With the change of the year, and the arrival of a new baby, so comes a big change for The Tinderbox. After an amazing couple of years, we are going into hibernation mode and putting a hold on continuing operations at our brick & mortar studio/shop in Mid-Main after this weekend. Although we are temporarily closing the physical site of our business, we will continue to host seasonal craft Markets and collaborate with other Houston independent businesses to bring you craft + DIY classes throughout the year while we pursue other creative opportunities.
The idea for the studio sparked in Ren’s head over 5 years ago and it’s been a long and hugely rewarding journey toward realizing our vision of a space where people came to learn, share, create, and shop from a variety of local artists year-round. We’ve been fulfilled beyond belief throwing some memorable craft parties, offering a unique variety of workshops, fostering the development of many independent designers, and meeting so many amazing, creative, and inspirational makers. We have also loved being a part of Mid-Main, a cohort of small business owners and like-minded developers slowly reinvigorating a once-neglected block. It feels like family here, and we will continue to stay connected to this special place.
The end of one venture often signals the start of something new…the beginning of the next exciting journey is already in the works, and we can’t wait to announce our next project soon (wink wink)! We are thinking hard (and objectively) about repackaging and moving our current setup and catering to the needs of Houston makers and shoppers looking for unique and handmade products. We hope you’ll continue to follow this path with us and stay connected through Facebook, Instagram, &/or Twitter.
Forever in our Hearts
A few weeks ago I took a field trip to Houston Makerspace and got a wonderful tour of this incredible facility. I’ve been to ADX in Portland, and was excited to hear that fellow crafter and business lady Maclean Smyth was bringing the same type of facility to Houston around the time we opened The Tinderbox. To see it come to fruition and currently building momentum is great-from Culture Map’s Lane Lynch:
“Maclean Smyth, the founder and operator of Houston Makerspace, is working to pioneer a maker revival in the Bayou City by installing a large co-working, craft warehouse called Houston Makerspace — the first of its kind in the Bayou City. The forthcoming workshop will provide members with access to the tools, equipment, classes and co-working space they need to create, craft and collaborate with fellow artisans. Smyth believes the city has a deep-seated, untapped resource of capable, committed crafters that would greatly benefit from working together and learning from each other’s trades and skills.”
The first thing that struck me was the size of the warehouse and the opportunities that come with 20,000+ square feet. My head was spinning with the possibilities of classes and educational opportunities that we cannot facilitate at The Tinderbox. Take a tour through pictures below of the jewelry fabrication space, screen printing setup, laser cutter, 3D printer, carpentry area, metalwork space, sewing and textile room, photo room, and classroom.
“I believe that creativity aspires innovation and ambition in our culture,” Smyth says. “With this space, we can build a society of makers right here in Houston.” That is exactly what we wanted to create at The Tinderbox, so I am happy that the same attitude is being fostered elsewhere in the city. To finally see the space in person was really exciting, and I encourage everyone to go check it out, take a class, and most importantly invest in the businesses and opportunities in Houston that make it a much better place to live and work.
We were excited to partner with the Bayou City Art Festival and host the “Adult Creative Zone” for the 2nd year in a row. The festival took place Oct. 11-12 at Sam Houston Park. During the previous year’s festivities we got rained out, but the weather cooperated this year and we helped more than 400 adults stamp leather keychains, decorate totes, and create origami birds for the Peace Crane Project. It is always fun to see adults act shy and tepid around anything labeled “creative” or “DIY,” but everyone had a great time, and we were happy to further our mission of connecting people to projects that use their hands and allow them to open up the creativity inside of us all. A huge thank you to all of our volunteers and especially my family who came out and helped make this event happen (my sister is seriously the best). Oh, and thank you KHOU and Great Day Houston for the lovely news segment the Friday morning before on The Tinderbox-we are so proud to be woven continuously through the ever-changing fabric of Houston.
The leather stamping station was a big hit; participants stamped a personal message or phrase into a beautifully handcrafted leather keychain made exclusively for this event:
The “decorate your own tote” activity station took on a path of its own with people thinking outside of the box and creating impressive designs with the stamps and inks provided. The bags were a hit because it provided a way for people to carry some of the goodies they were buying at the festival!
For the last project we tag-teamed with the “Kid’s Creative Zone” and asked participants to create origami cranes in hopes of making 1001 by the end of the festival. The Peace Crane Project is a worldwide effort to connect people through the arts.
We recently hit the 3-month mark of being open, and it has really flown by! We knew there would be things about the space that we would change once we were in, and we were right. We just finished a large remodel, and I wanted to share the evolution of the shop in the last few months. Here are a few pictures of the shop in March 2013. It had not been used for over a year, but was a great blank canvas:
We had less than a month to get the shop operational, and a huge thanks to all of our friends and family who came out and assisted with moving, painting, and everything in between. We officially opened our doors April 9, 2013 showcasing 20 local artisans and hosted our first workshop April 19th. The following 3 months were filled with fun, lessons learned, new friends, new artists, workshops, great media coverage, and lots of hours! We have gotten to know the block a lot better, and have really invested in making this area a urban destination where you can walk around and check out all locally-owned businesses.
By the beginning of July, we had doubled our artisan list and underwent a large renovation to move a few walls to open up a new workshop space that was once storage and an office, and give the retail space a facelift. I love the new space, it seems bigger and is definitely more functional than before. Our workshop and private party attendees can now enjoy their own creative area and we have the additional room at the front of the store to bring in more handcrafted furniture and home goods. If this much has changed in less than 4 months, I can only image how the shop will continue to evolve. Thank you to all of our customers that have shopped, created, laughed, and reenergized inside these 4 walls. I have been forever changed by the process of opening this shop and maker space, and I hope to continue to serve Houston with a crafty creative haven for anyone looking to get re-aquanited with traditional skills and techniques of our past, and to shop from and support local artisans who have sacrificed a lot to offer high quality goods that you can be proud to own. Take a look at the new space below, then come say hello, shop from amazing local makers, and create something!
I wanted to circle back and highlight the amazing time I had hosting the Houston ETSY Craft Party June 20th. So many Houstonians came out to craft for a cause and the feeling of community was palpable. We had so many craft supplies and materials donated by the community, including The Tinderbox artists’ Beyond Her, Fuzzy Grapefruit, and Hola Dear Deer. Brittany of the Houston ETSY team and I decided to pick a local non-profit we could handcraft practical items for, and we made the following for a charity that does so much for women, The Women’s Home.
Candles from Manready Mercantile
Jewelry from Rust & Pearls
Lip balm from Rachel's Plan Bee
A warm thank you to everyone who participated by making, providing materials, food, and support, and helped spread the word, especially our neighbors My Flaming Heart and Natachee’s. I am always in need of a reminder of the good people are capable of, and why I opened a “craft collective” in the first place, so thank you! Check out the great pictures below from the night.