Making Of the Makeshop Spaces
Makeshop is a creative placemaking project in the Elk City neighborhood of Charleston, West Virginia. We’ve collaborated with over 30 local artists and craftspeople to renovate 4,000 sq. ft. of a 1920's abandoned building — home of a former neighborhood trophy shop — into art + design studio space, artist live/work lofts, and a growing community of artists, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.
A majority of folks working on the building were trying something they had never done before. A union plumber took a stab at welding our storefront, a sculpture artist arranged the floor, a graphic designer drew her first floorplans, a landscape architect did her first cement form work. The apprentices of WomenWorkWV had many construction firsts here. This building is a work in progress for folks to try their hand skilling up. It is full of many different, beautifully imperfect first tries.
Jim was one of the last neon-sign benders in West Virginia. We worked in his studio filled to the brim with neon and glass in a holler just outside of Charleston. Jim custom designed and made the Makeshop sign and installed in our our space the week we moved in, serving as a beacon of light for all of us.
Mailman by day…artist, sculptor, welder, visionary all the time in between. Nik designed and built our grid weld sculptural wall that separates our space over the course of 12 months. The piece was built in his studio at Apartment Earth in downtown Charleston, and installed in a modular format by Nik and his father. You should see the handmade door and hinges.
What started as plumbing job for a union welder in our basement turned into turned into a creative transformation. Megan welded the Makeshop storefront in collaboration with sculptor Nina Alexander, and then took the lead on the design/build of the matching Vandalia storefront, bringing women in under with wing to assist her, and teaching them the welding process along the way. Megan has since begun welding furniture, and has created many of the furniture pieces in the building in collaboration with other artists, like Megan Bullock. While Megan was welding, her son Zavian tagged along to hang out in the studio, eventually inspiring our youth coding programs.
Nina Alexander, a sculptor, maker, and builder from New England and friend of the founder, designed the first Makeshop storefront, collaborating with local glass and steel suppliers, and built it in collaboration with Megan Payne.
Sign-painter and tattoo artist Kayleigh resided in the Makeshop building for two years, and helped support in painting and sign-painting along the way.
Landscape Architecture by trade, Maram is a coworker at the Makeshop space, and self-initiated the design/build of the cement form planters in the front of our space.
Retired firefighter, state Monopoly Champion and builder Ed graced us with his charm, stories, kindness, altruism and building skills over a six month project restoring our Hazel loft. If you see him, ask him how he onced saved a child in the Kanawha River, ask him about his secret society, ask him about his cars. Ed is an Appalachian gem, always giving of himself and taking care of everyone around him.
RACHEL + WV WOMEN WORK
Contractor Rachel and her team from WV Women Work have restored multiple spaces in our building, from the Etta loft to the first restructuring of the one of our storefronts. She always keeps an eye out for ways to resuse materials, and even turned the old pine shelves from the former Trophy Shop into flooring in one of the lofts.
Ray is our neighborhood watch. Since the beginning of this build renovation in 2015, Ray has been present and supportive, leading demolition of the building, preserving every piece of history he could find, showing up late at night with break-ins, or early in the morning to help with a new project. Once a month he takes care of our back green space, and keeps an eye on the alleyway for us. Makeshop would not be here without the friendship, support, loyalty and hard work of Ray through the years.