

      Adult cooking class at Nourish Vancouver

      Whether your recipient is in dire need of a culinary crash-course or simply interested in upping his or her gastronomic repertoire, a cooking class at Nourish Vancouver (3742 West 10th Avenue) can help.

      The organic, plant-based shop—which also operates eat-in and catering services—emphasizes social responsibility and environmental sustainability in its dishes, so you can expect the same from its workshops.

      For the New Year, Nourish will be offering a range of sessions focused on specific cuisines, such as the Middle Eastern–inspired Ottolenghi Effect, where attendees will cook up plates like garlic-roasted chicken and homemade hummus, and Hearty, Rustic, and Italian, which boasts a menu of gnocchi and Neapolitan-style pizza dough made from scratch.

      All classes are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, and run for two-and-a-half hours on various dates throughout 2017. Seats are $95 each and may be purchased online.


      Hide Ceramic Works

      Drop-in pottery class at HiDe ceramic works or JustPotters

      There’s a certain pride that comes with serving your guests—or devouring a personal-sized pizza—from a dish you’ve crafted using your bare hands, no matter how wonky it looks. (Plus, you get to answer any “where did you get that?” inquiries with a smug “I made it myself!”)

      Luckily, Vancouver has no shortage of talented ceramists and many are more than willing to share tricks of the trade. For those looking to get down and dirty with some clay, studios like HiDe ceramic works (2368 Alberta Street) and JustPotters (1803 East 1st Avenue) offer drop-in pottery classes where you can get acquainted with the art under the guidance of a well-trained professional.

      Sessions start at $35 and participants will leave with their own handmade ramen bowl, coffee mug, pasta plate, vase, or whatever else they can dream up. Reserve your spot on the calendars here or here.


      Collage Collage

      Sashiko stitching class at Collage Collage

      Knowing your way around a needle and thread isn’t just handy for unexpected wardrobe malfunctions; it’s also an effective way to prevent damaged clothing from prematurely hitting landfills.

      If your recipient failed to pick up the skill during high-school home-ec, sign him or her up for a sashiko stitching class at Mount Pleasant’s Collage Collage (3697 Main Street). Conducted by local textile designer Heather Young, the workshop will teach attendees the arts of boro and sashiko—two Japanese mending techniques—as well as quilting.  

      Students will walk away with a homemade pot-holder, plus knowledge of the running stitch and the patterns and repairs it can make. Participants are also welcome to bring in a piece of clothing that they can mend during the class.  

      The session takes place on February 25, 2017 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Seats are $90 each and may be reserved online.


      Homestead Junction

      Mead-making class at Homestead Junction

      Mead may best be associated with Old English lit and episodes of Game of Thrones, but the ancient beverage—also known as honey wine—has experienced a comeback in recent years.

      Send your favourite wine-o or wannabe sommelier to Homestead Junction (649 East Hastings Street), where he or she will learn how to make a batch of mead from start to finish. Led by local grape enthusiast Stuart Morris, the workshop provides those with zero wine-making experience the tools they need to get comfortable with the craft.

      Attendees will be able to reap the probiotic and antioxidant properties of locally sourced honey in the five palatable bottles they bring home.

      The class takes place on January 15, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Seats are $50 each and may be purchased online.


      The Good Oak

      Candle- and soap-making with the Good Oak

      Ditch the potentially harmful, mass-produced candles from the mall and learn how to make your own nontoxic, biodegradable soy-wax lights at home.

      Conducted by the founders of plant-based skincare line the Good Oak, each class walks guests through the steps in an all-natural candle-making process. Soap-making workshops are also offered, where students learn the ins and outs of the cold-process method and the advantages of organic ingredients like essential oils.

      Attendees finish each class with a homemade candle or bar of soap and knowledge of how to design their own recipes at home.

      Candle-making sessions are $25 a seat and soap-making is $60 a seat. Dates and locations will be announced in the New Year. Interested participants should email


      James Frystack

      DIY shop class session at the Wood Shop

      Environmentally minded names on your Nice list—or those in need of some sturdy, well-crafted home items—will be stoked to nab a seat in one of the Wood Shop’s (251 Southern Street) DIY shop class sessions.

      The local startup makes polished furnishings and décor pieces using salvaged wood sourced from across the city. During an eight-hour day, attendees will be able to construct their own reclaimed-wood table or storage trunk while learning how to work a drill, screw gun, belt sander, and more from the onsite carpenter.

      Upcycling and woodworking techniques will also be taught and all participants will finish with a furniture or décor product that fits their desired style and measurements. Completed objects may be brought home immediately following the class or delivered later that week.

      Classes start at $160 and take place on various dates throughout January and February 2017. Register here.


      Indigo dye class at Soigne Jewelry, Art & Crafts

      Explore the ancient art of indigo dying—a natural process that’s most commonly associated with denim colouring today—at East Vancouver’s Soigne Jewelry, Art & Crafts (393 Powell Street).

      Run by local artist and craftswoman Beata Kacy, the classes introduce participants to the techniques of itajime, folding, stitching, and wrapping, which produce one-of-a-kind patterns on various textiles. Students will work cotton napkins and an indigo vat to create their own blue-washed décor items to bring home.

      The workshops take place on January 12, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and January 29, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Seats are on promotion for $60 each and may be purchased online.

      Soigne also hosts a range of other DIY classes, including Skin Fitness, where attendees craft nourishing skin products using organic ingredients,and Feather Extravaganza, where you can make your own earrings or hair piece with natural, ethically sourced feathers.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.