How to Make a Makerspace: Open Works Baltimore
In the past three years, the Artisan’s Asylum had worked with an amazing bunch of people to bring a new makerspace to Baltimore. This weekend is its grand opening.
by Derek Seabury
The Robert W. Deustch Foundation invests in innovation to improve the quality of life in Baltimore and beyond. They had been looking at new ways to revitalize some of the neighborhoods that have fallen from their heyday. When the idea of a makerspace caught their attention they set out to learn more. One of the people involved was Will Holman who traveled across the country visiting makerspaces and denoting what was and wasn’t working. When they came to Artisan’s Asylum they found that our combination of studio and workspaces led to a vibrancy and diversity of work that was not often found. The plans for Open Works began.
Now three years after first acquiring a 34,000 sq.ft. site in the heart of a historic Baltimore manufacturing district, Open Works is ready to open its doors!
Member Services Director Jess Muise and I were able to stop by and take a look on our way to the White House.
First, we swung by the Station North Tool Library, another RWD Foundation recipient to check out how they were enabling Baltimore. Co-Founder John Shea showed us around and gave some sage advice – if you want to have a tool library expect to repair a lot of weed whackers! We also got to hear from Armin who heads up the Surface Project, a workforce development program that teaches woodworking skills while creating custom tables and counter tops from wood reclaimed from the many renovation projects nearby.
A quick walk across the street and we were in Open Works. Wow. It is really humbling to see the ideas pioneered by so many here applied in a brand new space, or “new Artisan’s Asylum with windows” as I saw it. Open Works has made the most of many of the lessons we have learned to put together a really amazing set of tools and facilities. Starting with backing rather than just through tool donations, they have been able to put together really impressive media, cad, laser, metalwork, wood shop and 3D printing areas (in progress!).
I think I’m jealous– but that’s a lot of windows to clean!
But most exciting, Open Works is proudly featuring their modular version of our studios:
Hopefully they can cultivate the same amazing breadth of talent we enjoy here!
Derek Seabury is the Executive Director and President of the Artisan’s Asylum.