On a recent Sunday, a group of a dozen or so women congregated at the beautifully charming Bayberry Inn on Kay Street for an afternoon of refined crafting, punctuated with prosecco and tea. Hosted by Kristen Coates, artist and owner of her eponymous gallery on Thames Street, the event was a pleasant and creative way to spend a chilly afternoon.
Let it be known that I am no crafter and even less so an artist, but Kristen’s confident teachings and simple, clear instructions made me feel like I could tackle any project she threw my way. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a paint brush to get creative instead of spruce up a door or wall, but as I painted my seascape onto driftwood under Kristen’s tutelage, not only did I have fun, I felt a meditative state of tranquility come over me. This was good, clean – and productive – fun.
The gorgeous setting didn’t hurt the mood. Our studio for the day was the bright, sunny dining room of the Bayberry Inn, which was recently renovated in gorgeous blues, whites, and corals throughout. A tour of the 1837 former captain’s home, which has seven guest rooms, yielded breathtaking gasps from the crafters; I think we all wished we could live there. With it’s calm, coastal-chic decor and boutique hotel demeanor, this is definitely a place to recommend to visiting guests.
While waiting for our tiny seascapes to dry, Rebecca Kelly, a native Newporter who’s recently returned to Rhode Island from New York City where she taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, handed out materials for the second act of our day, building a dreamcatcher. Inspired by the look of birch trees in winter, Rebecca, a textile expert now teaching at URI, had gathered grey, beige, cream, and flecked yarns for us to loop around brass hoops, then decorate with fluffy feathers, wooden beads, and grapevine. The act was soothing and serene, and Rebecca’s easy way with instruction was itself a calming factor.
Uplifted by the sunny space and warm company, I left with a feeling of crafty satisfaction, and two new pieces of art in hand.
Kristen Coates hosts frequent events both in and out of her gallery on Thames Street. Check her calendar for happenings.