about us

Our Philosophy

Founded in Guelph in 2011, Children’s Art Factory (CAF) is a pioneer in current children’s programming.

We value and encourage collaboration with children over instruction.

Young children are natural artists and innovators. Children’s Art Factory strives to provide opportunities for young children to explore the world around them by harnessing their innate curiosity with hands-on activities to challenge and inspire them.

We believe that children engage in critical thinking and learn how to become problem solvers when they are allowed to work within very clear parameters – but with complete freedom – with basic art materials.

Our studio fosters and harnesses this creativity by providing a variety of open-ended art and creativity stations that stimulate a child’s imagination and curiosity, and empower them to be in control of their own learning.

Studies have shown that unstructured, open-ended play fosters cooperation, independence, social engagement and creates a sense of belonging. We share many of the same philosophies of innovative play-based and outdoor pre-schools, yet we are not a daycare. We believe that children are more relaxed, confident and therefore feel comfortable to take more risks when there is a trusted caregiver close-by. We have found parents are also more relaxed in allowing the children to get messy in an environment that makes it safe to do so.

The art experiences provided by CAF create long-lasting impact on children’s development and self-esteem. Our studio benefits the community by advocating for our youngest residents by providing and creating spaces where children’s creativity and innovative thinking is nourished and encouraged.

Children’s Art Factory is truly as unique as the pieces of art created here.

We hope you and your children will come and create in our space soon.

we believe…

In the process, not the product.

Creativity cannot be taught, it can only blossom. And it blossoms through play.

In the beautiful mess created by children with the time and agency to bask in the productive joy of their own making.

All children are artists.

All children are gifted.

Discovering who you are is usually messy and loud. (Quiet and methodical are just fine too!)

Every child needs space and materials and the quieting of adult voices to make their own sense of the world.

True innovative art never comes from pre-cut circles and step-by-step directions.

Children do not need to be bothered with learning all the names of every paint colour. They just need to paint.

Children can create so much more than a painted handprint.

The best way to keep a child safe is to keep a close eye AND give them the world with all its tiny bits and sharp edges.

Children deserve space to explore expected and unexpected art and materials before choosing one to master.

If you create an environment that fosters creativity, children will do the rest.

Germs can be beneficial.

Children are great teachers.

Children have an aesthetic.

Children need at least one place where it’s the adults whose bodies aren’t quite the right size.

Children would rather tell people about their painting than have it proclaimed nice or good.

Children who are deeply engaged in play should not be bothered.

big kids in our space

Melissa Mazar

Founder

As with all inspiring works, Children’s Art Factory was a natural progression of Melissa’s own creative roving.

As a child, her home was filled with reams of paper and time, and in the yard, a handmade climbing gym and sandbox and… every child in a two block radius.

After the first of her three sons was born, Melissa found herself offering him flour so he could pour and funnel. She brought him panels of wood to paint and let him squish around, producing a spectacular mess like a proper artist.

Her mentor at Queen’s University, the painter Otis Tamasauskas, had taught her to throw out all the rules and innovate herself, and she wanted to pass this on, especially to her sons.

During the development of her popular Toddler Art program at the Guelph Public Library something clicked. She especially loved to set up the post office made entirely from cardboard, with slots, mail, and mailbags.

It brought in dozens of families, and has since become infamous in local parenting circles. To watch the kids come in notably vibrating by what lay ahead – but waiting for instruction – was a moment she always relished. The big reveal. There was no instruction!

Peter Coleman

Chief Tinkerer and Builder

Truly behind-the-scenes and compulsively curious, Peter knows a little bit about a lot of things.

He likes to tinker and modify. A short time after his wife, Melissa, opened the Children’s Art Factory – when a wooden puppet theatre needed filigree – Peter found himself at Guelph’s Diyode, the non-profit DIY dream-space full of tools, with a laser cutter that would change the face of their little art studio.

“Melissa’s the artist. No one can do what she does,” he says.

But he’s the master craftsman behind it, producing gnome homes, castles, figures and creatures, and all of the studio installations and rent-ables.

He splits his time between Children’s Art Factory and the Bookshelf (where he’s also quietly indispensable).

go behind-the-scenes at CAF!