Upstairs in the Ohio Craft Museum’s exhibition area, a serene atmosphere awaits those who come to view the arts and crafts on display there.

In contrast, during summer weekdays, the classroom space downstairs in the museum’s building at 1665 W. Fifth Ave. near Grandview Heights is full of activity, with youngsters talking, laughing and even singing as they work on their own creative projects.

The museum again is offering its Young Masters Summer Day Camp program, a series of weeklong camps that gives students in grades 1-6 a chance to explore creativity through crafts.

“The camps give kids an opportunity to do art on a more heightened level,” said Phyllis Walla-Catania, education coordinator for the museum. “They have more time than they may have in school, if they are able to take art class at all, to do an in-depth dive into art, working on projects that may take two or three days or the entire week to finish.”

The museum’s day camps – popular enough to require waiting lists -- are designed to invite students to explore their creativity and learn how to use and apply it to life, Walla-Catania said.

“Creative thinking is important to helping you with critical thinking and problem solving,” she said. “Whether a child grows up to be an artist, an engineer or a nurse, they will be thinking creatively. You can’t think critically without thinking creatively.”

The art camps give youngsters “an alternative to the instant gratification of watching TV or playing video games during the summer,” Walla-Catania said. “They’re recognizing a different skill set by taking the time to work on complex projects they create themselves.”

Students may sign up for full-day sessions at the camp, or participate for half-days in either the morning or afternoon.

“We have 24 slots in both the morning and evening, and most of the students are here for the whole day,” Walla-Catania said.

The camp held during the week of June 24 focused on fiber art.

Students explored and created projects in a variety of fiber-art forms, including weaving, felting and quilting.

The sessions were led by Sarah Rough, an elementary school art teacher with Columbus City Schools, and Mackenzie Johnston-Green, who teaches art at Elgin High School in Marion.

“Fiber art can be addictive for children,” Rough said. “I think they enjoy the textural nature of working with the materials. It’s valuable for them because they are working on their fine motor skills and learning perseverance.

“Fiber art isn’t something you do all at one sitting. They can work on a project for a while, put it down and come back to it, so they really stay interested.”

The weeklong camps give the instructors the time to engage the young students in “upper-level” projects, Johnston-Green said.

“We’re working on the type of projects I would expect to do with my high school students at school,” she said.

An example was the wet-felting project campers were working on during the fiber-art camp.

“Wet felting is a way to make wool into felt,” she said. “You take wool and apply warm and soapy water to fuse the fibers together into a single piece of fabric.

“This isn’t something they would be able to work on in an art class at school. I’m going to be able to apply some of the things we’re doing in the camp and use it in my classes at the high school.”

Anastasia Palmer, 6, a second-grader from Columbus, said she enjoyed the fiber-art camp.

“I like how we’re able to make things using other things you didn’t expect you would use,” she said. “I made a rug out of T-shirts, which I couldn’t imagine. At first, I was a little nervous, but then the teacher helped me, and by the second day, I knew what I was doing. It was really fun.”

Anastasia said she has an idea of how to make practical use of the rug she made.

“I have a really old dog, and my mom said that when he gets too old to move around much, we might be able to get a cat,” she said. “When we get a cat, I’ll use my rug for its bed. It will be really comfortable for her to lay on.”

Edie Ours, 6, attended the Young Masters camps for the second year.

“It’s really fun. I like getting to try all kinds of different projects,” she said. “Fiber art is fun because you get to use all kinds of materials.”

It’s fun to make art, Edie said, but the best part always comes at the end of the camp.

“That’s when we get to have an art show and we can show what we made,” she said.

Parents, family and friends are invited to attend a 15-minute art show held on Fridays during each camp week, Walla-Catania said.

The museum will hold two more art camps this summer.

Students will turn recycled materials into art during the Recyclart camp July 15 to 19; they’ll create miniature scenes, art and environments in the last camp July 29 through Aug. 5.

As of June 28, only a few afternoon slots remained open for the Recyclart camp.

Half-day camps cost $110.

For more information or to register, go to ohiocraft.org or call 614-486-4402.

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