Kingwood art studio Krafty Shack helps children unplug, socialize


In a creativity studio on Chestnut Ridge Drive at the front of Kingwood, residents can take art classes to explore their talents and find an outlet for stress.

“That’s our goal,” studio staff member Ruth Ugarte-Pratt said. “To encourage kids’ creativity and love of arts and crafts, and promote social behaviors, unplugged from devices.”

In 2006, Ugarte-Pratt and her husband Neil Pratt moved to Kingwood from Los Angeles. After the move, their daughter Marie Smith, who Ugarte-Pratt said has always had a passion for drawing, decided she wanted to teach young children how to draw.

With a financial boost from Pratt, Smith opened the Krafty Shack in January 2016 and became its director and main teacher.

Since then, Smith and her best friend Katherine Gilpin, a photography student, have taught drawing and craft classes to school-age children, bringing their passion for the creative arts to the next generation of creators.

Starting with two students, the classes soon grew to 200 students per month learning anime, drawing and calligraphy. Smith and Gilpin said they noticed how well the act of making art helped calm the children and build their self-confidence.

In 2018, Krafty Shack had enough of a following to start charging students so the class fee covers the artist materials the studio buys in bulk.

Besides daily arts and craft classes, Krafty Shack also offers painting parties for artists of all ages and school holiday three-hour day camps for ages five and older. Students can paint the provided theme, such as a unicorn or shark, or provide their own theme.

In the day camps, students paint, have a provided snack, play a game that gets them moving—such as musical chairs or freeze dance—then create a craft, which could be origami, jewelry making or glass painting.

“There’s a lot of kids who have stress from sibling rivalry, college, peer pressure,” Gilpin said. “We try to keep an eye on those kids who are perfectionists and who get frustrated with their own progress. We get those kids to relax and improve.”

Camps, classes offered

The Krafty Shack offers numerous crafting classes for children and adults. The business also hosts birthday parties and painting parties for adults.

  • Craft camps ($20): for children ages five and older
  • Birthday, painting parties ($195): eight-10 people, up to an hour and a half
  • Free craft classes: ages vary, three classes per child each month
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