The Alpha Workshops was founded in 1995 in the Chelsea area of Manhattan and modeled on the famed Omega Workshops, the Wiener Werkstätte, the Bauhaus, and the American Arts & Crafts movement. The multi-faceted organization encompasses The Alpha Workshops Studio School (AWSS) and The Alpha Workshops Studios, an award-winning professional design and decorative arts atelier staffed exclusively by AWSS graduates.

The AWSS is the only nonprofit vocational training program in the decorative arts in the state of New York for individuals with visible or invisible disabilities and other vulnerabilities including HIV/AIDS. The AWSS assists adults in reclaiming and refocusing their lives by embracing the powerful healing tools of meaningful work and creative self-expression.

Click to schedule a tour



Licensed by the state of New York, the AWSS provides one vocational program comprised of 2 courses.


Duration: 10 weeks
Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm

Overview: Students will learn fundamental components of surface preparation, color theory, glazing techniques, faux finishes, transfer techniques, plaster and troweling finishes, gilding, stamping, stenciling, and gilding. This course is designed to enable students to see, understand, and analyze the foundational aspects of the decorative arts and the creative process more deeply. Understanding the above elements and principles will help students begin to develop technical skills and concepts. Field trips to museums, show houses, and historic houses may be included in order to provide context for skills learned in the classroom.


Prerequisite Course: Introduction to Decorative Arts (IDA)
Duration: 26 weeks
Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm

Overview: This course is designed with a pre-vocational focus. Coursework emphasizes three primary areas of production: wall treatments/decorative finishes, hand-painted wallpaper, and three-dimensional projects. Students will continue to learn comprehensive decorative techniques and typically explore a different skill each week. Practical skills such as measuring, drawing to scale, calculating square and linear footage, and maintaining professional job etiquette are taught alongside decorative techniques that revisit and build upon elements from IDA. Topics include advanced drawing methods, more complex faux finishes, stamp carving, mold making and casting, wall treatments, Venetian plaster, hand-printed wallpaper design and production, flat design, and color matching. Students execute several in-depth individual projects, including the design and production of unique hand-printed wallpapers, gilding objects, and creating a mold from which bookends, molding sample, or other small objects is cast in plaster. Field trips to cultural institutions and designer installations may be included to further enable students to see the decorative arts in context and gain an understanding of what they can achieve in their career specialty.


Eligibility Requirements

Prior experience in the arts is not required. In order to be eligible for application, you must:

  • Have a disability, defined as any visible or invisible, physical or mental, impairment that results in a substantial impediment to employment;
  • Have a desire for vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure/regain, and retain employment, and can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from the AWSS;
  • Have a high school diploma or GED;
  • Be at least 18 years old.

Application information

For further information and to apply to The Alpha Workshops Studio School: