By Christine Heeley
There was a time in my life when I was crafty.
Once upon a time I was known to make unique Christmas presents, refinish curbed furniture, even devise elaborate costumes for my friends' kids and my dog. All I needed was a hot-glue gun and a dream. Then life happened, time devoted to handmaking things disappeared, and my time devoted to hanging out in bars increased.
But drinking and crafting don't have to be mutually exclusive.
DIY Bar (3522 N Vancouver Ave., 503-477-6090, diybar.co) understands this. A large, well-lit space filled with tables covered in butcher paper, it looks like a private college art classroom, with one important difference—a beer and wine bar built from repurposed wood materials from the ReBuilding Center.
For $29 to $39—less during happy hour—you can choose from an extensive menu of craft projects, everything from home décor to everyday items to jewelry and cat toys. (Reservations are highly recommended.) A craft tender hangs out nearby in case you need help or have questions. More importantly, the tender stands by to serve you beer, cider or wine, for an additional $5 to $7. You're allowed three hours to work and drink during the session you reserve, so there's no rush.
Once you decide on a project, you're handed a bag with all the pre-selected materials and tools you'll need. Instructions are included with pictures detailed enough even someone who's never made a macaroni necklace could easily follow along. The supply shelves are neatly organized with every paint color, brush, stencil, bead, feather and cord you could want.
On my visit, I chose to make the succulent holder, to finally force myself to put plants in my apartment. Drink in hand, I charted new craft territory as I mixed and poured cement into molds. Drinking while crafting is fun. However, moderation is advised—the projects are a bit more involved than just glitter and glue. Actual tools are involved, so I put myself on a two-drink limit so I wouldn't lose a finger.
My friend seated across from me was gleefully stamping letters into a piece of leather to make a Mason jar holder. Two people seated behind us were hammering nails into boards to create some string art. As one of them banged away, she commented to her friend how therapeutic the experience was. She hit the nail on the head—figuratively and literally.
We finished early and had some more drinks while watching others' projects come together. I've definitely spent two hours in a bar before. Rarely, however, have I come out with a sense of accomplishment and something useful I got to make with my own two hands.