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Getting crafty

Why doesn’t downtown Edmonton
have more makerspaces?

A much neater than average crafting project. Downtown needs more spaces like this.  (Jasmin Schreiber, Unsplash)

Editor’s notebook
By Taylor Harrison

IN SOME WAYS, crafting is a bit of an oddball concept. It’s somewhere between art and manufacturing, often leaning more one way or the other. You can use craft skills to make something whose price tag makes you cry, but many of the tools and machines you need for crafting are investment purchases themselves.

Even if price isn’t a problem, there’s the space investment to consider – while there are a lot of good things about apartment living, the lack of space means you’re more than likely to end up turning your living room into a craft hellscape. And that’s if you don’t manage to give yourself brain damage from keeping your face only a couple centimetres away from resin (and all its fumes).

Over all, it’s tricky to craft in your apartment. It becomes trickier when you want to work on even bigger projects that require more specialized machines whose price tag is four digits (at minimum) and whose footprint means that your sofa is going to have to find a new home. And that’s assuming you want to take up a quiet, domestic craft. (You’re going to have to wait on learning blacksmithing or woodworking until you can find a place with an attached garage, a rarity with downtown apartments.)

There have been more options opening up – specifically the makerspace in the Stanley A. Milner library. It’s great: you’ve got vinyl cutters, sewing machines, and now even a laser cutter.

There is only one makerspace
in the downtown

There are more machines coming to the library in the future, and there’s a plethora of classes to learn how to use the equipment there. The only problem is that there’s only one makerspace at one place downtown, and maybe it doesn’t have the specific machine you’re looking for.

So why don’t we see more? For people living in apartments, a space where they could express their creativity without having to worry about how they’re going to hide away all their crafting mess would be a godsend. It would give people who want a creative outlet but aren’t sure which one they want to try an opportunity to explore, and give more serious crafters the opportunity to use top-of-the-line machines to which they wouldn’t have access otherwise. These kinds of spaces would also give people the chance to socialize while working on what is usually a solitary activity, and offer classes for those who want to expand their skills.

Modern people tend to underestimate the importance of craft. A study by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy reveals that crafting can boost mood, deter cognitive deterioration and provide a sense of accomplishment.

We live in a world where things are designed to be mass-produced and mass-discarded. So, being able to take the time and effort to make something special becomes all the more satisfying.

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