We have been open a little over a year now and "What IS Spark?" is a question I get a lot now as word that we are here has gotten out!

I made art at spark-purple.jpg
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Spark is the new pARTy place in Watkinsville!    Did you ever notice the word party has ART in it??  Ann Peden opened Spark in November 2017 with 18 years under her belt as a local gift shop and 15 years of doing art classes and birthday parties in a small (very very small!  but welcoming!) space tucked inside the store, Ann Peden, in Market Center.  Ann describes it as “being a potted plant in a pot too small” and finally getting the space to grow her art classes and parties with the addition of Spark.  When you walk into the classroom at Spark you immediately sense the creative energy and happiness in the spacious classroom.  Trays of beads and charms, carts of brightly colored paint, purple walls, and a kiln named “Harry” (as in Harry Potter) all contribute to the atmosphere.  At the end of 2018, we doubled in size again as the need was there to have more than one event going on at once.  Spark 1 has the fun vibe for kids, Spark Too is decorated for adults and girl’s night out events.  Both can comfortably seat 64!  

Named Spark to help both kids and adults find and nurture their creative Spark, the thinking is to create a place where friends and family come together to experience the fun of creating art together.  Yes, it’s about the art but it is also about the EXPERIENCE of making art.  A study was done where elementary school children were shown a piece of paper with a black dot and asked to describe everything it could be.  On average, that age child came up with 90-100 choices- a mosquito, a nose of a dog, an asteroid, etc.  Then they showed the same image to high school students.  The result?  They came up with an average of 6 things the dot could be!  What Ann takes from that is our creativity dwindles as we get older...unless we nurture it!  And that is what Spark is all about!  Every parent wants their child to do and experience rather than watch and be entertained- to DO things with their hands rather than screen time.  Ann commented, “At first I thought I would have a basket at the door for the kids to put their phones in, but quickly realized that wasn’t necessary- everyone is having so much fun that they forget about their phones!”

What is the secret to the magic?  All of our teachers share the same philosophy- Instead of everyone painting the same peacock or owl or making the same necklace or mug, everyone in the class creates their own unique piece of art, putting their own personal touch on it.  “Offer direction, instruction and materials (and lots of encouragement) but provide enough freedom to inspire creativity.”  Clearly the formula works!  The classes are full of fun, laughter and camaraderie.

“I named it Spark, not Sparkle, because I want to develop classes for boys as well, “ says Ann.  Wooden cut outs to paint include trucks and sharks and dinosaurs and superhero shields, we offer a Knight themed birthday party, and of course clay is fun for everyone.

“One Friday night I was driving home and saw teens hanging out in the Publix shopping center and realized there is very little for teens to do,” said Ann.  This was the epiphany to start more events at Spark where friends can come together, make art and enjoy making art.  In the works for 2019 with the addition of our second classroom space, Spark 2, are trivia nights, board game nights, karaoke and more Girl’s Night Out (perfectly fine to BYOB for the adults).  “One comment I hear all the time, “ says Ann “is- our community needs this!”  And that is exactly what the plan is for Spark- to make art accessible and to be a place to come together.  

Spark offers classes for kids, teens and adults- Art Classes, painting Wooden Cut Outs and Distressed Wood Signs, Wreath Making, Drawing Classes, Yoga and Art, Girl’s Night Out, After School Art Classes, Clay handbuilding classes and painting bisqueware, Summer Art Camps and Santa’s Workshops, and of course Birthday Parties (painting cut outs, canvas or distressed wood signs, jewelry making and clay). We also rent the space hourly if you want to plan your own event there.  Classes range from $15 to $45, rental is $50/hour, minimum 3 hour rentals.  To find out more, go to www.sparkatannpeden.com.  Or stop by for a quick tour!