Max Taylor is just getting into kayaking and thought it would be cool to build one himself.
But how do you do that without all the tools?
You go to the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, or BARN.
Taylor is one of six students who bought stitch and glue kits to make their own kayaks. They have spent the past two weeks assembling them. Soon they will varnish the top and paint the sides.
The African hardwood that was used is paper thin, about 3 milimeters. That means it’s lightweight. Taylor said his 17-footer only weighs about 40 pounds.
Taylor said it feels good to be back in an in-person classroom. He is a graduate student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but the campus has been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. He wants to be a wildlife manager, but thinks wood-working will be a hobby, maybe even making some furniture.
Carolyn Goodwin, marketing manager at BARN, said there are a lot of students ages 14 and older taking classes now. BARN was closed due to COVID, too, but now that they have returned in person, “So many are wanting to get in,” she said that extra sessions have been added. “We have the resources for all ages to learn.”
She said students especially like that they can work to become certificated so they can come back during “open studio” and work on their own projects on their own time. Grae Drake was doing just that in the glass studio, using a torch to make a marble.
“There are not many facilities like this – with this quality and level of equipment,” Goodwin said, adding if you become a BAN member and are certificated you can use the facility “as often as you want.”
BARN offers many types of studios. One is like a radio station where students interview people involved with nonprofits and the podcasts are posted online.
In the fiber studio there are different types of looms, along with a corner for knitting. Goodwin said the Suquamish tribe often teaches basket weaving there. There is also a kitchen studio for cooking classes.
BARN moved into its new digs in 2017, going from 2,500 square feet to 25,000 square feet, Goodwin said, adding the wood shop built all the cabinets in the entire facility.
Getting certificated also can help with a career. Students in nine months can get through the jewelry studio program and get a high-paying job as a jewelry manufacturer.
David Hays was in the metal shop studio with Peter Moseley, who donated much of the equipment there to BARN. Moseley also actually invented a machine that will open the BARN windows that are out of reach by remote.
Hays said his students also like the open studio. They are making all kinds of things right now, like a ship’s steering wheel and an abacus, in which beads are used for calculating.
“It runs the gamut,” Hays said, adding people bring in all types of stuff. “People want to fix things.”
Hays said when BARN was closed due to COVID he did offer a few online classes, but it was hard because working with metal is a “hands-on shop.”
In the jewelry studio, Goodwin showed off a large TV monitor. She said those came in handy during COVID because people didn’t want to get too close together. They could look at the monitor and see how to do the intricate work that was going on.
Goodwin said learning how to stream classes online has been a “silver lining” during COVID. She said they might have not done it otherwise, and now the classes are so popular they plan to continue them. She said they have students as far away as Dublin and Hong Kong.
“We stream live and can archive them,” she said.
Goodwin said BARN isn’t just for artists, it’s for anyone who wants to make something. New “Try It!” classes are starting up that are designed to offer total beginners a taste of something they’re interested in.
“I like to say that everyone has an artisan inside them, BARN just helps them find it,” she said.
BARN is a nonprofit formed in 2012 to build and operate a hands-on center for craft and invention on Bainbridge Island.
It features 10 studios: Electronic and Technical Arts, Fiber Arts, Glass Arts, Jewelry and Fine Metals, Kitchen Arts, Media Arts and BCB, Metal Fabrication, Print and Book Arts, Woodworking and Small Boat Building, and Writers.
Examples of classes include: Pitch your book so publishers pay attention; Picture books for children; Repair, restore and refinish furniture; Make a Dulcimer guitar; Welding; Make a hammer; Making digital memories; French Bistro cooking; Beginner jewelry; A-Z of stained glass; Modern abstract quilts; Intro to the laser cutter; and Introduction to web development.