Like many local businesses and organizations, the Bainbridge Island Artisan Resource Network has diverted its classes to online-only amid the COVID-19 pandemic but it also is making various Personal Protective Equipment for the community.
BARN’s facility has been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is it’s offering online classes and open studios via Zoom, which has been a huge success, program manager Jess Henderson said.
“It’s been a learning process to translate hands-on experiences to a virtual platform,” Henderson said. “We’ve had some great successes and are excited about the many possibilities ahead. We are taking steps to provide training for our instructors to get more comfortable teaching over Zoom, and we’re also partnering with experienced instructors in other locations.
“After our building opens, we expect to begin merging online and in-person experiences into a hybrid model for some classes,” Henderson continued. “We want our programs to continue to be accessible to those who need to stay home for health and safety reasons.”
Henderson said some of BARN’s most popular classes during quarantine have been ‘Easy as Pie’ where participants learn how to make a perfect pie in
their home kitchens, baking alongside an acclaimed local cooking instructor, as well as ‘Visible Mending with Shibaguyz,’ where students learn how to turn clothing with holes into stylish statements from Seattle instructors.
While the studios are not open for artisan demonstrations, the space is serving a greater purpose by letting volunteers work on projects related to combatting COVID-19. Goodwin said volunteers in the Electronic and Technical Arts studio have printed PPE parts on BARN’s 3D printers, including headbands for face shields and components of advanced PAPR hoods.
The Metal Fabrication Studio has produced more than 8,000 metal nosebands for face masks and Fiber Arts volunteers have sewn more than 5,000 face masks. Additionally, volunteers in the BARN kitchen have been cooking more than 200 meals a week through its “BARN Bites” program. The meals are distributed for free through social service organizations Helpline House and Island Caregivers.
“The community has generously supported BARN during this emergency,” Goodwin said. “The Bainbridge Community Foundation has awarded BARN two different grants that have enabled us to meet the needs of the community during the pandemic. We have received general donations in support of BARN and gifts for community service projects such as BARN Bites and the face mask project.
“In addition to financial donations, people gave yards and yards of fabric, elastic and binding for masks. Others donated time on their 3D printers at home to help print out PPE parts. As always, this community was incredibly generous and eager to help.”
Lastly, Goodwin pointed out that finding an enjoyable and creative hobby can provide folks with a bit of a welcomed distraction from everyday challenges of the pandemic.
“We are happy to be providing opportunities to support the well-being and mental health of individuals during this challenging time,” she said. “Creative experiences can bring a new sense of joy and purpose to life. We are also excited about connecting our members and guests with people all over the world through our online classes and events. This allows us to promote greater understanding and support for people across geographic borders.”
BARN is comprised of an intergenerational community of artisans dedicated to learning, sharing and inspiring one another with creativity, craftsmanship and community service to provide workspaces for a variety of art and craft forms, classes, and community-building opportunities., its mission statement says.
Created in 2012, BARN started out in a small 2,500 square foot building in the Rolling Bay neighborhood. In 2017, it opened its current 25,000 square foot facility, including 10 fully equipped spaces for crafts, ranging from electronic and technical arts to fiber arts, jewelry, woodworking and more.
In 2019, more than 5,000 people signed up for a class or open studio, BARN marketing manager Carolyn Goodwin said. Additionally, there are about 1,000 members and hundreds of volunteers. Eleven full- and part-time staff make up BARN.
“Bainbridge Island was already home to many artisans and makers – many of them helped shape BARN’s evolution,” Goodwin said. “BARN offers a place where they can come to share ideas and learn from others in their field. Our location is also easy to reach from greater Kitsap County and the Seattle metropolitan area.”