New in the Woo: The WorcShop
Worcester is adding another makerspace with the grand opening of The WorcShop at 234 Stafford St.
Co-founder Randal Gardner said The WorcShop was originally inspired by the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville. Gardner himself is an artist who sculpts with metal and is a business partner at Eternity Ironworks, which creates the functional art of gates and fences. Gardner, along with the WorcShop president and co-founder, Steve Cornie, started renovating part of the factory known as the Blue Hive.
Members are already signing up to participate in this community of creators. The skills and mediums of these individuals are highly diverse, ranging from painting and blacksmithing to jewelry making and even a recording studio, and this is just the beginning, Gardner said. “The types of things that are going to happen here are amazing.”
The 18,000-square-foot facility features spaces that vendors can rent, areas for classes and a massive 12,000-square-foot workshop complete with industrial tools. A blacksmith shop, equipment for the science of measuring known as metrology and a polishing station are just some of the many options that members have at The WorcShop. One of the group’s prized possessions is a rare precision machine that can be used to create molds, car parts and even satellite equipment.
“It’s an entrepreneurial incubator. It’s a business incubator.” But ultimately, Gardner would call this new creative space “a tinker shop.”
The main goal of The WorcShop is to allow artists, creators and inventors of all mediums and backgrounds the ability to “start a business without breaking the bank,” according to Gardner. The monthly membership for the “makerspace” is $100. Vendor spaces are $200. To further promote collaboration and creativity, a community classroom will be available. Classes are open to the public, with members receiving a 25 percent discount. Members also have the opportunity to share their skills with others and receive 20 percent of the revenue by teaching classes themselves. Lockers with showers and bathrooms are also available for member use.
In addition to physical tools and education, The WorcShop also provides members with business resources. Members can display their works on the wall of the lobby, and prospective buyers can come in during regular business hours.
Apart from the monthly membership, vendors keep the revenue they make. Gardner said, “The money they make goes right into their pockets.”
The facility also contains a “Free Store” filled with donations where members can find items. Gardner explained, “It is literally a free store.”
The facility currently has 13 offices and 15 studios, with plans to build 15 more studios. Already, decisions are being made for future expansion, including the addition of a foundry for clay work and pottery.
“I want the place to be funky and artistic,” Gardner said.
A wide variety of vendors and craftspeople already showed their support for The WorcShop by setting up during the grand opening in May. First-time vendor Sarah Schmandt displayed her needle felting and jewelry. She described how art inspires her: “I feel that it boosts my self-esteem and confidence to create something from my own imagination.” Schmandt was also impressed with the various age groups that showed up to the event, from college students to grandparents out with their grandkids.
Crafter Leah L. Guzman also liked the diversity and the sense of community among the artisans. “This is more of a collaborative experience, which I like,” she said. “I love it; it’s been great.”
Eric Rutman, creator of Fogger Art, said he would also set up again. His fluorescent, UV-infused aerosol art requires black lights in order to be seen. He said his artwork received a welcome reception from the other vendors, “[They were] all pretty excited about it because it is something that has never been seen before.”
And perhaps the same can be said for The WorcShop, as excitement grows over the unlimited creative potential that makerspaces are bringing to Worcester.
For more information, visit theworcshop.com or check it out on Facebook.
By Sloane M. Perron