Cumming Nature Center > Programs & Events

Workshops at CNC

Escape to the woods and use your hands to create, cultivate, or learn something new during our 2024 workshop series.

  • Cumming Nature Center
  • Ongoing

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Explore new skills from bird carving to plein air painting to canning vegetables in a workshop at Cumming Nature Center!

Our workshops are designed to create a supportive space for talented teachers and craftspeople to share their knowledge through fellowship and intensive instruction. Classes are relaxed, informative, and recognize the value in heritage skills and place-based knowledge. Past workshops have included spoon carving, native gardening blacksmithing, food preservation, pysanky, and more.

Leave your screen behind, escape to the woods, and use your hands to create, cultivate, or learn something new this year!

Bird carving | BLACKSMITHING | plein air painting | FOod preservation | Weaving


Bird carving CLASSEs

April 20 & 21 | Carving an American Robin

9:30am – 4:00pm (both days)
$120

Join us for a relaxing weekend of creativity and craftsmanship at the Cumming Nature Center. Participants will carve and paint a life-size American Robin in an antique smoothie style. A familiar bird native to much of U.S. and Canada, the American Robin has been considered by many to be the harbinger of Spring. It is frequently seen around yards and neighborhoods in the trees, bushes and on the ground searching for worms. 

All tools and materials will be provided including wood, paint, wire for legs, and glass eyes as well as knives and paint brushes. This class is suitable for beginner and more experienced carvers. Students are welcome to bring their own carving knives if preferred.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Robin Salsbury wanted to be a wood carver at a young age and made a few carvings while in high school. An opportunity to take a class at RMSC carving a shorebird gave him the chance to finally explore this art form. Since then he has taken numerous classes from some of the foremost carvers throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has also competed at carving shows across the U.S. and Canada winning numerous ribbons, including a best of show at the Genesee Valley Woodcarvers Show.

For over 20 years Robin has carved numerous birds, generally preferring native species. His repertoire includes ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds, and even a life-size Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.  He started teaching bird carving classes through W. Irondequoit’s Continuing Education Program around the year 2000 as well as several classes with the Woodcarving Club.


BLACKSMITHING CLASSES

April 20, May 4 & May 11 | Intro, Basic, Intermediate & advanced

Times vary
$65-$90

**New class offerings Spring 2024!**

Join instructor Jonathan Bernard to learn the art of blacksmithing in small-group, hands-on training sessions at Cumming Nature Center. Classes for all skill levels will be offered, ranging from Intro to Blacksmithing to Advanced Knife-Making courses. Each participant will go home with an object they created during the class.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Jonathan Bernard began blacksmithing at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, MA where he volunteered from 2000-2013 in their Colonial-era smithing shop. In 2012 Jonathan purchased a portable forge and farrier’s anvil, and began demonstrating at school programs as part of the 9th Mass Light Artillery, a Civil War reenactment unit. In 2014 he moved to the Rochester, New York, area and currently works with school groups as part of the 1st NY Light Artillery Civil War reenactment unit. For the past three years he’s been invited by the Gettysburg National Parks service to the Spangler Farm site for presentation of his craft with the unit’s traveling forge wagon.  Jonathan takes great joy in teaching blacksmithing to people of all ages and skill levels to ensure that the craft lives on.


FOOD PRESERVATION CLASSES

April 27 & May 18 | CANNING for beginners

9am-12pm
$15

Are you interested in canning but don’t know where to start? This is the workshop for you!  Learn the difference between boiling water bath canning and pressure canning, see the tools used for canning, learn about the process of preparing a jar for the canner and see many examples of canned goods. 

In this hands-on program, participants will prepare a jar of vegetables and process it in a pressure canner. Each participant will take home their jar of vegetables. This program is taught by Barb Brenner, Cornell Cooperative Extension certified Master Food Preserver.

April 27 | dehydrating Food 101

1pm-3pm
$15

Dehydrated foods make delicious snacks and are a great way to preserve your garden’s harvest! Vegetables such as swiss chard, onion and tomatoes can be dried and used year round. Dried fruit slices make great snacks, and you can make your own fruit leathers from pureed fruit mixtures. Dried herbs will spice up your recipes and homemade garlic powder is to die for! Beef can be dried into jerky or ground and dried for use in meals on a backpacking trip.

In this workshop, participants will explore how to dry various foods and sample many products dried by the instructor. Each participant will take home a tray of dehydrated fruit pieces, veggies and fruit leather prepared by the instructor. This program is taught by Barb Brenner, Cornell Cooperative Extension certified Master Food Preserver.

May 18 | INtro to fermenting vegetables

1pm-3pm
$15

This hands-on workshop will teach you how to ferment vegetables.  We will learn why a recipe will sometime instruct you to mix salt into the vegetables and other times will specify pouring salty water over the veggies.  We will then prepare jars of vegetable ferments for you to take home, ferment and enjoy. 

To get started in fermentation, sauerkraut is the perfect product to make, so we will prepare a jar containing cabbage to ferment into sauerkraut.  During the class, we will also prepare a second jar of veggies, the contents of which will be decided as the class time approaches. 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Food preservation has been a part of Barb Brenner’s entire life: from helping her Mom can and freeze, to 4-H activities as a teen, to preserving her own garden harvest as an adult, to teaching food preservation classes for the NYS DEC’s “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” workshop and other local workshops.

Barb has earned Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Food Preserver Certification through Livingston County and she is passionate about food preservation and sharing techniques, tips and samples. Her daily meals are made from the contents of canning jars, freezer containers or vacuum sealed bags/jars. Fruits, vegetables and herbs are dehydrated for storage or for camping trips. Cabbage and cucumber pickles ferment in crocks and fruits harvested from her property are turned into juice. She lives in Lima, NY and has a food preservation informational and demonstration booth at the Lima’s Farmers’ Market.

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PLEIN AIR PAINTING CLASSEs

July 21 | PAINTING in the Pines

9:30am – 12:30pm
$35

Get outside and paint beneath the majestic red pines of the Cumming Nature Center this summer! This plein air painting class will cover the basic tools and techniques needed to paint outdoors, including how to set up a palette and choose a subject. Beginner painters will have the option to use a pre-sketched canvas as the foundation for their painting. After a short demonstration, participants will enjoy one-on-one instruction and interaction with instructor Victoria Brzustowicz as they work at their own pace.

This class is suitable for beginner and more experienced artists. All tools and materials will be provided.

september 15 | PAINTING BY THE POND

9:30am – 12:30pm
$35

Join us for a relaxing and creative morning outdoors as we paint a quiet pond set beneath the changing leaves of Cumming Nature Center. This plein air painting class will cover the basic tools and techniques needed to paint outdoors, including how to set up a palette and choose a subject. Beginner painters will have the option to use a pre-sketched canvas as the foundation for their painting. After a short demonstration, participants will enjoy one-on-one instruction and interaction with instructor Victoria Brzustowicz as they work at their own pace.

This class is suitable for beginner and more experienced artists. All tools and materials will be provided.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Victoria Brzustowicz is an award-winning painter and illustrator. A native of Rochester NY, Brzustowicz graduated from Wells College with a BA in Studio Art. At Wells, she studied with the painter Bill Roberts.

Brzustowicz focused on abstract painting for most of her career, but in 2015 she was introduced to the techniques of painting alla prima through classes with noted plein air painter Carol L. Douglas. Her work explores the line between abstraction and representation, with an emphasis on surface and mark-making.

Brzustowicz is co-founder and chair of the Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters, an inclusive, active group of painters that get together throughout the year to paint outside of the studio. She is affiliated with Flower City Arts Center where she teaches drawing, painting, and linoleum block printing, and the Art Stop, in Penfield, NY where she teaches oil painting.


Weaving CLASSES

July 20 | Learn to Weave: Foraged Basketry

12pm-4pm
$
95

Students in the Foraged Basketry class explore the fundamentals of using organic, foraged materials like grapevine to weave a basket or natural form. The instructor will demonstrate the weaving technique with students using beginner-friendly materials before moving on to weaving with grapevine. There will be plenty of time for individual instruction.

This class will be held outdoors, weather permitting, in order to draw inspiration from the natural world and provide a restful setting for creating natural woven art. Students will leave with a basic knowledge of the weaving technique, and a grapevine basket or form.

This class is suitable for beginner or for beginner/intermediate students. All supplies will be included.

August 4 | Learn to Weave: Tapestry & Frame Weaving

12pm-4pm
$115

Explore the basics of weaving with a simple frame loom. During this 4-hour, hands-on class, expert instructor Tami Fuller will teach participants how to warp, select materials for texture and strength, and offer instruction on tabby, twining, and selected intermediate techniques as you build a small wall hanging.

This class will be held outdoors, weather permitting, in order to draw inspiration from the natural world and provide a restful setting for creating beautiful woven art. Instruction will include weaving time, finishing, and hanging. Students will leave with beginner weaving knowledge, along with a completed and mounted fiber art piece.

This class is suitable for beginner or for beginner/intermediate students. All supplies will be included. Use of a student loom is provided during the class, with the option to purchase the loom at the end if desired.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Tami Fuller is a second-generation fiber artist and works as an educator and working artist out of East Aurora. Her work integrates the traditional foundations of hand-constructed processes with modern technique. Her workshops are designed with an eye toward revitalizing and modernizing fiber, ensuring the continuation of these skill sets by exposing the art form to new people within new contexts. She was trained in ebru marbling on fabric in her youth and has refined her process on paper and on silk. She teaches retreats and workshops throughout the North East and the Pacific Northwest, where her family has a large sheep farm that specializes in breed conservation for rare or at-risk breeds of sheep.

Her work has received awards from NY Sheep and Wool and the Carnegie Art Center. In 2022, she was defined as a WNY artist culture-maker and a recipient of the NY Council on the Arts “Creatives Rebuild NY” grant, tasked with rebuilding arts access post-COVID. She has shown in several solo and group shows locally and her work can be found in collections in the United States and Australia.


About The Event

  • Cumming Nature Center
  • Ongoing