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DIY Hub in H-Town

The maker revolution hits Houston: A warehouse is set to be turned into a hub for DIY craftsmen

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Houston Makerspace sign August 2013
"Houston Makerspace will give people access to what they need to expand their creativity," says founder Maclean Smyth, "whether that's with laser cutters, sewing machines, wood cutters, classes – you name it." (This sign above the workshop at New Living was created by Melissa Eason.)   Houston Makerspace/Vimeo
Maclean Smyth Houston Makerspace head shot August 2013
Maclean Smyth, founder and operator of Houston Makerspace Houston Makerspace/Vimeo
Houston Markerspace profile photo
Houston Makerspace profile photo Houston Makerspace/Facebook
Houston Makerspace sign August 2013
Maclean Smyth Houston Makerspace head shot August 2013
Houston Markerspace profile photo
Austin Photo: Author_Layne Lynch

The maker movement has gone viral across the nation in creative, DIY hubs like 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, Artisan's Asylum in Boston and ADX in Portland, and Houston is next for the taking.

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.

 "I could try and list all the classes that we'll have, but there is no way I could cover them all. Put it this way: If you can dream it up, we'll find a way to have it on our calendar."  

"I moved back to Houston from California last December and realized this small-but-influential maker community had developed while I was gone," she says. "There is an incredible creative energy here, but there isn't a solidity or unity around this maker movement we have going on, and we need to support it or we'll lose it.

"Most of these makers don't have enough, if any, access to the tools and machines they need to do their making. Houston Makerspace will give people access to what they need to expand their creativity, whether that's with laser cutters, sewing machines, wood cutters, classes — you name it. We have an incredible arts culture, so there is no reason we shouldn't support our craft culture."

To assist in funding the ambitious project, the DIY extraordinaire recently launched an Indiegogo campaign. The online campaign, which has a goal of $150,000, runs until midnight, Sept. 15. With the crowd-sourced funds Houston Makerspace reels in from the fundraiser, Smyth plans to build out and debut the Makerspace warehouse at the beginning of October. 

A cornucopia of classes, which include topics in woodworking, metalworking, culinary arts, textiles and sewing, screen printing, jewelry making, rapid prototyping and a myriad of other guilds and trades, will be available to Houstonians.

"I could try and list all the classes that we'll have, but there is no way I could cover them all," Smyth says. "Put it this way: If you can dream it up, we'll find a way to have it on our calendar. The wealth of knowledge we'll have available to our memebers is limitless."

In the meantime, the DIY group will host a series of classes called Makerspace in the Making until the workshop opens to the public. Recent classes included terrarium-building, fabric-stamping and soap-making. Smyth says September's class schedule will be posted on the Houston Makerspace website soon.

 "People should never have to fight to learn how to create something new."  

Those who have an interest in creating and crafting are often disheartened by the expense of tools, equipment and education it takes to learn — not to mention master — a new hobby, Smyth emphasizes.

"People should never have to fight to learn how to create something new," she says. "My plan is to make it ridiculously easy for people to learn how to craft in this city."

While there is a small selection of maker-inspired classes in Houston through shops like The Tinderbox and TX/RX, Makerspace will provide members with the additional equipment, tools, classes and workspace (at least 20,000 square feet) they need to hone and develop their DIY knowledge.

"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."

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