Craft Makerspaces

Page 1

14th annual Craft Think Tank

Craft Makerspaces

Center for Craft UNC Asheville Asheville, North Carolina November 2017


Except otherwise noted, this report is © 2018 The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Inc. It is issued under a Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike license: by-sa/3.0 Facilitation and report: From—Now—On

Craft, in all its forms, demonstrates creativity, ingenuity, and practical intelligence. It contributes to the economic and social wellbeing of communities, connects us to our cultural histories, and is integral to building a sustainable future."

Photography: Jennifer Cole Images

Center for Craft

Although we have made every effort to ensure that the information in this report was correct at point of completion, we do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

“A place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. A makerspace is equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, various milling devices, and more.”

This Craft Think Tank and publication was made possible, in part, by the University of North Carolina Asheville and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to project leaders Brent Skidmore, Mike Marcus, and Marilyn Zapf for their role in conceptualizing and organizing this year's Craft Think Tank and the creative consultancy From—Now—On for facilitating the convening, compiling and designing the publication.


"Craft is a particular approach to making with a strong connection to materials, skill, and process. Artists, makers, scholars, and curators continue to grow the field, embracing new definitions, technologies, and ideas while honoring craft's history and relationship to the handmade.

Top hit for search term “What is a makerspace?” January 2018

Welcome Since 2002, the Center for Craft has hosted an annual Craft Think Tank to identify and prioritize initiatives that advance the field of craft. These discussions have resulted in groundbreaking publications and programs that have become milestones in the development of the field of craft. The Journal of Modern Craft (2008-present) and Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (2010) serve as the first peer-reviewed craft journal and the first comprehensive survey of studio craft in the United States, respectively. Other formative programs include the Craft Research Fund (2002-present), the largest funding source for craft research in the United States, and the development of the first masters-level program in craft studies (forthcoming 2017).1 When UNC Asheville approached the Center about a joint Craft Think Tank, it was a natural fit. The two institutions have a deep history, dating back to the Center’s founding as a public service center of UNC Asheville’s system in 1996. Since then the two have partnered in various ways, most recently through the Entrepreneur’s Workshop, an all-in-one ecosystem bringing together business resources and training programs to support makers and students in the region of western North Carolina. The recent launch of UNC Asheville’s innovative makerspace, STEAM Studio, set the stage for developing content.2 STEAM Studio brings together makers, engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs to work side-by-side in a state of the art facility. The university’s interest in and commitment to cross-disciplinary approaches provided the entrée for a Craft Think Tank devoted to mapping and understanding the role of craft in a makerspace setting.


The Center for Craft and UNC Asheville convened the special topic Craft Think Tank in Asheville, North Carolina, November 16 - 18, 2017. This intimate gathering brought together a select group of national and international experts across disciplines. London-based cultural consulting agency From Now On facilitated the convening; their previous work on the cultural role of makerspaces made them an ideal choice to lead the conversation. The convening was partially funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation entitled "University of North Carolina Asheville: Leading the Public Arts and Humanities in the City of Asheville." The Center for Craft and UNC Asheville are excited to share the outcomes of this powerful convening. We hope the findings will inspire the further integration of craft into makerspaces worldwide.

Stephanie Moore Executive Director Center for Craft


Joseph R. Urgo Interim Chancellor UNC Asheville


Attendees included experts in the fields of craft and makerspaces. -E leanor Annand, Resident Artist, Penland School of Crafts -D aniel Charny, (Facilitator), Director, From Now On -A nnet Couwenberg, Fiber Faculty, Maryland Institute College of Art -A lma Daskalaki, Innovation Manager, Crafts Council, UK -N ettrice Gaskins, SCOPES-DF Program Manager, Fab Foundation - Mike Marcus, Assistant Director, Creative Placemaking and Property Development, Center for Craft - Nick Moen, Founder and Creative Director, The Bright Angle - Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, Center for Craft - Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Statewide Project Manager, California Community Colleges Maker Initiative; CACT Director, Sierra College -S usan Reiser, Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean of Natural Sciences, UNC Asheville -S ara Sanders, Engineering Design Studio and Lab Manager, STEAM Studio, UNC Asheville -S tephanie Santoso, Senior Program Fellow, Infosys Foundation USA; Former Senior Advisor for Making, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy -B rent Skidmore, Associate Professor of Art & Art History and Public Arts and Humanities Chair, UNC Asheville - J oshua G. Stein, Founder, Radical Craft; Co-director, Data Clay Network; Professor of Architecture, Woodbury University -M arilyn Zapf, Assistant Director, Programs and Curator, Center for Craft The Craft Think Tank further benefited from contributions from Liz Corbyn, PhD Student in Material Culture, University College London, Dee Halligan, Director, From Now On, and Justin Marshall, Associate Professor of Design, Northumbria School of Design, UK.



November 18, 2017: Think Tank participants explored critical issues which might drive, or benefit from, new formats and programmes.


Introduction This report follows the structure of the Craft Think Tank. The first session explored the landscape of craft makerspaces. It mapped the many factors that could influence craft makerspace initiatives, from types of users, to policy and tools. Read about them on pages 9-15. In the second session, participants speculated about the emerging issues which, in the future, are likely to impact the success of craft makerspaces. See the map of these uncertainties on pages 17-18. Finally, participants used this content and their expertise to build hypothetical models of what a future craft makerspace could be. Review their efforts and what they learned on pages 19-23. This report concludes with a capture of learnings and reflections. Each new space that opens will support or disprove these thoughts. See how right, or wrong, they got it on pages 24-26.

Session 1 - The landscape Pages 9-15

Session 2 - The future Pages 17-18

Session 3 - The findings Pages 19-26


The landscape Exploring the potential for craft makerspaces. The Craft Think Tank offered an opportunity to take the idea of what a craft makerspace is back to point zero. Throughout the two-day program, participants explored the opportunities that could prove transformational, and the constraints that might limit potential. The following extracts, taken from talks given by the Craft Think Tank’s expert panel, identify and unpack some of the central issues which will influence any craft makerspace initiative.







Craft Makerspace


Funding models Global networks



Marilyn Zapf on the context of contemporary craft in the United States. Traditional craft spaces: Studio Workshop

There are four trends worth considering, regarding craft in the US. Firstly, new materials, digital tools, and practices have been accepted within the craft field.



Craft school

Lastly, craft educators are taking an interest in the application of craft outside of the field of art, and questioning what unique or transferrable skills craft can offer.

Secondly, craft and designer-maker entrepreneurship have had a recent resurgence, especially in western North Carolina, where this is happening for a number of socioeconomic reasons.

For example, Nathan Lynch, a ceramics professor at California College of Arts, has been looking at textile waste in denim manufacturing with his students, and exploring the potential for a new kind of ceramic material.

Also, social practice has become a really big movement. Instead of looking for the precedent of social practice in the history of art, we’re looking at it through the history of craft, which has a long history of being involved in this kind of activity.

This sort of thing is happening all over the place. At the Center for Craft, we've just launched the second year of our Materials-Based Research Grants scheme, which partners craft artists with scientists, engineers, or mathematicians to develop new research.


Sara Sanders on technology and tools in makerspaces. What tools to include in a makerspace depends on who's going to use them, the context in which they will be used, and the quantities and types of materials to be processed. People focus on the split between machines that offer the possibility for production and reproducibility, and tools for one-off handwork. But actually that’s not the point; they’re both part of a process. Rarely does something come out of the CNC machine ready

to go. There’s going to be some hand processing. Digital and handwork go in tandem. There’s purpose of use to consider too; multiples of a machine are necessary to teach classes. And there's infrastructure. Do you need to have compressed air, water, fume extraction, or a clean space for a computer lab for digitally controlled machines? These things take up a lot of space and resources.


Liz Corbyn on the importance of materials. Our reason for wanting to start the Institute of Making (London, UK) was to bring materiality to the foreground of how people understand their everyday lives.3 We’d like to see a shared intelligence of the value of materials, their preciousness, and their scarcity. We want people to understand what their desks, streets - and so on - are made of, and develop a more human relationship with these materials through craft, fine art, engineering, and tinkering. And we want to understand the properties of these materials, and how they behave in order to recalibrate the way we make and consume things.

The Institute of Making makerspace works to bring people together: material scientists, engineers, designers, and end users. We're not going to achieve our goals if we don't all work together to share expertise, collaborate, and communicate. Makerspaces are well positioned to facilitate this type of communication. However, makerspaces are dominated by low barrier materials like wood and plastics, and digital fabrication tools like 3D printing or CNC machines. Materials such as ferrous metals, glass, clay, and stone are rare in makerspace environments. We need to work towards a greater variety of materials if we want to become more intelligent about materiality. 11


Carol Pepper-Kittredge on new learning environments. Our project, the California Community Colleges Maker Initiative, is the first statewide initiative to accelerate the use of makerspaces in community colleges.4 We want to create empowered students who can design their own educational experiences. The number one value of the project is community. A room of tools is important, but it's just a room of tools. The most important component is connecting and learning from each other. There are a number of ways we want to achieve this. We don’t have time constraints. Kids can get into the makerspaces 24/7; whatever they can’t finish in the classroom with the professor, they can continue later. We’re focused on curriculum, and changing what and how we teach. Often university makerspaces are housed in colleges of engineering; we’re looking at how we can “mashup” funds, space, and member roles. Lastly, we want to connect students to real world employers. There are limits; unlike universities, college faculty is paid to teach, not to research, so how do we propel faculty to teach in new and different ways? 12

Above all, we feel there’s an incredible opportunity for social justice and equity. We're not there yet; who is in makerspaces has been discussed and criticized a lot. But it’s a young field. We have some really interesting challenges and opportunities ahead of us.


Alma Daskalaki on the multiple meanings of innovation. Innovation can mean new applications of tools and processes. It can mean economic growth. At the Crafts Council (UK) we refer to innovation in and through craft. We also study cross-sector innovation between craft and other disciplines, and research the drivers and barriers that facilitate and get in the way of this. Last year we commissioned KPMG to report on the economic value of craft in other industries and sectors, and they found that craft skills and knowledge could drive economic growth.5 In certain sectors like high-value manufacturing and biotechnology, we see huge opportunities where the characteristics of craft are fused with technology and industry 4.0. We want to use our research to see how we can go from happy accidents – at the moment these cross-sector collaborations happen in a very ad hoc way – to something more strategic.

Policy Stephanie Santoso on the impact of national policy. Under the Obama Administration, the Nation of Makers initiative focused on broadening access to the grassroots Maker Movement in order to create more opportunities for students to engage students in hands-on learning across disciplines, facilitate community-based problem solving, foster entrepreneurship, and encourage advanced manufacturing.6 This has led to a variety of stakeholders, from federal agencies and local governments to school districts, libraries, museums, universities, community colleges, foundations, and companies, working together to reach these goals. Members of the Congressional Maker Caucus have recently introduced legislation that would empower more individuals with the experiences, tools, technologies, and resources to bring their ideas to life.7 The MORE Makerspaces Act would enable federal agencies to lease or sell abandoned or unused federal civilian real property for use as a makerspace; The SHOP

CLASS Act would amend the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to support maker education and makerspaces; The Public Library Innovation Spaces Act would enable the Institute for Museum and Library Services to provide $10 million in grants for makerspaces in public libraries. Makerspaces can help to facilitate the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration that is needed in solving important problems.. Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development was an open competition aimed at re-designing the personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, which had not been innovated upon in years.8 One of the winning teams included Jill Andrews, a wedding dress designer who worked with several scientists and engineers. Sometimes it is difficult for individuals to understand how their skills and experiences might be transferable from one field or industry to another, and may prove to be incredibly valuable in a different context.


Global networks


Makerspaces are a global phenomenon. There are around 3,000 active and planned worldwide, even as the search continues for a sustainable funding model.

Four or five years ago, I was part of a group of people who set up a small, craft makerspace in connection with a university in Falmouth, UK, to focus on what digital culture could offer artists, researchers, and entrepreneurs.11

Daniel Charny on global networks, cities and makerspaces.

1,200 of these spaces are FabLabs.9 Founded in 2001 at MIT, the FabLab network shares values and knowledge, in order to progress sustainability agendas. The FabLabs led to a Fab Academy, and more recently Fab City with a mission for “local production, global connection.”10 Makerspaces once tended to be grassroots but, in the search for sustainability, they are now often affiliated with national or local government, commercial, or third sector organizations. New models are emerging from universities, libraries, and museums. Hackerspaces tend to be more independent, but are often widely networked and also part of this fluid international conversation. One flaw in this picture relates to representation. From gender to income levels, there are significant issues around who's in the room, and how the maker movement aligns this against their declared values of openness, accessibility, and community.


Justin Marshall on his experience of funding models.

We wanted to try and extend our kind of research and be part of a wider knowledge exchange. There are things that need to be considered when you move from a research focused space – like the one we had, where there was an exploratory, playful engagement with tools and technologies – to something that's about public access. As well as things like health and safety, you also need to consider what your funder is expecting to get out of the project. We were faced with a rigid set of targets which had to be hit for us to maintain our funding, and this shifted our focus to design and innovation. The main thing I learned from running that space was you can easily become hostage to fortune, and find you are not doing what you truly wanted to do. Having your goals in line with your funding criteria is really important. And you need to know what craft is good at and for, and make sure people - both users and funders - understand.


Mike Marcus on who uses craft makerspaces. Fundamental to any craft makerspace initiative is the question of who the users are, or will be. Some broader research on this subject reveals that most self-identified makers are male, well educated, and well paid. The crafts demographic trends towards female, well educated, and under compensated. According to Make Magazine, only 17% of makerspace users self identify as the kind of “leading edge� makers that attract funding and media attention.12 Many more identify as hobbyists, and hold multiple broad interests. In order to address - and work with - the issues revealed in these findings, we need to take a more interventionist position. These are some questions and issues anyone who is about to begin a craft makerspace initiative needs to consider.

Potential craft makerspace users 1. Best practices: Research best practices and lessons learned from existing makerspace communities and craft communities. 2. Defining your purpose: Focus on your purpose and desired benefit, whether furthering the field or social impact. 3. Knowing your market: Who are you for? Here are some prompts to assist with this process: Context Who and where are they?

Focus What do they want to do?

Level What support do they need?


The future

What emerging issues will shape how we conceive of, or operate, craft makerspaces going forward? Our world is changing. To fulfill their potential, craft makerspaces need to proactively engage with and respond to their changing context. Attendees considered the important factors that need to be taken into consideration.


-C hildren’s educational needs in relation to changing lifestyles and work -H ow achievement is understood and assessed -R elationship between technology and learning -N etworked learning and exchange of skills across different networks - I nfluence of virtual reality and artificial intelligence on the learning experience -S hifts in the funding landscape - L ifelong learning

Technology, digital communications, and systems

- Greater understanding and integration of digital tools into people's lives - Automation and further shifts in production and distribution models - Digital environments and networked objects - Tensions between digital skills and manual dexterity - Decline in understanding of materials - Differences in access to technology across social groups - Knowledge exchange e.g. libraries of digital objects - New synthetic materials - Artificial Intelligence - Technology’s relationship to the body itself 16

The future

Social and societal trends

- Demographic and population change, locally and globally - Different conception of work due to automation - Resultant changes to income levels and leisure time - Mobilization of people in search of work - Changes in climate causing displacement of people - Disconnect of people, physically or emotionally, from their cultures and communities - Social and cultural influence of digital environments and wearable technologies - Changing consumer culture due to democratization of manufacturing - Changes to ownership - Institutions responding to changes in society e.g. prisons, colleges - Changes to role, and sizes, of cities - Decline in hand skills

Commercial, organizational institutional change

Environment, resources, materials, infrastructure

- Material and resource scarcity - Increase in natural disasters and weather events - New materials and new ways to manufacture these new materials - Innovation in bio and nature field e.g. biomimetics - Responsive infrastructure

- Consolidation of companies and organisations - more big companies -M ore control by institutions -N ew partnerships and new models of working in smaller institutions - F ocus on identity and immigration status reflected in border controls and regulatory control of people - Shifts in global power structures in favour of companies above governments -N ew currency and trade models



The findings

Modelling possible futures. If the Craft Think Tank had restricted itself to thinking for two days, little progress would have been made. Instead, the sessions culminated in a propositional exercise: the modelling of future scenarios for craft makerspaces. Using the briefings and conversations as fuel, participants considered a wide range of possible future scenarios, examining what benefits a craft makerspace of the future could deliver. The teams were asked to answer the following questions to build a model of a hypothetical future craft makerspace: - Who will come to it? - Why will they come? - What will they do while they're there? - How long will they stay? - How often will they come back? - What is it known for? - What's the high point of a day/week/year? - What's the financial model? Building the models was revelatory. The groups built a Political Party which might "foment revolution," a Factory which was a town in itself, a Community Center which was the "busy community living room" and a Theme Park which would immerse families in material culture. While speculative, each clearly communicated the purpose, benefits, and potential of the craft makerspace. These models became the foundation for a tentative typology of craft makerspaces.


Toward a speculative typology Craft makerspaces will combine craft sensibilities and 21st century making. Through the building of speculative models, the Craft Think Tank participants explored the benefits a craft focus in a makerspace has the potential to deliver. They identified eight areas where craft could drive, improve, or accelerate outcomes: A - Activism for systemic or societal change B - Research and development C - Community and collaboration D - Learning for personal development E - Craft heritage F - Retail or tourist attraction G - Learning for professional skills or entrepreneurship H - Tools and technology No makerspace has a single focus, rather they combine sympathetic activities to deliver their purpose; a further mapping exercise rationalised this exploration, thinking about what types of spaces might evolve to convert this potential to reality. For example a focus on research and development combines well with professional skills. This is the basis for the first type: The Lab. A typology of seven craft makerspaces emerged, outlined in the following pages. Which of these could survive and thrive depends on circumstance - on the landscape it grows out of and the future it is part of. Clarity of purpose, agility, and resilience are the only certain central features of any successful model.


How to use the typology The radial diagrams are built of possible areas of focus, with the outer ring indicating the highest interest. Each type is formed of a combination of these possibilities. The typology is useful for anyone who is building a makerspace offer, and considering how craft might support their purpose, proposition or business model. Through thinking about a type

rather than a set of activities, it's easier to imagine how a space comes to life, from how it might be staffed, to what partnerships it might forge. The typology comes with a caveat; while it's grounded in, and shaped by, the considerable knowledge and expertise of the Think Tank participants, it's a provocation not a roadmap, to be used with care.

Activism for systemic or societal change Community and collaboration

Research and development

Learning for personal development

Tools and technology

Learning for professional skills or entrepreneurship

Craft heritage

Retail or tourist attraction

Type 1 - The Lab The rich material knowledge, iterative processes, and collaborative values of craft make it an ideal route to introduce the unexpected in cross-disciplinary partnerships and collaboration with industry. 21







Key A -A ctivism for systemic or societal change B - Research and development C - Community and collaboration D - Learning for personal development E - Craft heritage F - Retail or tourist attraction G - Learning for professional skills or entrepreneurship H - Tools and technology


Type 2 - The Catalyst Craft is a field ripe with opportunity to explore, propose, and campaign for change. Access to tools combined with craft traditions progresses individual and community empowerment and equity.


Type 3 - The Living Room Spaces of making have a history of bringing people together. Craft and making can anchor a supportive program that combines personal development with life skills and professional skills.

Type 4 - The Studio Craft has a rich relationship with the sensory and emotional side of making. Individual creative expression and emotion can drive both personal development and stimulate innovation.

Type 5 - The Theme Park Spaces which house making offer the potential for pleasurable and compelling experiences, whether focused on the visual theatre of fabrication or hands on activity.

Type 6 - The Library Traditional craft practice shouldn’t be overlooked as a source of inspiration, interest and stimulus. In combination with the cutting edge sensibilities of makerspaces, there is potential for the craft makerspace to deliver a compelling and outward looking program.

Type 7 - The Hub The combination of high-level craft, advanced technology and contemporary business skills is an exciting proposition. The presence of craft in this mix feels distinctive and contemporary, and presents an opportunity for meaningful innovation. 23

Learnings and reflections

Craft makerspaces have distinct potential. The Craft Think Tank provided the time, space, and framework to consider the impact of craft on makerspaces, and vice versa, and reflect on some key questions: What new opportunities do makerspaces provide for craft? What benefits can craft sensibilities bring to the maker movement and makerspaces? And what other benefits might be delivered through an exchange? In preliminary conversations on the subject, participants discussed a sense of common heritage as well as common cause. Makerspaces have much in common with traditional spaces for craft, including studios, workshops, and classrooms. Makerspaces share many of the current interests and preoccupations of craft, from tools and technologies to funding models. And all spaces are having to adapt to a dynamic and changing world. What craft in particular might offer in this context was referenced often: - Care and careful making - Practice based innovation - Craft processes and deep material knowledge - Artistic and personal expression - Lower barriers to access making - Community and social inclusion - A conduit to local heritage and traditions The combination of these factors with the ethos, sensibilities, and tools found in makerspaces was seen as “amazing fuel for innovation�. But why?



It was felt that the combination provided a link between seemingly antithetical activities. Craft was seen as having the potential to bring humanity into the mix - infusing innovation with the human hand, increasing diversity, addressing questions of gender balance and inclusivity. Craft practice involves a heightened awareness of material intelligence and sustainable material flows, and this opens up whole new areas of activity. The typology of spaces outlined is tentative but it already suggests how these opportunities might be used to deliver benefit to individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions.

5 key benefits of craft makerspaces - Leveraging new knowledge for business and academic research - Bridging craft and startup cultures - Accelerating interdisciplinary exchange - Improving gender diversity - Powering new and effective types of problem solving 26

Barriers were also identified to uniting craft and makerspaces. Sector-specific language and terminology is evidence not just of different cultures but also of diverse values. Working practices, such as teaching norms, or structures to manage new equipment within new systems, will be challenging. But the benefits will be significant. In leveraging new knowledge for business and academic research, makerspaces could deliver new opportunities for the field of craft to progress, from connecting to startup cultures, to increasing the exchange of knowledge. Greater than this again would be the opportunity to bring different types of people and skills together and through this interdisciplinary effort power a new and effective type of problem solving.

References 1 - Research Grants at the Center for Craft 2 - STEAM Studio at UNC Asheville 3 - The Institute of Making at University College London 4 - C alifornia Community Colleges Maker Initiative

5 - KPMG report on Innovation through Craft, from the Crafts Council UK 6 - Nation of Makers SHOP CLASS Act http:// w 7 - MORE Makerspaces Act 8 - Public Library Innovation Space Act. 9 - FabLabs 10 - Fab City Global 11 - Falmouth Craft Makerspace 12 - Makers research by Make Magazine


About The Center for Craft Founded in 1996, the Center for Craft is a national 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the field of craft through fostering new ideas, funding craft scholarship, and backing the next generation of makers, curators and critics. The Center has developed a strong national reputation as a significant resource for artists, museums, academic researchers, university students and arts organizations. Each year, the Center administers over a quarter million dollars in grants to those working in the craft field.

About UNC Asheville UNC Asheville is the designated liberal arts institution for the UNC system and one of the nation’s top 10 public liberal arts universities. Enrolling 3,800 students and offering more than 30 undergraduate majors and a Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree, UNC Asheville encourages students to take part in a nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program and participate in interdisciplinary learning. From internships and hands-on projects, to study abroad and community engagement, students experience an education that extends beyond campus into the vibrant City of Asheville, the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the world.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.