Barbara Brown and Anne Real were on the long drive home from a quilting show last February when talk turned to a recurring idea: opening a spot to teach crafting arts.
The Spotsylvania County residents had known each other for nearly 20 years, having first met working part-time jobs when they both lived in Stafford County.
Though their circumstances changed a lot over the years—Brown became a teacher, Real operated a daycare from her home and moved away for a while—their shared passion for quilting, sewing, embroidery and other types of handcrafting was a constant that never changed.
“We decided to move ahead with opening our business, Inner Piece Studio, last February on that long trip back home,” said Brown. “But it took some time to figure out what classes we’d offer, our business plan and for me to make my final decision to retire from teaching.”
Brown and Real recently opened their craft-focused studio dedicated to teaching, birthday parties and “sewcials” in the Roswalt Business Park at 4528 Plank Road, Suite 104.
Brown, who taught for 17 years in Spotsylvania elementary and middle schools, said she learned many of her skills at home.
“My mother was in the first graduating class of the Fashion Institute of New York, so we learned at an early age to sew,” she said. “I would see Mom do something—sew, knit, crochet, embroider or crewel—and then I’d try to do it. I taught myself, but she’d tell me when I did something wrong.”
Real said she was mostly self-taught in various types of hand-sewing, quilting and hand-crafting she has mastered.
“Most of it I picked up on my own, though I did have a great aunt who taught me to use a sewing machine. Other crafts, if I look at something, I can pick it apart to see how to do it.”
Bringing their creative skills to bear, the two business partners initially will teach an array of classes for adults, children or parents and children together.
Adult classes, which make up the bulk of their offerings, include hand-piecing and quilting, wool applique, embroidery, applique, English paper piercing, wool arts, punch needle embroidery, wood painting, beginning machine sewing, beginning quilting, paper piecing, machine applique, sewing machine projects and utility hand sewing.
Most of those classes are set up for students to learn the craft as they make a project or keepsake they can take home at the end of one or a series of classes. Patrons might walk out with quilt pieces, floral pins, table runners, pillows, framed art, wall hangings or signs.
Their “Just for Kids” classes, or ones youngsters share with a parent, involve either reading books and then making a related craft, or focusing solely on crafts and embroidery.
Youngsters will leave those classes with crafts ranging from a painted whale, mini terrariums, glue-embossed paintings or a basic piece of embroidery.
“And to keep the classes different and interesting, we’ll be making different items each month,” said Real, noting that often what’s being made will have a tie to the month of the class or timely holidays.
Birthday parties are another focus at Inner Peace. Groups of children can get instruction in a two-hour craft or art project session in a party room.
The partners are operating the studio from Tuesday to Saturday, with classes scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., though they’re open to working with groups who might need different times or days for specific classes.
Prices for classes start at $15 and go up to $100, though most of the higher fees cover as many as four classes and the cost of provided materials.
Brown and Real said they are putting together some offerings for summer camps, with an eye for classes young people might enjoy.
The longtime friends said the name of the business, Inner Piece Studio, is slightly more serious than the pun might suggest.
“These skills and crafts are a good way to de-stress,” Brown said. “They help both children and adults with focus, concentration, critical thinking and self-regulating. And many of them are things you can bring with you and do while waiting in a doctor’s office, watching a child’s game or whatever.”
For more info and a list of available classes, visit innerpiecestudio.com.