A Philadelphian’s Guide to Learning … Anything

A class for every skill


In a Few Hours

Take a decent picture (as a subject)
Turns out there aren’t a lot of modeling agencies interested in teaching non-models how to pose for photos­—so Mary Anne Claro (actress, model, owner of Claro Talent) is something of a find. Over the course of your lunch break, she’ll teach you, mere mortal, the secrets (angles, poses, the like) she divulges to models that make for better shots. No more double chins!
THE TIME: One hour.
THE TAB: $100 per one-hour private session.

Make grandma’s gravy
Handing me a baster, Grandma tells me to suck up all the juice that’s run out of the roasting turkey, then transfer it to a separator that will block the fat when I’m pouring it into our cauldron. Read the rest of Carrie Denny’s essay on learning to make her grandmother’s gravy here.

Be smart (or at least sound smart) about wine
After being introduced, via tasting, to the varietal characteristics of the eight major grapes at the Wine School’s Wine 101 class, one Philly Magger begged for a blindfolded taste test: “I’m getting floral barnyard. That’s gotta be a pinot noir. Green pepper and grass? Definitely sauvignon blanc.”
THE TIME: The two-hour intro class gets you the basics; see more advanced programs at vinology.com.
THE TAB: $39.98 for the 101 class.

Do a smoky eye
Own $1,000 worth of makeup and no idea how to apply it? Makeup artist Béke Beau (pronounced “Becky Bo”) offers private lessons in her airy Ardmore studio­—then extends a permanent invite to pop back in for (um) brush-ups should the cat eye/bold lip/apple cheek ever get the best of you again. (Also: Look for bimonthly workshops for ladies 40 and up.)
THE TIME: You’ll get enough know-how in the 90-minute lesson to perfect your technique at home.
THE TAB: The private lessons are $200; three-hour workshops are $75.

Pilot a helicopter
The region’s premier helicopter tour company­, Independence Helicopters, will let you get behind the throttle of its Robinson R22 Betall chopper, should you choose to be so daring. Just remember to duck when de-boarding.­
THE TIME: After 20 minutes of on-the-ground training, you’re ready to take to the skies—with a certified instructor, of course.
THE TAB: $225 for the first lesson. The cost of advanced training varies, and full pilot certification can require more than 60 hours in flight. Not a hobby for the cash-strapped.

Do your own blowout
Blowout 101 at Laurentius Salon: For those who’ve watched countless YouTube videos and still haven’t mastered the round-brush technique and/or those considering a second job to keep them in straight hair.
THE TIME: 90 minutes.
THE TAB: $150.

Can stuff
Pickles, fruit butters, marmalades, chutneys, jellies and, honest to God, the best plum jam you’ve ever eaten: Marisa McClellan has made a career out of putting food in jars. (That’s actually the name of her charming blog: Food in Jars.) Catch her classes all over the place (Greensgrow, Indy Hall, Linvilla), or—even better—have her come to you for a pickle or jam class.
Two to three hours.
THE TAB: Public classes run from about $35 to $60; private lessons/parties are $350.

Kill a chicken
“You’re aiming for right in front of the backbone, at the back of the neck, and then it’s just a small cut forward,” John Hopkins tells me, gesturing with deft hands coated in chicken blood. Such is life (and death) on Orangeville’s Forks Farm, where Hopkins and his wife, Todd, raise about 3,000 chickens a year—one of which I’m clumsily knifing in the neck. Read the rest of Jessica Goldschmidt’s essay about learning to kill a chicken. 

Bake a signature pie
Chef Christina Dimacali of NoLibs’s Clean Your Plate teaches regular group classes, but in order to perfect a specific dish—she’s fielded­ many requests for pies—book her one-on-one. “I teach not just the how but also the why, so that when you’re cooking later on, you’ll know what went wrong—and how to fix it,” she promises.
THE TIME: Unless you’re really a disaster, one three-hour class will do it.
THE TAB: $385 per private lesson.

Read faster
Speed-reading classes­ are surprisingly hard to find these days, but if you’re dying to burn through your emails/novels/newspapers a little (a lot?) faster, you’re in luck: Iris Reading—the country’s largest speed-reading organization—hosts a workshop this month at Center City’s Warwick Hotel, on January 29th.
THE TIME: Five hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
THE TAB: $199.

Even the least artful among us can walk out of Candy Depew’s colorful studio/­showroom with the wherewithal to design and screen-print on both paper (greeting cards! Art prints!) and fabric (t-shirts! Upholstery!). “Fifty percent of my students have set up studios in their homes so they can keep printing,” Depew says. She’ll teach you how to do that, too.
THE TIME: Three two-hour courses.
THE TAB: $225 to $250, including materials.

Drive stick
Ready to (finally) master the art of the clutch? (You never know when it will save the day—or give you a reason to buy a Porsche Boxster.) Do it at Bala Cynwyd’s A Confident Driving School, one of the only area holdouts still teaching manual driving.
THE TIME: Just one two-hour lesson, believe it or not.
THE TAB: $210 per lesson.

Arrange flowers
Sullivan Owen, proprietor of the eponymous Queen Village flower shop, shares her covetable skills in monthly floral-arranging classes based on themes—the season, upcoming holidays, certain flowers or colors—and teaches a simple technique that can be used with lots of different kinds of blooms and vessels.
THE TIME: One three-hour class.
THE TAB: $150 includes all materials and supplies, plus snacks and champagne. Sign up with a friend for 15 percent off.

Have more time to spare? See what you can learn to do in just a few days.