By Michael Workman
Since Chicago is home to one of the largest craft movements in the country, it’s amazing that there’s so little reporting of it. “Maker Beat” is a response to this lack; in a series of regular columns, it’ll give voice to the masses of makers who toil among us. This week, we’ll peek into a couple of our favorite maker venues around Chicago.
In its new home at the Thorndale Red Line stop, Edgewater Workbench is one of those “why-Chicago-is-great” projects, a community resource center offering access to a variety of applied technology. Their arsenal includes a laser cutter for etching wood and glass; they also have a Form 1 and array of MakerBot 3-D printing machines among rows of woodworking benches. The MakerBots print using environmentally friendly, plant-based PLA plastic.
A small gift shop near the front windows features repurposed wood crates stocked with objects made both in and out of the shop by artists and artisans in the community. The space hosts the immensely popular Community Glue Repair Clinic for visitors to bring and fix their broken possessions. It’s a handy way to repair old bikes, guitars and toys. And it’s also a venue that offers education and resources for reuse, maintenance and sustainability to people who may not have been able to afford the repairs on their own. Notably, the owners couldn’t afford the pricey equipment either until winning an Absolut Vodka competition that netted them twenty thousand in award money.
Proprietors Ally Brisbin and Stuart Marsh, who opened Workbench sensing a wave of the future, offer free WiFi and bottomless coffee. If you’re one of those who needs a coffee shop for work and could use the extra space and workshop access, you can book a spot at Edgewater Workbench for $8 a day or $150 a month.
Edgewater Workbench, 1130 West Thorndale at Broadway, (773)944-0650, edgewaterworkbench.com. Open 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday and 10am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday.
We would be completely remiss in our coverage if we didn’t make a few educated holiday market recommendations. It’s gaga time in the indie craft world, that one time of year when lots of people are buying the stuff that lots of people are making. Gifts! Drinks! Fun! If you’re deciding between the gazillion holiday market events out there, and have time for just a FEW more things mid-month, and you want something daytime, fun, stylish, with a range of selections, check out the HOL-i-DOSE. It’s a sure thing: DOSE made this magazine’s “Best of Chicago” list for 2014.
What helps DOSE stand apart? Since it’s well attended, the atmosphere is always lively, a kind of an ongoing party that always brings together interesting vendors, including a good number from out of town. It’s a place where you can go to shop and have a great time too. It’s family-friendly, but you can also go with friends. Plan to take the afternoon and maybe even some of the early evening if you have a few more than the free drink you get for entering.
The Revolution Holiday Craft Market at the brewery’s massive Kedzie tap room deserves an honorable mention. It’s also tons of fun, despite being smaller than DOSE. The advantage is a whole line of Revolution beers to choose from, massive wooden community tables to cozy with friends or family at, and the ever-popping popcorn machine to entertain you while not shopping. There’s a lot to see, so start early.
HOL-i-DOSE takes place December 14, 10am-5pm, Venue One, 1034 West Randolph, (312)972-8400. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door (both include free drink ticket), dosemarket.com. Revolution Craft Show also takes place December 14, from noon-6pm, Revolution Brewery Tap Room, 3340 North Kedzie, revolutioncraftshowchicago.com.