The Hippo


Jul 5, 2020








Theresa Caulkins, glass artist at Studio 550. Courtesy photo.

Artist Communities
Makerspaces for creatives

By Kelly Sennott

 There aren’t any general art-centric makerspaces in New Hampshire, but if you want to take your art to the next level, there are plenty of different venues where you can do that depending on your preferred media.

Your best bet is to explore art centers and schools that teach it — many will offer open studio time or courses in which you can explore individual projects, like the Homestead Woodworking School in Newmarket ($325, plus materials, two months of classes).
At Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jaffrey, you can take classes or rent the studio for $40 per hour, according to its website, which includes bench, pipes, punties, tools and clear glass. 
If you want to tinker around with some higher-tech tools, a traditional makerspace might be your best option, and the Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth is full of creative makers, from engineers to furniture designers, photographers to woodworkers, with monthly ($50) or 24-hour access ($80) membership options. Come in with one trade, and you’ll likely learn another either through its class offerings or from another maker.
Current member Nihco Gallo joined with a woodworking background but learned a bit of metalsmithing soon after. The place boasts a woodshop, metal shop, machine shop, garage, 3-D printers and warehouse that can be used as storage space for large projects.
“A lot of members are hobbyists or craftspeople who just need access to tools and realize it’s cheaper and more convenient to join a makerspace than to outfit an entire space, as well as more social and fun,” Gallo said via phone. “I think the makerspaces are appealing to both craftsmen and professionals because they offer a wide range of tools that even the best outfitted hobbyists don’t have in their basements or garages.”
If you’re more into ceramics, Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester offers a variety of membership types for the use of studio space — punchcards (for which prices vary) or unlimited ($145), for which the studio is accessible during open studio hours. Regular class tuition also includes a once-a-week open studio session in which artists can practice or conduct individual projects. The only extra cost is clay and firing.
“Studio membership is more if you can’t make a class or don’t want instruction and are just working on a project,” owner Monica Leap said. “Not everybody wants to take a class. When I left school, I was just looking for a studio to work in.”
Sal Steven-Hubbard uses Studio 550’s space and tools.
“It’s a much better environment to work in than your basement,” Steven-Hubbard said. “And seeing other people’s work on display in the gallery gives you ideas. … It gives me something to strive for.”
Theresa Caulkins is a glass artist who has been with Studio 550 since its inception. The Manchester resident, who teaches both glass art and drawing, said it’s inspiring being part of the Studio 550 makerspace community.
“People come in with challenging new ideas that I never would have thought of on my own,” Caulkins said. “It’s been a really great place for me to meet really good people. I’ve been able to start growing a network, which is imperative as an artist. It’s really been a great foundation for me. We continue to grow every day, and the studio keeps getting more traction.”.
The state also hosts a few communal art studios and centers, like the newly-established Eclective Avenue Creative Art Space in the Manchester Mills, which is currently looking for more members to rent space and hold classes there. There’s also Creative Ventures Gallery in Amherst, which is home to artist studios, classroom space and exhibition events.
Another option is the New Hampshire Creative Club, which isn’t exactly a makerspace — it has no permanent home — but a $50 yearly membership gets you access to monthly creative-based events and helps connect big companies with freelance artists — designers, illustrators, copywriters, creative writers, photographers, videographers and furniture makers. 
NHCC president Amber Nicole Cannan said the organization helped her find her current job after being laid off in June. Older members took her under their wing and connected her with the right people to land a position as an adjunct New Hampshire Institute of Art professor. She teaches typography. 

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