Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Look Inside Maker House

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM

The newly-planted grass is just beginning to sprout in Maker House's courtyard. Inside, the Salon has a gleaming new floor and 8 lights shine from every pillar. There's the beginnings of a bar in the Cafe and copper ceiling tiles have been installed. It's clear that Maker House is moving right along on their renovation of the Bates Mansion, set to open September 14th.

Even the historic Salvador Corona mural in the Corona Room is starting to look like its true self again since Charlie Barton from DeGrazia Gallery began restorations. The rare mural suffered water damage and alteration by one of the tenants that rented the Bates Mansion in the early 2000's. Out-of-place palm trees disappear bit by bit as Barton painstakingly removes excess paint with a cotton swab. The longer you spend with the mural, the more you notice the intricate details. Vanessa Ford, Executive Director of Maker House, points out wher tiny gold leaf was added in certain places, like a collage. Glitter will not be allowed in the Corona Room until renovations are finished - which presents an interesting challenge to the All Souls Procession, who has plans for 23 events at Maker House in October.

The concrete floor in the Corona Room has been has become a beautiful yellow-creme masterpiece under the care of local business Rogos Finishing Touch. The owner's father actually did the tile work in the front entryway of the Bates Mansion 30 years ago. Leave it to Tucson to come full circle.

Not only has construction progressed, but 100 instructors are registered to teach and 25 more have submitted applications. “Tucsonans have so much to teach each other,” says Ford. Who wouldn't want to take classes like non-alcoholic brewing (think ginger-beer), DIY jewelry from guitar strings, and precision chainsaw cutting? One instructor, considered a Polish national treasure, has signed on to teach Wycinanki (Vee-chee-non-kee) - a Polish form of paper-cutting art.

And it gets better. During their first meeting, instructors - who had never met before and without provocation - began collaborating to devise classes that involved cross-over of disciplines. “They had amazing ideas and they're just the first 20 to sit down together in the same room,” said Ford.

More resident experts have joined the Maker House team. Anna Perreira of Yellow Brick Coffee is the official Resident Roaster, and as such her beans will be he primary roasts served at Maker House. “She makes you excited about coffee!” says Ford. Movie buffs can chat with Resident Classic Film Expert Joe Morella, who used to write for Variety Magazine. Those interested in developing their green thumb can learn about hydroponics and vertical food production from Cisco Currey. And the Resident Physicist, Dr. W. Thomas Hintz, has so many great ideas for classes that he'll have to teach constantly to get through them all.

Even upstairs business Archaeology Southwest is getting in on the DIY fun with workshops that teach ancient skills, like flint carving.

Ford insists there's more to do at Maker House than take classes. “You don't have to take a class to enjoy the space or utilize creative thinking,” says Ford. “It's just one of the things we offer.” Members can hang out in the lounge, order drinks from the Cafe, and form a club with people they meet in the Corona Room. The point of Maker House is to join a community.

KXCI will be doing a concert series every month beginning in October, and Maker House will be the hub for a maker-esque fair in November. They will also sponsor a cell-phone film festival. Because, why not. The Zombie Walk will teach costume workshops and show participants the correct way to act like a zombie.

There's almost too much to do at Maker House. Ford admits she is moving to a closer location so she can spend even more time there.

Basic membership is $10/month, which includes access to the space and $10 off each class you take. If you sign up through the crowd-funding campaign, you can get discounts off of memberships as well as merchandise and other perks like tickets to their launch party. The campaign ends on the 21st, and only 10% of the funds so far have come from Tucson, with the rest coming from national donors. Ford is surprised at Tucson's low initial support. “These are Tucson instructors with expertise they want to share with other Tucsonans,” says Ford. “And they're incredible at what they do.”

One of Maker House's newly revealed ideas, co-working, opens up the space to those interested in joining the collaborative community on a more professional basis. Drop-in and full office spaces are available, and must be applied for since Maker House intends to provide the best possible connections in their limited space. Perks include on-site council for legal service, marketing and research, and graphic design.

Until they open, follow them on facebook and check out their RocketHub campaign at

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