Gather, Give Back, & Create (at the Charity Wings Art Center)

Recently a friend of mine began volunteering at the Charity Wings Art Center in San Marcos, CA (just north of San Diego).  As soon as she explained the concept I made visiting a priority.  

Before I go any further I want to give you a little background on the center.  According to their website:

The Charity Wings Art & Craft Center hosts free classes and events for their beneficiaries on site... providing the hope and healing that only art can provide.  Serving as a hub for the arts and crafts community,  Charity Wings Art & Craft Center memberships support non-profit programs as well as give members access to open studio time, classes, events and opportunities to give.

In addition to classes, the center also has Open Studio Time when you can go in and use their space and their supplies.  This is what really appealed to me:

During open studio you are welcome to use all available supplies and tools in the Art Centers. You are also welcome to bring in your own projects and use all of our supplies and tools to finish your project.
We have tools and supplies for:
  • sewing
  • fiber arts
  • polymer clay
  • jewelry / beading / metal
  • scrapbooking
  • mixed media arts
There are no additional fees to use all of our supplies and tools. You simply pay the hourly open studio fees accordingly.   Click here for more information about memberships/fees.  
Guys, this is a 6,000 square foot warehouse filled with every supply you can imagine AND enough space to execute any project.  How many times have you seen a project on Pinterest and dismissed it out of hand because you didn't have the equipment/supplies or the space?  How many times have you gone to Michael's (or Hobby Lobby or Joanne's) and spent a fortune on materials that you might never use again.  
Access to a place like this will eliminate such problems.  Just look at this space: tons of room to work, craft supplies galore, and inspiration everywhere you turn.

Supplies on these shelves are organized loosely by color.  

Here are some closeups.  (Please ignore the glare in these photos.  Without my tripod I had to shoot in automatic.  Shooting in automatic meant using my flash.  Using my flash meant glare.  And now I am hanging my head in shame.  ;)


In addition to the embellishments you see above, there are also colored pencils galore. 

Paint in every color of the rainbow.


Pipe cleaners.

Every type of adhesive imaginable.  (Think about that: no buying a whole tube of adhesive for one little craft.  Browse this shelf for exactly what you need in the exact amount that you need.  And with a membership, the open studio time costs less than a container of Modge Podge.)

This flat file holds rubber stamps. 

About a jillion of them.

I'm not exaggerating.

Look at all of those beads.  

Organized by color.  

Not to be crass but it's like a crafter's wet dream in here.  

And the only thing better than looking at the supplies is browsing what other people have done with them. 

For the knitters and crocheters there is yarn.  (And lots of comfy couches on which you can sit and knit.)

There's also a whole sewing area.

With patterns.  (Of course, as with everything else, you're also free to bring your own.)

There are a bunch of sewing machines under those drop cloths.  (I didn't peek because sewing machines frighten and confuse me.)

If you like to work with metal there's this area...

You also have access to a Cricut, which is great for making stickers and stencils. 

Still unclear on why you might need an electronic paper cutter?  Here are just a few projects from my blog that require a Cricut (or a Silhouette):

For the little ones there is a fantastic kid's area.

They even hold Mommy & Me-type classes where the children learn to do fun projects like this:

Everywhere you turn in the center, you find inspiration.

Sometimes it's in the form of signage:

Other times it's in the unexpected details.

And frequently it is the work of others that inspires, like this dress made from book pages. 

Or this blinged-out Hello Kitty bike.

Naturally wing-themed projects abound.

I loved this collaborative piece covered in paper feathers. 

When I was there we made resin-filled bottle cap charms.  

A good time was had by all.

If you are local to San Diego I urge you to check out this little slice of heaven.  Even if you don't want to buy a full membership, you can still do individual sessions.

If you're not local to San Diego, click on this LINK for a list of similar places around the globe.  And please, if you go to Charity Wings (or any place like it), please leave me a comment and let me know.  I would love to hear about your experience!



  1. Wow. This place not only sounds amazing but looks amazing. What a fun and inspiring place. I'll have to see if there's anything like that close to me. I'd have so much fun!

  2. My girls would go nuts for the Hello Kitty bike!

  3. This place sounds amazing, cant wait to check it out.


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