Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Statewide Project Manager, CCC Maker, was invited to participate in the Center for Craft and University of North Carolina (UNC) Asheville Craft Think Tank in November 2017. The event was devoted to mapping and understanding the potential role and impact of craft in a makerspace setting. She was one of 15 international, national and local thought-leaders who worked together to identify seven possible craft makerspace models and five key benefits for integrating craft into makerspaces.
The findings from the convening are published in the report “14th Annual Craft Think Tank: Craft Makerspaces” and may be found by scrolling down the page summarizing the convening. Learn more at http://www.craftcreativitydesign.org/.
According to the press release issued by Center for Craft and UNC, craft, or a particular approach to making with a strong connection to materials, skills, and process, is often seen in opposition to the high-tech world of makerspaces, but the two can work together. “The Center for Craft is deeply committed to the handmade process and believes that there are appropriate and necessary areas for digital advances in the field,” says Center for Craft Executive Director Stephanie Moore. “The purpose of the 2017 Craft Think Tank was to explore questions about the impact and outcomes of introducing the handmade into the makerspace setting and conversely exploring what opportunities makerspaces provide for craft.”
Initial conversations recognized studios, workshops and classrooms as precursors to the makerspace, creating parallels of shared interest in tools and technologies, as well as an investment in the idea of innovation. The Craft Think Tank found that introducing craft into makerspaces has the potential to humanize makerspaces, deepening makers’ knowledge of materials and their applications, encouraging personal expression, lowering access barriers to making, building community, and providing a connection to local heritage and traditions. “Craft is a powerful concept that can and should be introduced into makerspaces worldwide,” said UNC Asheville Interim Chancellor Joseph Urgo. “As North Carolina’s designated liberal arts university, our interdisciplinary connections merge arts and sciences, tactile learning and technological advances. Our STEAM Studio is one example of this work as a space for creative collaboration and opportunity.”
Ultimately, five key benefits of introducing craft into the makerspace setting were identified:
• Leveraging new knowledge for business and academic research
• Bridging craft and startup cultures
• Accelerating interdisciplinary exchange
• Improving gender diversity
• Powering new and effective types of problem solving
The convening was partially funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation entitled “University of North Carolina Asheville: Leading the Public Arts and Humanities in the City of Asheville.”