The characteristically creative MakerSphere organization is considering branching out in a new direction that could get more people in the community building and creating.
The nonprofit arts center is circulating an online survey to gauge public interest in a community woodworking shop that would add a third location for MakerSphere activities.
The MakerSphere center on Foundry Street currently offers classes and studio space for local arts and craftspeople. Its satellite location at the Green Mountain Seminary building in Waterbury Center contains its pottery studio and space for children’s classes.
Adding woodworking to its programming would require additional space. “We are currently in negotiations for a new workshop space which would accommodate an adult woodworking workshop and much more,” said Mame McKee, an instructor and leader at MakerSphere.
The survey to gauge interest is key for that planning. McKee said current classes are popular and new offerings would look to run classes with 10 or more participants each in addition to memberships allowing makers to visit regularly to work on projects.
Offering the community woodworking space has been a goal since MakerSphere organized in 2019, McKee said. The addition of a third location will make that possible.
McKee noted that, while the concept is new for Waterbury, other maker facilities around Vermont.
“Maker spaces have cropped up all over the nation in recent years. Vermont has quite a few: The Generator in Burlington; HatchSpace in Brattleboro; The Mint in Rutland; The Makery in Middlebury, and in several more towns. We have been working for more than five years to create one for this community,” McKee said.
Other communities have repurposed former factory buildings. Without many such options in Waterbury, MakerSphere opted for two locations.
The organization’s facilities committee led by instructor Brian Schwartz is planning the new project and is ready to hear from the community regarding details.
Organizers envision offering workshops and tool training for beginners and those looking to learn new skills. Those with more experience may like having access to a shop and membership to use the space regularly.
The survey asks people about their experience levels, what type of skills they may want to learn, the types of projects they would like to do, tools they would like to work with. It suggests a range of topics for classes to gauge interest beyond woodworking as well. Some examples are plumbing repairs, how to weld, printmaking, small engine repair, and video editing.
It also asks about rates people are willing to pay to attend classes or use such a facility regularly, and whether people would be willing to volunteer, give demonstrations, or teach a class as part of their involvement.
MakerSphere organizers are looking to move ahead with plans this year with a goal of having new woodworking space by September, McKee said.
The survey is online on the MakerSphere website’s homepage.