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 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 have been asked several times about how I find the artists that are featured in the shop. At first, I went after a few Houston artists whose work I had been admiring and shopping from for a while (Lisa Chow, Fuzzy Grapefruit, Olmox and Manready Mercantile to name a few). I love shopping at local markets and discovering new artists (like Abbie Drue Designs), and once I knew the shop was going to become a reality, starting sending out inquiries if artisans were interested in getting involved. I also took a trip to Austin with my dear friend Candice, and we found several artists there that I wanted to have in the store as well. (Son of a Sailor, Satchel & Sage, and Little Low Studios were some of our firsts.) It starting growing organically from there, with recommendations from other artists, a few Etsy searches, to artists reaching out to us. I am happy and proud of the quality and variety of what we offer at The Tinderbox, and we are bringing new lines in all of the time (like Bexar Goods and Fox & Brie making their debuts soon!) so come check us out and support a craftsman not a corporation (thats a tip of the hat to ML Leather, also new to the shop)! Here is a small sample of the handcrafted products we have in the shop; you can check out a list of all of our makers here.
Abbie Drue Designs
Summer Bucket Jewelry
Jessica Grundy Art