Ideas ranged from how to make your own canvas for painting; to sewing, making mosaics, rug braiding out of reclaimed fabric and other items; to repair and tools 101 workshops, to creating gifts for the holidays or remember loved ones. From these ideas, talent from the community offered to lead or co-lead classes. 

Two women use powertools to build their toy chests

Tyler Rodkey of Painting Freedom Ministries led our very first Tools 101 workshop in December 2017 which consisted of learning some tool basics, materials, and building skills; then participants got to build their own toy chest which they were able to take home with them.

Toy chest workshops participants pose behind their finished product

“My special experience with Chester Made was when I built my chest. We all came together, learned measurements and working with the miter saws. That was a very special connection. I got to talk to you guys and work together. We communicated like we never communicated before. I brought my grandson in, and he brought his dad with him, and they built that chest. So that’s a very special time at Chester Made for me.” –Debbie Montgomery, workshop participant

Boys posing with their fixed bikes at the Makerspace

Also in December 2017, Chester Made held a D-I-Y Bike Repair workshop made possible with the help of Sari Steuber of Transition Town Media and their wonderful volunteer bike mechanics. Nine participants walked in with bikes in need of repair, and all nine rode out on fully functioning bikes.

four youth builders are led by building leader to build desks

“We had an opportunity to get to work with people that aren’t familiar with tools and get to experience them and build their own level of confidence and know, ‘I can do this, I can translate these skills into other projects.’” –Tools 101 participant

In February 2018, Chester Made partnered with the PA Cyber Charter School to create a Tools 101 specifically for students to learn tool basics and create their own compact wall desk. With the help of Tyler Rodkey, as well as Jeff Pond of the Public Workshop, a total of eight desks were built by the end of this event!

Two gentlemen work together to fix a bike wheel

“We are talking about Building Conversations—building concrete stuff through conversation—people actually coming up with projects.   We’ve done everything from talk about doing drywall repair, to clocks, to lamps. So—building things, but also building relationships.” –Ulysses Slaughter, project manager

The final Building Conversations, put together by Toni Truehart and Earl Boyd of Entrepreneur Works, was “My Art is My Business.” This special community networking event was designed as a follow up to the “Broken Pieces” community exhibit and auction. They shared many ways they support small business owners and artisans working to hone their entrepreneurial skills. The group discussed growth and marketing strategies for artists and builders, including sharing services as well as finding your special niche in the business community. All of these topics brought the focus back to creating sustainability through connections and networks.