For the last four years, we’ve been working hard to make South Bend a more creative, more beautiful, more inspired city. And we try to help our community access their creative side through loads of one time classes, great for any beginner. Plus, we offer use of our makerspace and tools for anyone who needs a creative place to work on their own projects. It's a pretty cool deal.
Luckily, we’re not alone in our efforts to offer this town some creative options for getting out. We’re just one of several creative local businesses in the area who have been pouring out their blood, sweat, and tears for the artsy folk of South Bend.
And today, we’re sharing four of our favorites. If you haven’t visited these spots, make it your top priority!
1. The Pigeon & the Hen
I’ve lost track of the times that someone comes in or calls asking if we have premade pottery that they can come in and paint. But every time someone asks, we point them to the Pigeon & the Hen.
Located right in the heart of Downtown South Bend, this shop was opened in 2014 by two ceramics students who had only known each other for four months.
With a wide selection of premade ceramic pieces and glazes, this is a great place for anyone looking for a fun activity for the kids, a great group outing, or a date night.
Drop in anytime, or sign up for one of their classes.
2. Fire Arts
Back when we were still trying to learn more about business insurance, Fire Arts was well into their second decade of business.
In 2004, three local sculptors were looking for a place that could house a kiln, a foundry, and a gallery space for metalworking and ceramics. They found a building slated for demolition and pooled resources with several other artists to restore it and convert it into the studio they wanted.
Since then, Fire Arts has become an institution in the South Bend arts scene. They host regular workshops in jewelry making, metalworking, stone sculpting and more. But the main event is their rotating gallery exhibitions that showcase the best sculptors, glass workers, potters, and jewelry makers around.
The gallery is open every First Friday if you want to take a quick look around.
3. Martin’s School of Cooking
Here’s something you might not know about me: before I launched MAKE South Bend, there was a hot minute where I wanted to teach cooking classes for a living. And if you’ve taken my sushi class, you might believe it.
I’m the last person who would ever say that cooking isn’t an art. And if we had a commercial kitchen, I would probably offer a much more extensive offering of cooking classes.
But there’s already a great resource for would-be chefs in the area: your local neighborhood Martin’s!
For many of us in the South Bend area, Martin’s is our go-to grocery store. We already go to them for ingredients, so it makes sense that we’d go to them to learn how to use those ingredients.
Their School of Cooking is located in Heritage Square and has a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. They offer classes for kids, couples, and anyone looking to expand their skill set in the kitchen. Hmm...maybe I’ll send my husband there...he only knows how to make omelets (but they’re, like, really good omelets).
You can’t talk about creative businesses in South Bend without mentioning the granddaddy of them all: the South Bend Museum of Art.
The museum opened its doors all the way back in 1947. Since 1987, they have been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, which recognizes the highest level of professional standards in the field.
Besides its respectable permanent collection of local and regional art (including pieces from our friend, the late great Harold Zisla), the South Bend Museum of Art boasts a great series of special exhibitions, including local artist showcases, installations, and works by tattoo artists.
As if that weren’t enough, SBMART is also home to the Dot Shop, where you can buy work from local artists. If you’re inspired to start creating yourself, the museum offers a number of long-term classes in a variety of mediums.
Go Out and MAKE
Even through the city’s ups and downs, South Bend has long had a vibrant arts community. And while we’re doing everything we can to foster that community, we’re in some great company.
Go visit these businesses on Facebook to see what they’re up to, and expand your creative outlets. Just don’t go too far that you forget to come back to us.
While you’re here, why not take another look at our class calendar and start planning your next creative adventure?
As you probably already know, here at MAKE, we offer classes in a variety of mediums designed for people with absolutely no experience. It doesn’t matter if you have never cut glass or wielded a soldering iron before: in just a couple hours, you’ll have your very own, handmade stained-glass suncatcher.
But you might not also realize that the workshop is available to you any time we’re open—even without a membership!
A day pass gets you full access to the makerspace and all of the tools we have (the woodshop requires a Safety and Basic Use class first).
And I know better than most that if you don’t have a project in mind, staring into a shop filled with tools and materials can be pretty intimidating.
That’s why today, we’re giving you five projects that you can walk in and make with no experience, no special skills, and no class.
Have you never had much ability in the artistic sector? Do paintbrushes seem to jump wildly in your hand of their own accord?
Luckily, you don’t need to know your way around a palette to make beautiful coasters using alcohol ink.
Because rubbing alcohol has a different density than ink or paint, it causes brilliant patterns when they mix.
You just pick the colors and slowly pour it on the tile. The materials will mix at random. Spray it with a seal to lock in the design, add some felt feet to the bottom to use them as coasters, and voila! You’ve got a beautiful set of tiles that will impress your friends—or make a great gift!
Polymer Clay Creations
Who didn’t love Play-Doh as a kid? But unfortunately, it was never a great choice for preserving more detailed sculptures.
If you were a veritable Michelangelo with a can of Play-Doh, you’ll love polymer clay.
Polymer clay is much more flexible than conventional clay, which allows you to work with more detail with less effort. Polymer clay also comes in a variety of colors, so you don’t necessarily need to paint it afterward.
Also, polymer clay hardens in a toaster oven—like the one we have in the shop for that exact purpose. For examples of beautiful polymer clay jewelry or characters, visit Pinterest.
Comic Book Decoupage
Who doesn’t love superheros? It’s almost impossible to find a movie theater that isn’t playing a comic book movie.
And maybe you decided once that you were going to become a “real” fan, so you marched to the comic shop and started a collection.
Then you realized the unfortunate truth: comic books are expensive. You have to keep buying them if you want to know what’s going on. And when you’re buying 5-10 titles every month, that can add up. So now—if you’re anything like my husband Nat—you have a pile of old comic books sitting on your shelf, unread, unloved, and unappreciated.
But don’t let the art inside those comics go unappreciated. Use them to create beautiful decoupage.
Decoupage uses a specialized adhesive to bond paper cut outs onto an object. It could be a coffee table, a wall hanging, or wooden coasters. And using the art from these comic books, you can create cool collages that would enhance any TV room or man cave.
Don’t cut up your actual comic books though—use our color copier. Then you can sell the comics online for some extra cash. Follow the link for more about selling comics online.
Custom Stamped Statement Ring
A great ring can make a statement. Especially if the ring has that statement literally stamped into it.
It’s easy to make a simple, stamped statement ring like our famous Bad Mood Rings. You simply cut a thick metal wire to length, stamp whatever word you want to use, and bend it into shape using a ring mandrel. Make the perfect gift or just let the world know what you have to say.
You don’t have to limit yourself to rings though—our letter stamps can be used on most types of metal. Make keychains, metal cuffs, charms, or necklace pendants.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Painting
Few art forms are as universal and versatile as paint and a canvas.
From the dramatic scenes of Caravaggio to the surrealistic portraits of Frida Kahlo to the chaotic abstracts of Jackson Pollock, painting can be whatever you want it to be.
And according to a 2016 study, painting can greatly reduce stress—even if you’re not very good.
Whether you want to practice your portraiture, do your best Bob Ross impression, or just conjure emotional responses from shapes, we have everything you need here at the shop.
Bring your own canvas or buy one from us. We have brushes, palettes, paints, easels, and more.
What Will You Make?
All this and more is available to you when you purchase a day pass. Stop in for an afternoon and try your hand at any one of these projects. If you get stuck, someone will be around the shop that can help.
Since there’s no obligation to keep at it, this is a great way to try something new. If you hate it, you can just move on to something else.
But if you love it, maybe you could upgrade that day pass to a monthly membership.
It’s so crazy to think that this month marks the start of our fifth year in business. It feels like only yesterday, we got the keys to the building and started working on renovations. Since then, we’ve had nearly 1,500 classes, had around a hundred local makers sell goods through our shop, hosted dozens of makers markets, and even thrown our own arts and music festival—three times!
But we’re not gonna slow down now. And as we enter our fifth year, there are a number of ways you can join us too.
Here are five ways you can join us in year five!
1. Shop Local T-Shirts
If you’ve been into our shop, you know that we have a great selection of goods you can buy to support local makers or show off your South Bend pride.
With our t-shirts, you can do both. We have a brand new batch of our logo tees, as well as our ever-popular South Bend Skyline design. Each design is only $20—a small price for such stylish, comfortable apparel.
These shirts are only available in the store, so why not stop by during our Anniversary Open House Saturday, February 16th from 6-8pm?
2. Day Pass Pack
Our day passes are already a great value—$10 gets you a full day of access to all of the tools that our shop has to offer.
But that deal gets even sweeter with the Day Pass Pack. For $50, you get six day passes that you can use any time throughout the next twelve months (we can hold onto the punch card for you, so you don’t have to worry about losing it).
And during that year, you also get 10% off whatever classes you want to take!
3. Big Day Pass Pack
If the Day Pass Pack isn’t enough for you, you can also get the Big Day Pass Pack. For $100, you get twelve day passes.
Like the Day Pass Pack, the Big Day Pass Pack is valid for twelve months, but it also gives you 15% off classes, plus an additional 10% off all merchandise in our shop!
4. Sponsor Us
At MAKE SOUTH BEND, we believe that access to tools and art education is essential to fostering creativity within our community. But we can’t achieve that goal on our own.
If you’re part of a business and would like to partner with us in that mission, there are a number of ways you can do so. From being named on our sponsor wall to being displayed on banners at large events to being listed as a sponsor in bimonthly e-newsletter. You can also give your employees a 15% discount on classes.
Sponsorships are open to businesses or individuals and start at $250. For more information, visit our sponsorship page.
5. Become a Member
One of the best ways to join in what we’re doing at MAKE is to become a member. There is a variety of membership levels, but the most popular is our Gold Membership, which gives you unlimited access during our open hours (Tuesday-Saturday, 12-8pm).
And that’s not all—our Gold Members also enjoy 15% of all classes, access to our dedicated Member storage, and four guest passes a month. Gold Membership is $50 a month or $35 for students and seniors.
But, if you purchase a year membership, it’s only $420—that’s a 30% discount! Students and seniors only pay $290.
If that’s not enough for you, look into our Platinum Membership. It has all the great benefits that come with a Gold Membership, plus 24/7 access. Standard monthly rates start at just $85 a month, and have added discounts when you pay for 3 months, 6 months, or a year.
How Will You Join Us?
Big things are coming in year five, and with these opportunities, you can join us to help “MAKE” our fifth year the best year yet.
What will you make?