Despite COVID-19, the Sky is the Limit at Sky Soup
Weekly art kits have kept the creativity--and the community--thriving through the darkness.
“The sky is the limit, and soup is all of the materials together—so it’s the idea of unlimited artmaking.” Sky Soup founder Heather Exley, an art teacher at Friends’ Central School, began Sky Soup Art Center in Bala Cynwyd to expand her passion and provide a space for all ages to explore, gather, and have fun creating. As the COVID-19 pandemic closed businesses, this became truer than ever—the power of art and community connection reached far beyond the brick and mortar.
“Children learn many lessons in art,” Exley writes on her website. “These lessons include: all problems have more than one solution, each person interprets the world differently, small differences have large effects.” When Sky Soup’s doors closed, Exley created Art Kits To-Go to keep the learning going, but they became so much more. “I started doing this because I have families that had signed up for 10 weeks of classes and I wanted to give them something in lieu of classes, but then other families were interested so now I’m doing them for everyone!”
Each $20 kit has a weekly theme and has four to seven projects for kids to create. Kits also vary by age group—choose from an “exploration” kit for toddlers (ages 1.5-3), or one for older kids (ages 4-12). You do not need to be enrolled in a class to order one and get in on the projects! Kits can be mailed, or picked up on the sidewalk outside of Sky Soup. Exley especially loves when families opt for the latter because she gets to see the children looking in the window, and sometimes sending her “air hugs.”
While parents are grateful that their kids have something to do at home and can keep the artmaking going, this has been equally as meaningful for Sky Soup’s owner. “Kids in my classes have been writing me sweet notes and sending me pictures of projects they’re doing at home with the kits,” Exley reports. See some finished products on Sky Soup’s Instagram to get some inspiration!
As the school year winds down, Sky Soup is looking forward to its third year of Summer Camp as well. The weekly camp has themes such as Cardboard Creations, All Things Food (making fake food), Potions (including slime), Rainbow Week, Galaxy, Superheroes, and many more. A Friends’ Central colleague of Exley’s is also planning a two-week Jewelry Camp. Of course, no one knows what summer will look like, so they are exploring virtual options if camp cannot convene in person. Because of the weekly format of camp, they hope to be able to move to in-person camp as things re-open. Summer Camp is currently enrolling on Sky Soup’s website, here.
The doors remain closed for now, but the sky is still the limit at Sky Soup. The creativity and community have only grown, transcending virus and walls. “It’s the connecting with people that has made all the difference in my business. I have been in awe about that.”
Photographs provided by Sky Soup Art Center. Sky Soup supports the Main Line Parent Community.