A SpaceCraft has landed in Charleston, but you won't find any little green men inside. The recently opened Avondale spot is a mix between a boutique and a crafting workshop, and owner Allison Merrick hopes to make it a hub for Charleston's growing maker movement.
Gaining traction nationwide, the maker movement, also known as the DIY movement, loosely includes anyone who creates, from crafters to artists to inventors to builders. "There's a post-modern, post-feminist reaction to all the stamped-out crap made in China. People are realizing the inherent internal, human value in creating things themselves, without regard to perfection," Merrick says. "SpaceCraft is completely inspired by this post-modern return to handcrafted things."
Merrick, a former web content producer, has spent the last few months thoughtfully refining the space in an old doctor's office in Avondale. The facade is decorated with potted succulents and bunting made by friends at a recent craft night. Inside, vintage globes sit in the window and large letters from a now-defunct sign company hang on the wall. The shelves are stocked with stationery and jewelry from local and national crafters, and there's a resource library of how-to books available to visitors. Farther inside, there are roomy crafting tables, shelves stocked with clearly labeled supplies, and tools ranging from saws to sewing machines to a screenprinting press. A Keurig coffeemaker lives in a back room, ready to provide a caffeine fix for crafters, though Merrick says some workshop participants prefer adult beverages to get their creative juices flowing.
A crafty person herself, Merrick was inspired by similar places in larger cities like San Francisco, where she lived for seven years before moving to Charleston. "This is the type of space that, as a crafter, I have been craving in Charleston, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to provide it," she says. She worries that the local crafting and maker communities are fractured, and she wants to bring their members together for more collaboration. She's tapping friends to teach workshops on how to plant a terrarium, assemble a remote-control helicopter with an Arduino, and hand-carve a stamp. Other classes will focus on textile arts (sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, felting), screenprinting, jewelry-making, paper-making, bookbinding, soap-making, glass etching, bicycle maintenance and repair, and more. Makers can also stop by and pay a small fee to use the facilities.
"When the crafting experts and novices come together, everyone benefits from each other," she says. "Experts learn by sharing and teaching, and newbies start to see the vast array of things that they can make, or at least support others who are doing so."
Merrick, who lives in Byrnes Down, says she targeted Avondale because of its quickly growing creative scene. "I'm constantly meeting people who live here who live creative lives: crafters, printers, writers, builders, musicians, brokers of vintage items, chefs, makers, scientists, hair stylists, photographers, painters, and more," she says. "The cool little art zine, 843, is created here. The chART Gallery is a fantastic, accessible display of visual arts, and, more importantly it's shown that business owners support the arts and are interested in beautifying the area."