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10 Ways to Create a Unique Portland Souvenir

Souvenirs are a great way to bring back memories of specific trips and experiences. The best will remind you of what made this place so special.

So a Portland fridge magnet just isn’t going to cut it.

Renowned for its unique and innovative designer scene, Portland is a hotbed of creativity and entrepreneurship. If you really want to capture its essence, you should take advantage of one of the city’s incredible makerspaces, like ADX Portland, founded by Kelley Roy (who literally wrote the book on Made in Portland), where collaboration reigns and you can learn to design anything from clothes to jewelry to household items.

Here are 10 ways to create unique memories and, while you’re at it, great memories.

Edison bulb lamp class | ADX Portland

The Edison Bulb Lamp Class at ADX Portland is a great idea! – Photo courtesy of ADX Portland

Make your own lamp using the trendy and retro-cool Edison style bulb.

This two-hour course is taught by local manufacturer Josh Mabry of, who creates amazing lighting with wood. It’ll teach you how to use basic tools, woodworking, and electrical wiring, and you’ll return home with your own desk lamp, light and small enough to fit in your suitcase.

Class Portsmith Tote | Klum House Workshop

Create your own Portsmith tote at Klum House WorkshopCreate your own Portsmith tote at Klum House Workshop – Photo courtesy of Klum House Workshop

Looking at this gorgeous bag, it’s hard to believe that it is considered a level 1 sewing course with no sewing experience required, right?

But, in three hours, you will have learned to sew with heavy canvas on a home machine, to sew an envelope base, to tie metal hardware, to tie a base layer for reinforcement, and leather straps for a easy handling.

You will actually have made this tote with your own hands – something that you will rightly brag about for years to come.

Rocking Knife Course | Bridgetown Forge

Forge a rocking knife set at Bridgetown ForgeForge a set of rocking knives at Bridgetown Forge – Photo courtesy of Bridgetown Forge

You may have seen the Bridgetown Forge double-edged ax on TV in Grimm, but it is the Japanese chef’s knives that are the true passion of blacksmith Arnon Kartmazov. And that’s exactly what you can learn to do on your own – with its help.

Forge your own six-inch rocking knife, a handy tool that’s as sharp as it is sharp. It is unique in that it is forged from a single piece of high carbon steel, which represents a great learning opportunity in handling hot steel.

You stamp it with your initials, harden it, temper it and sharpen it by hand on a water stone. No previous blacksmithing experience is required. Just plan to send your masterpiece home or pack it neatly in your checked baggage.

Leather belt class | ADX Portland

Wear home the leather belt you make at ADX PortlandWear home the leather belt you make at ADX Portland – Photo courtesy of ADX Portland

Learn how to properly size a belt, how to cut leather with a strap cutter, how to chamfer and burnish edges, how to refine leather with a bevelling tool, how to use punching and webbing end, fixing material, dyeing and finishing leather.

You will design, finish and style your own leather belt in one evening. And you’ll be so impressed with your new skills that you won’t want to get rid of them when you go through airport security!

Drop catch Craft + Sip Session bottle opener | DIY bar

The drop catch bottle opener is one of the many Craft + Sip sessions at the DIY BarThe drop catch bottle opener is one of the many Craft + Sip sessions at DIY Bar – Photo courtesy of DIY Bar

At the DIY Bar, you can choose any craft you like from their extensive menu of projects. Rather than taking a class, you settle in for a three-hour self-guided Craft + Sip session, taking a user-friendly tutorial that walks you through each step. You also have access to a craft tender that walks around, gives tips, and answers questions.

Go for the super simple bottle opener, which does exactly what it says: it opens the bottles and grabs the corks. It’s probably so popular not only because it’s convenient and easy to prepare, but also because you can immediately use it for local beer served while you work. It’s a craft bar, after all.

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Private sewing lessons | Portland Clothing Lab

Take a private sewing class at the Portland Apparel LabTake a private sewing class at Portland Apparel Lab – Photo courtesy of Portland Apparel Lab

If you want to try your hand at tailoring your own clothes, this is the place to perfect every aspect of the process, from collars and cuffs to zippers and pockets.

Pattern Creation Founder / Teacher Dawn Moothart and Sewing Teacher Heather Treadway offer a variety of group and private lessons so you can focus on making your dream design come true. Instead of spending your time shopping for a pretty outfit, come in and do what the designers of Portland do – learn how to make it yourself.

Kumiko speaker class | ADX Portland

Make your own kumiko speaker at ADX PortlandMake your own kumiko speaker at ADX Portland – Photo courtesy of ADX Portland

Traditional Japanese woodworking is famous for its precise carpentry that does not require any hardware or glue to maintain its strength. This technique is also used to create intricate functional wooden works of art, known as kumiko, which are present in Japanese design to create a stunning atmosphere.

In this four hour course, you will make a small amplified speaker that will make you proud every time you listen to your music.

Wildwood dopp kit class | Klum House

Make the Wildwood kitt dopp at the Klum House WorkshopDo the Wildwood kitt dopp at Klum House Workshop – Photo courtesy of Klum House Workshop

This 2.5 hour sewing workshop for beginners teaches you how to sew a zipper, create a square pocket, insert a liner, apply metal rivets and work with oilcloth in your choice of colors rich and juicy.

The resulting dopp kit looks so good that you won’t believe you made it yourself. It’s a really special gift or a stylish way to bring home all that hotel toiletries.

Introductory Typography Workshop | Resource Center for Independent Publishing

Take part in the introductory typography workshop at the IPRCTake part in the introductory typography workshop at the IPRC – Photo courtesy of Darius Kuzmickas

This introductory course covers the basics of letterpress printing over two days, teaching you to compose by hand with the IPRC’s extensive collection of lead and wood typefaces.

You will learn this traditional craft through demonstrations and hands-on experiences, gaining a basic understanding of the printing process. The material is provided to you to create a small edition of your own exclusive prints.

Japanese Woodblock Print and Engraving Course | ADX Portland

Get creative on the Japanese woodblock print and engraving class at ADX Portland – Photo courtesy of ADX Portland

Japanese woodblock printing techniques date back to the 8th century, when printing methods were shared by Chinese Buddhist temples. Traditional tools and techniques have not changed since and are now taught around the world. Quick to learn but difficult to master, Japanese woodblock printing is a safe and economical way to create unique, handmade works of art.

You will leave the course with a block you carved, prints you printed, and the knowledge you need to practice at home. This relief printing technique is done entirely by hand and with minimal tools, making it possible to print from start to finish almost anywhere.

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