The following nonprofit centers provide studios open to the general public. (Consult a phone directory or the Internet for commercial facilities such as clay studios and woodworking shops, some of which also offer options for open-studio time.) All locations also offer related classes for different ages and skill levels; call for registration information, as courses often fill up early. Sites at community centers are open to nonresidents, but sometimes offer discounts to local residents. Most studios are designed for adult use, but some allow supervised children. Unless otherwise noted, reservations aren't required, although calling ahead to confirm space availability is a good idea. Carefully read and follow posted rules and safety regulations, and be sure to clean up thoroughly. Bring your own materials (such as photographic paper, hand tools, wood pieces and drawing or painting supplies), except as noted.

The District

CAPITOL HILL ARTS WORKSHOP -- 545 Seventh St. SE (Seventh and G streets SE). Metro: Eastern Market. 202-547-6839. This multidisciplinary visual and performing arts educational facility offers the city's only open darkroom, Monday through Friday 9 to 4 and Saturdays 9:30 to 2. Reservations are recommended. Participation requires a $20 base fee per semester (August through December and January through June) and a brief orientation with the photographer in charge. Each visit costs $4 per hour. The black-and-white darkroom includes four enlargers and all chemicals and trays needed for processing. The facility will undergo renovation in January and will reopen in May or June with five more enlargers -- including one that's bigger -- and a computer lab for digital photography.


COLUMBIA ASSOCIATION ART CENTER -- 6100 Foreland Garth, Long Reach Village Center, adjacent to Stonehouse Community Center. 410-730-0075. No Web site. The open darkroom, available for ages 18 and older, generally operates Monday through Friday 9 to 5, and Saturdays and Sundays 1 to 5. Some evening times may be available. Advance reservations are required. Admission is $4.50 per hour. Participants must complete a 30-minute orientation with the department head and sign a contract before using the facilities. The black-and-white darkroom has three enlargers.

GREENBELT COMMUNITY CENTER -- 15 Crescent Rd., Greenbelt. Metro: Greenbelt. 240-542-2061. The Greenbelt Recreation Department holds ongoing open studios for independent work by people ages 16 and older in ceramics, visual arts and photography, and supervised but noninstructional work in stained glass. A quarterly fee, which differs with each discipline, covers unlimited access to a studio when classes aren't in session. People may sign up for the current quarter, which began in September, but must pay the full fee and arrange for an individual orientation. The next quarter starts the first week in January and includes scheduled orientation meetings.

Ceramics Open Studio is daily from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. through Dec. 15 in rooms 304 and 305 and costs $60 for residents, $70 for nonresidents. A 25-pound bag of clay is $15. The facility includes 10 potter's wheels, three electric kilns and some hand tools.

Visual Arts Open Studio runs daily from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. through Dec. 2 in Room 116 and costs $30 for residents, $40 for nonresidents. Participants have access to easels, painting racks, a mat cutter and dry-mount press.

Open Darkroom operates from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. through Dec. 2 in Room 309 and costs $50 for residents, $60 for nonresidents. The facility includes all chemicals needed to process black-and-white prints, several enlargers, a mat cutter and dry-mount press.

Stained Glass Open Studio is Saturdays from noon to 3 through Nov. 20 in Room 116 and costs $25 for residents, $35 for nonresidents. Soldering irons and hand tools are provided.

The center also offers two free, drop-in holiday craft workshops: Dec. 4 from 10 to 2 for ages 6 to 10, salt-dough decorations incorporating Indian sign language, supervision provided; and Dec. 5 from 1 to 3, ages 4 through adult (children must be accompanied), artwork for the Greenbelt New Year festival.

HOWARD COUNTY CENTER FOR THE ARTS -- 8510 High Ridge Rd., Ellicott City. 410-313-2787. Two ongoing, drop-in drawing/painting sessions at this Howard County Arts Council facility feature live models. Tuesdays from 11 to 2, a clothed model maintains the same pose for four straight classes to allow for detailed portrait drawing and painting. The fee is $7 per session or $35 for six sessions, payable to the monitor. A life drawing/painting session, for ages 18 and older, takes place Tuesdays from 7:30 to 10 p.m., at which a nude model holds the same pose for four consecutive classes. The fee is $10 per session or $54 for six sessions, payable to the monitor. Easels are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

PHOTOWORKS -- Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-229-7930. This learning center's studio in the former amusement park's new Arcade building offers a drop-in open darkroom Sundays from 1 to 8 and Mondays from 9 to 3. Participants must be at least 12 years old and have some darkroom experience. The $7 hourly fee includes use of all equipment for black-and-white developing and printing. Facilities include a 12-person printing room, two film developing rooms, and a dry-mount and matting area. New visitors receive an orientation.

ROCKVILLE ARTS PLACE -- 9300 Gaither Rd., Gaithersburg. Metro: Shady Grove. 301-869-8623. While its new permanent building is under construction in Rockville, this 17-year-old community art organization is offering programs in a new, temporary location. The center features open studios, generally for adults, in four disciplines: ceramics, glass, life drawing and photography. Reservations are recommended.

Open Ceramics Studio runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 2:30 and Saturdays from 12:30 to 5. Students enrolled in on-site ceramics classes each receive a five-hour pass; non-students pay $60 for a five-hour pass or $90 for a 10-hour pass. The fee includes glazing; firing costs an additional per-cubic-inch fee, currently being determined by the art center's staff. Center members receive a 10 percent discount. (An annual membership is $40 per individual, $60 per family or $25 per teenager or senior.) Visitors can buy clay, $12 for 25 pounds, or bring their own clay suitable for firing up to cone 6 (a device used for measuring the amount of heat absorbed during the firing process). The studio has eight electric wheels and one old-fashioned kick wheel, operated by a manual foot pedal.

Open Glass Studio usually takes place twice a month, with upcoming sessions scheduled for Sunday and Dec. 12 from 9 to noon and 1 to 4, and Dec. 15 from 10 to 1. The fee of $25, or $45 for two sessions on the same day, includes use of all equipment and help from an instructor. A new per-cubic-inch firing fee is being determined by center's staff. Glass is available for purchase at varying prices.

Open Figure Drawing Studio, featuring a live nude model in an extended pose, is Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. through Dec. 15, with no class on Nov. 24. The fee is $10 per session, or $40 for a five-session advance-purchase pass, $70 for a 10-session advance-purchase pass. The studio accommodates up to 15 artists.

Open Darkroom, available on a first-come, first-serve basis, takes place Tuesdays from 10 to 2, Wednesdays from 5:30 to 9:30, Saturdays from 10 to 5 and Sundays from 1 to 5. Hourly passes are $40 for five hours, $70 for 10 hours and $120 for 20 hours. The darkroom features seven stations, with enlargers that measure up to 16-by-20 inches. Participants have access to all developing supplies and chemicals, dryers and a finishing area with mat cutters and dry mounting. An iMac computer lab accommodates digital photographers.


AUDREY MOORE RECENTER -- 8100 Braddock Rd., Annandale. 703-321-7082. Operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, this recreation center offers monitored open pottery labs and open photography labs for ages 6 and older.

The Pottery Lab is open Mondays from 9:30 to 12:30, Fridays from 9:30 to 12:30 and 7 to 10, and Sundays from 1 to 5. The lab closes on holidays. The fee is $4 an hour or $30 for a 12-hour pass for students, $45 for non-students. Clay costs $16 for 25 pounds.

The Black-and-White Photography Lab is open Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 and Saturdays from 1 to 4. The fee is $4 per hour or $35 for a 10-hour lab pass. Participants also must pay a $4 chemical fee. The facility features six 4-by-5 enlargers; 50mm, 90mm and 135mm lenses; polycontrast filters; processing trays up to 11-by-14 inches; and adjustable 11-by-14 printing easels.

RESTON COMMUNITY CENTER AT HUNTERS WOODS VILLAGE CENTER -- 2310 Colts Neck Rd., Reston. 703-476-4500. Photographers and woodworkers can use supervised open labs at Reston's original community center.

The Open Photo Lab, for use by all ages, is available for black-and-white developing Tuesdays from 6 to 10, Thursdays from 1 to 5, and the first, third and fifth Saturday and Sunday of the month from 1 to 5. Color developing takes place the second and fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month from 1 to 5, and the Monday following a color weekend from 5:30 to 9:30. The lab will be closed Jan. 15 and 16, Feb. 19 and 20, and May 28 and 29. Reservations are required. The fee is $7 per two-hour session for those who live or work in Reston, $9 for nonresidents. The darkroom offers six enlargers, including three for color prints. Photographers can develop 35mm, 2 1/4 and 4-by-5 format film. Dry-mount equipment also is available.

The center's drop-in Open Woodshop, open to ages 18 and older or children accompanied by a parent, takes place Tuesdays from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 to 5 and costs $5 per visit for Reston residents and employees, $7 for nonresidents. The woodshop will be closed on Jan. 15, Feb. 19 and May 28. Equipment includes a lathe; scroll, band, table, compound mitre and radial arm saws; spindle, regular and flat sanders; and a joiner, router, biscuit joiner, drill press, goggles, earplugs, dust masks and wood glue. The work space accommodates up to 12 people. Shellacking and other coated finishing is not permitted because of inadequate ventilation.

RESTON COMMUNITY CENTER AT LAKE ANNE -- 1609-A Washington Plaza, Reston. 703-476-4500. The new Reston Community Center's Open Ceramics Studio, for ages 13 and older, is open Wednesdays from 10 to 2 and Saturdays from 1 to 5. The studio will close March 23 through 26 for annual maintenance and will reopen March 30. The fee, including firing and glazes, is $10 per visit for those who live or work in Reston, $15 for nonresidents. A 12-hour pass costs $30 for residents, $45 for nonresidents. Clay, which must be bought on site, costs $10 for 25 pounds. Equipment includes eight wheels and two electric kilns, and table space for hand building. In addition to basic tools, participants should bring old towels or sponges for cleanup.

THOMAS JEFFERSON COMMUNITY CENTER ART STUDIOS -- 3501 S. Second St., Arlington. 703-228-5925. No Web site. Open studios at this Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources facility feature pottery, photography, jewelry making and woodworking for drop-ins on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participants must have previous experience. Experienced teenagers may be permitted in the pottery studio and darkroom. Pottery and photography open studios take place Mondays from 9 to 12:30, 1:30 to 5 and 6 to 9:30; Wednesdays from 6 to 9:30; and, mid-September to mid-May, Saturdays from 1:30 to 5. Jewelry making occurs Mondays from 6 to 9:30. Woodworking is Wednesdays from 6 to 9:30 and, mid-September to mid-May, Saturdays from 1:30 to 5. The fees for all workshops are $8 per 3 1/2-hour time block for residents, $10 for nonresidents. Passes for 15 sessions cost $90 for residents, $120 for nonresidents. Clay costs $10 per 25-pound bag, and sets of basic hand tools for clay cost $11.

The Pottery Studio features 12 electric wheels, a slab roller and about a dozen glazes. Three electric kilns fire to cone 6.

A studio technician monitors the Jewelry-Making Studio, which accommodates 12 people and features, for silversmithing, a flex shaft, rolling mills for rolling out silver, bench shears, a polishing machine and acetylene torch stations. For the ancient jewelry-making practice of lost wax casting, which uses a wax model to create an identical design in silver, the studio provides flasks, investment materials, a hot wax injector, hand tools and a burn-out kiln.

The Photography Studio includes a black-and-white darkroom with 10 enlargers, a dry-mounting press and space to develop and print your own film. Supply your own filters and dust removers, in addition to paper. Toning is not permitted because of inadequate ventilation.

A large, supervised Woodshop houses a lathe, table saw, radial arm saw, band saw, drill press, various hand and power tools, and safety goggles. The studio accommodates 10 to 12 people.

-- Mary Jane Solomon

During open-studio times, visitors to Rockville Arts Place in Gaithersburg can use the center's resources to work on ceramic projects, at left, and other creative endeavors. Darren Haliniewski, above left, uses a sand blaster on his work, and Norman Carr, above right, develops photographs.