Classes, Lectures & Workshops

Classes, Lectures & Workshops 2017-09-06T11:20:13+00:00

So many things to learn at our Classes, Lectures, & Workshops!

Come and participate! At Tohono Chul we’re all about connecting our members and visitors to the amazing world around us, engaging them in new discoveries about our region. Read on to discover our rich schedule of classes and workshops. You’ll be delighted to learn about, engage and have fun with the nature, art and culture of the southwest.

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Building Naturally

Saturday | October 7 | 10am | Ed. Center #1 | Free with admission

Architect Natasha Winnik (Originate Organic Building Materials) believes in working both inside and out with materials that are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, durable and made from natural, renewable and recycled resources. Many of these renewable materials began their lives as plants, and we’re not just talking about bamboo, but wheat or rice straw, soybeans, hemp and flax. Discover how you can soften the look of your space, making it feel more organic, more in touch with nature and more environmentally conscious.


No Species is an Island: Bats, Cacti and Secrets of the Sonoran Desert

Sunday | October 8 | 2pm | Ed. Center #1 | Free with admission

The most biologically diverse desert in the world, the Sonoran Desert hosts four species of columnar cacti which, along with their pollinators, have been the subject of an eleven-year study by Dr. Theodore Fleming. No Species Is an Island describes his surprising results including the ability of organ pipe cactus to produce fruit with another species’ pollen and the highly specialized moth-cactus pollination system of the senita. With illustrations by Kim Kanoa Duffek, Fleming’s book offers an insightful look at how field ecologists work and at the often big surprises that come from looking carefully at a natural world where no species stands alone. Copies of No Species is an Island will be available for sale and signing.


Basketweave Gourd

Saturday | November 4 | 9am – 4pm | Ed. Center #2 | $80 members, $100 general public

In this workshop with noted gourd artist Sue Brogdon, students fashion a truly unique vessel featuring cutouts accented with strips of copper or hammered aluminum, set against an alcohol ink or dye ink finish. Beginning with instruction in the design and cutting of the basket weave section of the gourd, participants move on to color application, utilizing embossing powder to compliment the metal. To complete the look, students couch the area below the rim, finishing with a simple lashing stitch and attaching beads to conceal drill holes and adding a center focal point fashioned of metal or sea grass. Please bring latex or plastic gloves, heat tool (if you have one), scissors, wire cutter, old towel and a bucket. Instructor provides a cleaned and prepped medium-sized round gourd, dye and alcohol inks, sealant, black sea grass, copper and aluminum strips, copper wire, needle and beads.



Designing with Edibles

Saturday | November 4 | 10am | Ed. Center #1 | $6 members, $10 general public

You really can have your horticultural cake and eat it too! Landscapes that look (and are) good enough to eat can be a reality in Tucson. Jason Isenberg, owner and award-winning designer at REALM, discusses how to design your yard with edible plants in mind. Nutritive landscapes, organics, water conservation and overall aesthetic considerations are covered. If you have a garden, make it a tasty one!



A “Novel” Project in Silver Clay

Saturday | November 11 | 9am – 12pm | Ed. Center #2 | $125 members, $140 general public

This mini-book may not land you on the best seller’s list, but your friends will be clamoring at your door for their own personalized copy. Award-winning metal clay artist Lyle Rayfield guides participants through the process of creating and texturing miniature book covers using silver metal clay, embellishing them with tiny clay elements and filling them with colorful pages or personalized notes or pictures. When complete, you will want to proudly wear your story for all to see.

Microscopic particles of pure silver are combined with an organic binder to produce the clay-like substance known as silver metal clay. When fired at high temperatures, the binder burns off and the metal particles fuse into a solid piece of silver. Students will learn the a-b-c’s of working with fine silver metal clay while creating a mini-book inspired by the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. Demonstrations and instruction will cover how to properly roll, texture, shape, refine, fire, and finish metal clay creations (no experience necessary). All materials supplied, but please bring a magnifying glass and an apron.



Landscape Design for Newcomers & Residents Alike

Saturday | November 11 | 10am | Ed. Center #1 | $6 members, $10 general public

Multiple award winning, Master of Landscape Architecture, Shelly Ann Abbott, MLA, shows Tucson newcomers as well as longtime residents how they can create stunning, colorful desert landscapes using her unique landscape design concepts. Please feel free to bring photos, old plans, or measurements etc. and “ask the expert!”



Zentangle® 101

Saturday | November 18 | 9am – 12pm | Ed. Center #2 | $45 members, $60 general public

Certified Zentangle® instructor Judy Kula invites you to join her for an introductory workshop to learn this easy, relaxing method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. The Zentangle® method reduces stress, improves focus and sparks creativity, and is considered a “mindful” practice as in yoga or tai chi. Absolutely no drawing experience is needed — in the words of the founders, “anything is possible one stroke at a time.”

Kula introduces the basics of “tangling,” through demonstrations and handouts, explaining the method’s foundations and principles. Participants will practice several basic tangles and complete a personalized tile. New tangles will be demonstrated that can then be used to create a tangled botanical garden. All supplies included.



Nifty, “Gifty” Gourds

Saturday | December 2 | 9am – 4pm | Ed. Center #2 | $80 members, $100 general public

Alcohol inks, when mixed, blended or washed together create a plethora of vibrant colors and gourd artist Sue Brogdon is on hand to demonstrate more than a dozen different ways to utilize these bold colors – dripping, outlining, stamping, painting, and blending, to name a few. With some additional insights into color theory, students then have the opportunity to try their hand at each technique. In the afternoon it’s time for free-form wire wrapping and embellishing their gourds, “cannonballs” and ornament-sized as well. Please bring plastic or latex gloves, heat tool (if you have one), fast drying gel glue such as Gorilla glue, scissors, flat nosed pliers, wire cutter and a roll of  30 yard/26 gage copper wire (available from Michael’s,  JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby). Instructor provides two “cannonball” and four small gourds, alcohol inks, dye inks, brushes, sealant and embellishments such as feathers, beads and rocks to complete each of custom-designed pieces.



The Frugal Gardener

Saturday | December 2 | 10am | Ed. Center #1 | $6 members, $10 general public

Are you planning a new landscape or even a re-design? Have you been told you should set aside 10-15% of the value of your home to finance a quality garden? For many of you, this is likely way more than you can or even want to invest. Don’t despair. Limited budgets don’t mean limited landscapes, they just require creative thinking about plants and hardscapes. Tucson-based landscape designer and award-winning author Scott Calhoun shares his passion for combining plants, recycled objects and build-it-yourself furniture that result in innovative and playful gardens that fit your lifestyle and don’t break the bank.



Pocket Sketching

Wednesday – Friday | December 6-8 | 10am – 4pm | Ed. Center #2

  • $285 Member (no supplies)
  • $325 Members (with supplies)
  • $300 General Public (no supplies)
  • $340 General Public (with supplies)

This quick-draw technique of artist Kath Macaulay is perfect for travel journaling, hiking, biking, sauntering or just sitting in a roadside café. Capture what you see in 25 minutes or less using a water soluble pen, 4×6 inch pad and a small paint set. Workshop includes basic technique anyone can learn, and working ‘on location’ in the Park, plus technique from John Singer Sargent. Ideal for timid beginners who want to fearlessly paint in public, and for experienced artists who want total portability, speed and no clean-up. Cost includes all supplies; if you already have them, take advantage of the discounted price (list emailed on request from The workshop meets from 10am-4pm each day.



The Handy Gardener

Saturday | December 9 | 10am | Ed. Center #1 | $6 members, $10 general public

DIY landscaping is satisfying work, but it’s less fun without the right tools. Eli Nielsen (EcoSense Sustainable Landscapes) and Greg Corman (Gardening Insights) help you make the best choice for the job in a “show and tell” style class highlighting the tools to buy, or make, to get a job done not just efficiently, but well.