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‘I had no clue what cream gel was, but walked away a big fan of the slimy stuff’

To an artist, a blank canvas represents a world of exciting opportunities. To a journalist with no art skills, it represents a problem.

Making something from scratch can be very intimidating to those who aren’t artistically inclined. What do you create when your imagination fails you? Where do you start when you have so many tools and colours at your disposal? If your easel could talk, would it whisper words of encouragement or stage a protest against your aimless paint splatters?

Thankfully, this was never an issue at Stefanie’s Art Studio, Canterbury’s first comprehensive art and handcraft workshop. Whether you enter as a novice or pro, you will leave with a smile.

Every corner of the studio is packed with charm.

The studio itself is fairly small, but the staff have made the most of the limited space. Each wall is packed with decorations, supplies, and showcased art pieces made within the studio. There is colour and glamour everywhere you look, making it feel as though you’re stepping into an artist’s dream haven.

There are a number of different activities available at the studio, but perhaps the most unique session lets customers play with cream gel. This is a coloured, glue-like substance that is used both to paint surfaces and stick on decorations.

Participants are given a menu of colours to decide which shade of cream gel they would like, and are then handed a tray that you can fill with trinkets and small figurines. These adornments are arranged by colour and displayed in clear drawers for customers to browse through and help themselves, a bit like how a “pick ‘n mix” selection of sweets is presented at a supermarket.

Even as an adult, there is a childlike joy in sifting through the various bits and pieces — these range from adorable animals and charming objects to Disney mascots and Japanese anime characters.

Part of the joy of the studio is poking through the vast range of decorations.

Once you have what you need, it’s time to don the apron and get cracking. What you create is up to you, but suggested ideas include phone cases, earphone cases, mirrors, pen holders and music boxes. I decided to get in touch with my feminine side and make a cutesy, Hello Kitty-themed tablet stand as a gift for a family member.

The cream gel comes in tubes that can be squirted onto whatever you’re working on. Due to its thick consistency, metal scalpel-like tools are used to spread the gel rather than paintbrushes. I began by spreading a thin layer on my plastic disc base to give it a pink finish, but you can also use the gel to produce cake-like icing patterns. This is easier than it may sound, and the staff will demonstrate simple techniques for you so you can make pretty swirls like its second nature.

Speaking of the staff, everyone at the studio was wonderful, polite and welcoming. They are very encouraging throughout the crafting process, giving beginners the confidence to pursue their artistic vision and, more importantly, have fun while doing it. They were also very helpful in offering advice and suggesting tools, while at the same time never being too hands-on in a way that would feel like an interference.

It may not be spectacular, but I’m quite pleased with the Hello Kitty iPad holder I made!

The final step is possibly the most fun: sticking on your selected decorations. Once you are satisfied, the studio holds onto your creation for a few days to bake and solidify it, and then contacts you when it is ready to pick up. How long the session will take will of course depend on you and how complex you want your creation to be. Prices vary depending on what item you choose to make, but all are very reasonable and are available on the studio’s website. There is a £10 deposit when you make your booking.

I walked into Stefanie’s Art Studio with no clue what cream gel even was, but walked away a big fan of the slimy stuff. As someone with very little experience with art, I was incredibly impressed and surprised by how much I enjoyed the entire experience.

There is a huge emphasis on freedom of choice at the studio. The cream gel session alone makes it worth a visit, but it’s also worth noting that there are many other interesting activities available including bracelet/necklace making, DIY bags, perler bead crafting, glue gel painting and moon lamp painting. The studio also plans to introduce new sessions including acrylic and sand painting, candle-making classes and another very unique activity known as fluid bear making.

The studio can be found at the Canterbury Innovation Centre.

Stefanie’s Art Studio is a place that people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy, and is an ideal day out for families, friend groups or curious individuals.

You can find it at the Canterbury Innovation Centre on University Road.