For classes in a variety of crafty sewing and printing methods, check out Make Workshop (makeworkshop.com) on the LES. They also offer private lessons and (soon) a shop.
Head to West Village craft shop The Ink Pad (22 Eighth Ave, theinkpadnyc.com) for supplies and classes in stamping, metalwork, printing, jewelry-design and more. Or, in Midtown, Metalliferous (34 W 46th St, metalliferous.com) specializes in metals, beads and tools, everything you need for your casual to professional jewelry habits.
Slightly more involved than shopping on Etsy.com, head to Etsy Labs (325 Gold St, 3rd Fl, etsylabs.etsy.com) in downtown Brooklyn. Every Monday from 4pm to 8pm is open craft night, and the first Sunday of every month from 2pm to 6pm is the Church of Craft open crafting event. They also offer a variety of (relatively inexpensive) crafting classes.
Creative shopper but not-so-successful creator? No biggie, you can still support local artists doing it for themselves. In Manhattan check out Underground NYC (440 Broadway, underground-nyc.com) for ingenious doo-dads by emerging creative types. In Williamsburg there’s Artists and Fleas (129 N 6th St, artistsandfleas.com), Carroll Gardens has the weekly Brooklyn Indie Market (brooklynindiemarket.com), and every Sunday Fort Greene hosts the hot new Brooklyn Flea (Lafayette Ave at Clermont Ave, brooklynflea.com). Also, don’t miss the annual Renegade Craft Fair (McCarren Park Pool, renegadecraft.com) June 14 and 15 from 11am to 7pm.
The web offers more crafty DIY resources by the day, it seems. Aforementioned craft giant Etsy (etsy.com) ain’t bad, though the emphasis is on selling rather than making. Craftzine (blog.craftzine.com) remains a favorite for incorporating buyable items and how-to guides. Likewise, Craftster (craftster.org) combines shopping and guiding for all things cute and crafty.
Whether you want to be the next Coppolla (father or daughter), Altman, Apatow or to churn out some Michel Gondry-inspired sweded revisions, a little time spent at the New York Film Academy (100 E 17th St, nyfa.com) will probably do you some good. Or get your digital on with classes at DCTV, from storyboarding to Final Cut (dctvny.org).
Still struggling with that manuscript for your epic first novel (and the accompanying pilot script for a TV show about a writer struggling to finish her first novel, an epic)? A couple classes at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop (writingclasses.com) might be just what you need to get through those last 700 pages.
Once you’ve finished “Epic Novel,” rather than shopping it around to pushy corporate publishers, head to Lulu (lulu.com) and publish it yourself. Even if it doesn’t sell that well, you can buy copies for yourself and your friends. While there, check out what others are self-publishing these days.
For all manner of eco-conscious apartment improvement, the Council on the Environment of New York City’s Green Life program (cenyc.org/greenlife) provides extremely useful guides for environmentally sound home and lifestyle changes. They even have a section on noise pollution, finally!
With the environmentally friendly ground rules in place, time to get to work on your apartment improvement projects. Online self-fixing community Refurber (refurber.com) offers everything from plumbing troubleshooting to putting in new floors. On the more design-conscious side of things, Re-Nest (re-nest.com) offers products and advice for green apartment-dwellers with style.
Restaurants that let you cook your meal are sort of fascinating, you know? Like some kind of out-of-apartment kitchen fantasy. So, for instance, you can cook your own shabu shabu at Japanese joint Quickly (237B Grand St, 212-431-0998), or grill yourself some Korean barbeque entrees at Bann (350 W 50th St, 212-582-4446, bannrestaurant.com). You’re not really cooking for yourself, but at bustling dim sum hall Jing Hong Restaurant (20 Elizabeth St, 2nd Fl, 212-964-5256) you’re more likely to get those dumplings you’re craving if you chase down the cart on foot or stand watch near the kitchen, which you’re encouraged to do.
Somewhere between the microbrewery fad and the speakeasy fad lies the homebrew mini-fad. The Brew Dudes blog (brewdudes.com) has a wealth of information ranging from equipment, recipes and general start-up tutorials. Home Brew Talk (homebrewtalk.com) is a helpful discussion forum that also covers wine mead and cider, for those tending a (more) complete apartment bar.
Running the gamut from free to $65 per lesson, that gentrifying super-supermarket Whole Foods at Houston and Bowery gives back to the community with cooking classes, demonstrations and tastings at its Culinary Center. For those with especially well-lined pockets and more high-minded culinary aspirations, the Natural Gourmet Institute (48 W 21st St, naturalgourmetschool.com) offers classes on medicinal mushrooms, vegan cupcakes and market tours, to name a few. In the same per-class price range (around $100), the Institute of Culinary Education (50 W 23rd St, iceculinary.com) covers cooking and palate-educating beer, wine and cocktail tastings. And on the eighth floor of Macy’s, the De Gustibus Cooking School (151 W 34th St, degustibusinc.com) specializes in region-specific classes like “Absolutely Asian” or “Italian, the Californian Way.”
Cutting restaurants and supermarkets out of your food budget entirely? Tour a New York City park with “Wildman” Steve Brill (914-835-2153, wildmanstevebrill.com) and find out what edibles you can harvest from your local public green space.
Can’t quite eat properly off the plants growing in your local park? Do the next best thing and support a local independent farmer who delivers a crate of the freshest crops once a week. Just Food (justfood.org) provides neighborhood-specific Community Supported Agriculture listings. Beyond food, Local Harvest (localharvest.org) is an online vendor of every green good imaginable, and they also host forums and organize events.
For all manner of sex-related activism and information — from sex worker rights to discussions about childhood sexuality and fetishes of all sorts — Sex in the Public Square (sexinthepublicsquare.org) is an invaluable resource for those looking to get involved or acquainted with the issues.
Combining knowledge and networking, Polyamorous NYC (poly-nyc.com) offers an online meeting place for individuals, couples and groups. They also organize a meeting at 8pm on the third Wednesday of every month at the equally invaluable LGBT Community Center of New York (208 W 13th St, gaycenter.com).
In as much as it’s not-for-profit, Rooftop Films (rooftopfilms.com) has a line-up of DIY-ish screenings of recent underground films throughout the summer, mostly in downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
For independently published and promoted literature, head to the annual New York Book Festival (newyorkbookfestival.com), taking place on June 27 and 28 in Central Park, foregrounding the works of under-the-radar authors and publishers.
Rather than pay the (often ludicrous) admission fees of so many museums, why not plan a gallery crawl? Gallery-rich neighborhoods Chelsea (chelseaartgalleries.com) and Williamsburg (williamsburggalleryassociation.com) offer a free and walkable way to get your finger on the contemporary art pulse.
Ushering is the theater equivalent of subsistence farming: show enough ticketholders to their seats and before you know it you’re holding a ticket yourself. Many on-, off- and off-off-Broadway theaters provide ushers free tickets, so do a little web research, grab a flashlight and walk that aisle.
Before trying your hand at tattooing your other hand, check out the forums on Ink Trails (ink-trails.com) for helpful tips. If you forgo such useful resources, you might look into DIY tattoo removal with a nifty gadget made available for private use by Shanghai Spread (spread-laser.com).
Body art activist Karen L. Hudson runs a helpful tattoo and piercing blog (tattoo.about.com) with tips for beginners and useful information for more experienced and adventurous bod-mod enthusiasts.
Can’t afford a membership at the gym with the underwater rooftop hot yoga studio, personal towelers and PhD-wielding motivational yellers? Maybe you should build your own dumbbells, or at least come up with some stretches you can do in your (presumably small) apartment. For such populist fitness alternatives, check out Straight to the Bar (straighttothebar.com) for useful tips and how-tos.
Tired of the treadmill? Well, that’s kinda the whole point… Seriously though, that gym-locked cardio workout can also be done outside, and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s BeFitNYC program (nycgovparks.org/befitnyc) has all kinds of weekly events from runs, hikes and bike trips to yoga and cricket.
And what better way to power through those urban workouts than with your very own energy bar? Pick the ingredients, choose a name, and tear into your box of 12 fresh YouBars (youbars.com) about three weeks later.
Can’t afford an apartment with a garden? That’s weird… Well, why not volunteer putting in a couple hours a week in a local public park? Partnership for Parks (partnershipsforparks.org) sets people up with as much or as little time as they want at local parks or in larger projects.
The Council on the Environment of New York City’s Open Space (cenyc.org/openspace) program lets neighborhood gardeners pool their efforts and acreage with the city’s green spaces. Volunteer your time and shovel, or help by doing something as simple as rainwater recuperation.
The city’s Green Thumb (greenthumbnyc.org) program organizes all sorts of fun events in public parks, and offers workshops and materials for urban gardeners in need of direction. Partner site NYC OASIS (Open Accessible Space Information System, oasisnyc.net) provides maps and guides to the city’s most tucked away green spaces.
The environmental grassroots activist group Green Guerillas (greenguerillas.org) is also all about community participation, and focuses on supporting community gardens, growing food and mobilizing youth.
Turning old tees into a rug? Making your totaled bike and the crutches that followed it into a barstool? Wanna rock a homemade fish helmet? A slew of encyclopedic DIY networks can teach you how. Instructables (instructables.com) is particularly good for its visual format, wherein videos and images replace instructions.
Montreal-based DIY Blog (diyblog.net) is perhaps a little more modest in its aspirations, instructing users how to replace a bicycle spoke or make their own laundry detergent. DIY Network (diynetwork.com) is — as the name suggests — the online component of a cable TV channel. As such, it is massive in scope, but also decidedly suburban and middle-aged. That said, there’s enough there to make it well worth while. Offering a strangely comprehensive array of tips — how to cut an onion, fix a leaking water valve, construct a marshmallow catapult — DIY Life (diylife.com) has the breadth of content to match its name. On a more local scale, DIY City Mag (diycitymag.com) is a very helpful (and pretty!) New York-based online zine.
On the high tech end of things, Street Tech (streettech.com) is a recuperation-oriented electronic gadgetry site that’s perfect for motherboard tweakers and cyberpunks. With its innovative podcast format, Podnutz (podnutz.com) has more mainstream aspirations, like virus and spyware protection, laptop repair and computer assembly. Mixing fun and practical elements of nerdiness, Geek DIY (geekdiy.com) offers help with building a TV projector, making liquid nitrogen ice cream and — of course — making your own light saber. Geek Crafts (geekcrafts.com), meanwhile, is decidedly more artsy. Readers learn how to bake sci-fi themed cakes knit Transformers hats.