Forest Hills Studio Aims to Craft Families' Interest in Art

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on December 25, 2012 10:43am 

QUEENS — “Every child is an artist,” Pablo Picasso once said. “The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

That sentence inspired the founder of a new Forest Hills arts and crafts studio, Oliloli, which will offer activities for both children and adults, including painting pottery, creating jewelry from fused glass and a parents night out.

“As a mom of two little kids, I’m always looking for activities to do with them,” said Sandra Mandell, 36, the owner of the studio and mother of 7-year-old Eva and 5-year-old Oliver. “And it’s hard to find a place where I can take my kids and enjoy myself as well.”

The studio, slated to open in January on 103-23 Metropolitan Ave., is named after her son's nickname.

Mandell, who previously worked for the Orphaned Starfish Foundation, said that she always wanted to open her own business and dreamt about an arts and crafts studio, even though she is not a trained artist. But she said she plans to work with local artists who would teach workshops.

“I love to sit down with my kids and create something together,” she said. “It’s a time for us to connect.”

Planned activities include “Paint your own Pottery,” where participants will select from a variety of pre-fired pieces of pottery, including mugs, bowls or figurines, and paint them.

Oliloli will also offer glass fusing, allowing participants to create various shapes out of colored glass, including ornaments, tiles and bowls.

Mandell said the studio aims to respond to the needs of a growing population of young families with children in the neighborhood.

“Forest Hills is full of families,” said Mandell, who has lived in the area since 2000.  “The school system is phenomenal and that’s what draws a lot of families into the neighborhood.”

She said many times, when trying to find interesting family activities, she had to take her kids to Astoria or Long Island. Her studio will give local families another, more accessible option, she said.

“My vision for Oliloli is for it to be a community space,” she said, adding that participants will work at communal tables made of recycled wood.

Participants will also have an opportunity to learn how to make hand-stamped wrapping paper and jewelry, how to paint on canvas and build eco-friendly doll houses.

There will also be story time for kids and children will learn how to paint a ceramic character from the featured book. 

And for parents, Oliloli is planning to organize "parents nights out," which will give adults an opportunity to meet with friends and get creative, Mandell said.

Most of kids activities will be catered to children 5-year-old and older, because “they have the ability to sit down and concentrate on the project,” Mandell added.

Participants will be charged per project (on average $15 to $25) and there will be no studio fee, allowing people to stay as long as they want, Mandell said.

Oliloli is located at 103-23 Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills.

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