May 2019

AR Workshop: Everybody's Doing It!

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Christine Clegg, owner of AR Workshop in the Village at Wexford

There are two kinds of people in the world: artsy/craftsy DIYers and the rest of us. The good news is, AR Workshop is for everybody, from the HGTV Joanna Gaines wanna-be to the most craft-averse. All you need is an open mind and about three hours. The rest is easy, and the result will leave you amazed and ready for more.
Anders Ruff (AR) Workshop, founded by Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff, now with over 100 franchises nationwide, is a hands-on DIY studio, offering a variety of home décor projects that are stylish, classic and on-trend. Since August of 2018, Hilton Head Island franchise owner Christine Clegg has been hosting the popular new workshops at her studio in the Village at Wexford, much to the delight of area residents and visitors jumping on the DIY bandwagon or simply looking for something different to do.

It’s fast becoming a happening girls’-night-out spot, as well as a venue for group outings, team-building events, fundraisers, couples’ date nights (yes men are welcome, too!), bachelorette parties, mother/daughter bonding experiences, youth workshops, and even children’s parties. The buzz about town has gotten louder as people of all ages and skill levels have discovered a new happy place, where the cares of the world and pressures of the day magically vanish amidst a flurry of creative energy, camaraderie, and newfound confidence.

The vibe is farmhouse chic—think plank signs, pedestal trays, bath trays, lazy Susans, centerpiece boxes,
canvas wall hangings, pillows, chunky knit blankets, tote bags and more. But the projects are as varied and versatile as the people who make them.

“People are surprised that they can make different projects or the same one and have a completely customized piece at the end,” Clegg said. “And you get to take it home. It’s one and done.”

Whether you want to make something for yourself or someone else, you’ll find a workshop project that just suits the intended use or the occasion. Choose from a vast array of designs including sports, holiday and special occasion themes: for spring, think golf and Mother’s Day! Give your mom or that special lady in your life something you made or the gift of a shared experience. AR Workshop projects also make perfect gifts for brides, new moms, and everyone on your birthday and holiday lists.

What to expect
On a recent Wednesday night, I invited a friend to join me for my first AR Workshop experience. We showed up with a bottle of wine, a box of crackers, and a little fear and trepidation. Donning our aprons and waiting for further instructions, we soon discovered that most of the participants were like us—either new to the workshop or inexperienced and slightly insecure about what was to come.

When registering for the class, which we did within the required 24-hour advance timeframe, we had selected our projects and designs, including the customization, which for many items is a name or initial but can be more. (I chose to make a lazy Susan for my stepdaughter, incorporating her family name into the pineapple hospitality symbol.)

While the design selection is quite extensive, with three days’ advance notice, you can request a completely unique stencil—maybe a family saying or an inspirational message you like. The possibilities are endless, according to Clegg.

As class began, we were given a brief description of various techniques we might use to achieve the look and feel we desired for our plank projects. We got to see examples of completed projects along with sample boards of stains, paint colors and finishes.

Wooden pieces are precut, so you won’t be wielding any dangerous power tools. Small, portable drills are used for installing hardware on some pieces, but with supervision and a little hand-holding, operation is a piece of cake and perfectly safe.

If you’re not artistically inclined and you’ve never painted anything other than perhaps your toenails, the first 10 minutes of decision-making can be a bit scary. Nobody wants to get it wrong! But you soon learn that you can’t really make a mistake. The entire project is guided and controlled just enough to give you the confidence you need to truly produce something that is all your own. Your table assistant is there every step of the way to help you make the necessary selections and to encourage you to lighten up and enjoy the process. Before you know it, you are sanding, stenciling, and painting like a pro, and at the end, you marvel at what you just created.

Morning, afternoon and evening classes are offered, and special events can always be arranged. (See for current offerings.) Groups of 18 or more can reserve the entire workshop for a private event. Groups of six can reserve a table at any of the pre-scheduled classes. But don’t be afraid to come alone. Lots of people do, according to Clegg. The friendly, open atmosphere lends itself to conversation and interaction along with a sense of accomplishment and empowerment that is sure to have you telling all your friends and coming back for more.

If the kids need something wholesome to do this summer, AR Workshop will be hosting a series of four-day summer camps, June-August, for children ages 7-14. Participants will create one project per day, Clegg explained.

Most adult projects range from $40-$70, and children’s projects range from $40-$45. All materials, tools, and instruction are included. Participants are invited to bring snacks, sodas, wine, or whatever they like to make their time at AR Workshop both relaxing and enjoyable. But you can just bring yourself and have plenty of good, clean fun.

Clegg, a wife, mother and 27-year Hilton Head Island resident, always enjoyed art as a hobby. She and her 14-year-old daughter Courtney have enjoyed making DIY projects throughout the years and now have a place to share the fun with others. With a background in accounting, Clegg is perfectly suited to business ownership and is thrilled with her new career, doing what she loves.

“The DIY trend is here to stay,” she said. “People enjoy being able to make something and personalize it. It’s a creative outlet, plus it’s something entertaining to do.” 

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