big kids in our space

Melissa

founder & studio owner

Melissa grew up in Guelph and spent a good amount of her childhood playing with her little sister and roaming in the fields and forest behind her house. Melissa attended art school in Kingston and received her BFA at Queen’s University and MFA at the University of Windsor.

The idea for the art factory was born through a combination of her own art school experience and becoming a parent, which led her to create a program for other young children in the community called Toddler Art. The program presented simple art materials to young children in an open-ended, exploratory environment, just like a professional art studio.

The overwhelming positive response from parents and children inspired Melissa to look for a space where she could offer this program full-time. Melissa lives in downtown Guelph with her husband Peter and their three sons, Max, Leopold and Ptolemy.

Favourite art medium: paint

Creative past time: building and painting things

Favourite candy:  swedish berries

Inspiration: young children at play.

Janet

Studio Manager & Art Lab Leader

Janet grew up on a farm north of London and spent much of her childhood exploring outdoors, helping with farm chores, riding in tractors and helping her dad in the shop. Outside of the art factory, She is a Child and Youth counsellor, Registered Psychotherapist, and mother of 3. She studied child and youth work, human services and more recently Art Therapy at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute. She is currently completing her final theoretical research paper.

Janet is passionate about helping others through supportive creative individual work and group programs. She believes in the therapeutic benefits and expressive qualities of art, play, and explorative learning.

When she walked into the Art Factory for the first time she felt at home, inspired by the endless possibilities and the children at play.

Favourite art medium: paint, collage and ink

Creative past time: painting and art journalling

Favourite candy: fun dip

Inspiration: Nature and witnessing others explore creatively. It lights me up to see others deeply immersed in the creative process.

Joy

Playschool  and Program Manager

Small Fry Sewing Society leader

Joy grew up in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. She began sewing and woodworking with her parents as a child, and has never stopped!

Her love of art, children, and helping others led her to earn her Early Childhood Education diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College in 2014. Since then she has been bringing her love of child led learning and passion for play to child care centers, schools, and hospitals both in Nova Scotia and here in Guelph.

At the Art Factory Joy found a place that matches everything she believes in about children and art.  Joy loves being a part of a community that supports and celebrates children and their families. The philosophy of our studio really resonates with her personally and professionally.

Favourite art medium: textiles & watercolour

Creative past time: sewing and painting

Favourite candy: Sour cherries! And gummy bears… and chocolate. I have a sweet tooth!

Inspiration: The children! They have inspired me to take more risks in my own artistic practice and to just enjoy the process without worrying about a perfect finished product. I love being able to support them as they explore and discover their own abilities!

Peter

ChiEf Building Officer

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.

Favourite art medium: wood and all the building tools!

Creative past time: building and cooking

Favourite candy:  chocolate covered almonds

Inspiration & other past times: being a dad & playing video games with his 3 boys. Listening to John Prine.

Christina

Sr. Studio Assistant & Assistant Builder

Baby Basquiat and Frida’s Friends Program Leader

Fun, organized and full of ideas Christina always had a passion for learning through play. She is driven to create engaging environments for children in which they feel inspired and valued.

She earned her ECE diploma in her native Germany is a mother of two, worked as a camp counsellor, in a foster home, various child care centres and as an EarlyOn facilitator.

At CAF Christina leads our Baby Basquait, Frida’s Friends and All by Myself programs.

Favourite art medium: wood

Creative past time:  cross stitching

Favourite candy: gummy bears

Inspiration: children, nature, community and the children’s art factory

The Sock Monkeys

Monkey Business

Forever curious, a bit mischevious and always ready to play the sock monkey’s live in our moonsand kitchen. They enjoy field trips to children’s homes with our mudpie kitchen bin rental! 

Favourite art medium: Moonsand

Creative past time: cooking in the moonsand kitchen

Favourite candy: mudpies 

Inspiration: melissa! She builds the best contraptions for us to play.

studio assistants

Anisa

Favourite art medium: watercolour & oil pastel

Creative past time: making charcuterie boards

Favourite candy:  red licorice

Inspiration & other past times: 

Patti

Favourite art medium: woolcrafts, sewing, pen & ink illustrations

Creative past time: writing, baking & waldorf- based crafts

Favourite candy:  sweet tarts

Inspiration & other past times: Sparking joy in others

Claire

Favourite art medium: Oil paint

Creative past time: writing music

Favourite candy:  red licorice

Inspiration & other past times: nature, friends, and folks in the community