As of November 15, 2017, the TechShop – a world-wide network of Maker spaces – has declared bankruptcy and shut down. This is the second Maker space I’ve belonged to that has gone under in the past few years (the first being the Sawdust Shop).
For those of us living in apartments or smaller homes, these places provided both a physical space for creating as well as a community of fellow woodworkers. Knitters can bring a bag to a coffee shop, artists can bring a sketch book to a park bench, but woodworkers generally need a bench and tools (even hand tools) that are a bit awkward to lug around. Instead of fabric snippets or eraser dust that’s easily cleaned with a broom, we product sawdust and wood chips, the former being a nuisance if inhaled. Hand saws, chisels, clamps… as a bundle these weigh more than can be easily carried in one trip.
On top of losing a workspace, I’ve lost the gathering place of like-minded crafts people. We all grow through the give-and-take of advice and commiserating over mistakes (or “happy little accidents” as the art teacher Bob Ross used to call them).
I’m smack in the middle of building a drafting table for my step-daughter. To add insult to injury, half of my project is locked in a building that’s now in Chapter 7; I’m told we’ll be able to retrieve our possessions at some unspecified future date. I’ll be able to finish it at my dining table, but that’s a bit of an inconvenience to my family. I was planning on starting a jewelry box and another guitar this Autumn, and now I’ll be re-thinking how to establish a studio space at home.
That’s all for now – I just needed a place to share my sorrow. Perhaps later I’ll reflect on the economics of establishing a shared communal space in a high-rent community like the Bay Area.