By Erika Blauch Rusley
From professional photographers to part-time potters, creative people of all stripes are coming together in Maine’s exciting new “maker spaces” and artists’ collectives to share resources, ideas, and inspiration.
Maker spaces are generally facilities with shared studios that come fully equipped for creating a wide array of items, including pottery, furniture, videos, sculptures, and clothing in community with other artisans or makers. Such spaces may include 3D printers, computers, kilns, a dark room, a wood shop, sewing machines, and an etching press under one roof. Other making spaces are specific to one area, such as fiber and textile arts or pottery, and are equipped with the machines and materials needed for that particular craft.
One important aspect of maker spaces is that they are all-inclusive; that is, the doors are open not only to professionals, but to all people who want to create in a community setting. In addition to offering collective long-term studio space, many maker spaces also open their facilities to the general public by offering short-term studio rentals, workshops and events. Some workshops highlight unusual and innovative techniques, such as dyeing fabric and yarn with natural materials, or learning how to make a model using a 3D printer and computer-aided design software; while others focus on fundamental skills, such as using a sewing machine or learning to sketch. And gatherings including author readings, gallery nights, and block parties, invite residents of the surrounding communities to check out the wonderful things being made right in their neighborhoods.
The creative people who call maker spaces home further enrich their communities in a number of ways. They develop locally-made products that can be exhibited or sold at neighboring shops. They draw other creative types to the area and inspire them to open establishments of their own. Finally, they are invested in contributing to the vitality of the neighborhoods in which they are located—Portland’s East Bayside and downtown Biddeford are two examples of areas that have flourished as the result of an influx of energetic people with inspired ideas.
Great things are happening in Maine’s maker spaces. Connect with one in your area and be at the forefront of this new and exciting movement.
Arts collectives & maker spaces near you
A Gathering of Stitches, Portland
Studios and equipment for an array of fiber and textile arts.
Pickwick Independent Press, Portland
A fine art printing facility that encourages collaboration among artists and printmakers.
Running with Scissors, Portland
A studio and exhibition space with a wide range of equipment and a creative community of artists.
Bakery Photographic Collective, Westbrook
A not-for-profit darkroom facility for commercial, fine art, and amateur photographers.
Chases Garage, York
Artist studios and printmaking and ceramic facilities that facilitate both independent work and collaboration.
SHOW AND TELL
Don’t just make something, share it! Mini Maker Faires are fun-filled events designed to bring all sorts of makers together to show examples of their work through hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits. In addition to artists and craftspeople, shortwave radio enthusiasts, LEGO architects, school robotic teams, local foragers, and home brewers are among the many types of makers who participate in Mini Maker Faires. Based on the original Maker Faire, which took place in the Bay Area in 2005, Mini Maker Faires bill themselves as “part county fair, part science fair.” They generally occur in museums, parks, and other community hubs, and are open to the public. At least two such fairs are already scheduled in Maine this year. They both take place September, one in Lewiston and the other in Camden. Visit www.makerfaire.com to look for a fair near you or to start one in your community.