Benchspace was started to help makers and designers get into business. For a lot of making disciplines in Ireland it has always been a tough prospect to make it at your chosen occupation. We see a lot of people coming through craft and design courses in Cork, like furniture design at CSN and jewellery at St John’s College. They spend a year or two in a well-equipped creative environment surrounded by lots of like-minded teachers and students, there is time and space to explore their discipline. Then after graduation, they are suddenly cast out into the big bad world and all of these resources are taken away. It’s hard to find space, it’s hard to find customers, and motivation can be a problem when you’re working on your own. Most of all it’s much harder to improve and develop without other people to bounce ideas off or be inspired by.
This is the gap that Benchspace seeks to fill. If you want to have a go at a creative business then you don’t need to buy all of the equipment, you don’t need to rent a lot of space and you can get help finding customers and getting advice about how to run your business. That is the environment we are working to build, not just for woodworkers but for instrument makers, jewellers, ceramicists, product designers, artists, graphic designers, set-designers, etc. In fact we think it will be so good that non-making designers will want to hang out, like web designers, bloggers and architects. When we get to that point, we know that people will interact, inspire and create new things, new ideas, new possibilities, that’s when it gets really interesting.
Even if you’re not a pro, if you’ve just got the woodwork bug or need to get out of the house for a few hours, then we want to meet you too. When it grows up, Benchspace wants to be a kind of ‘third place’, not work, not home but more like a café where you can make stuff. If it’s for an audience of one, or a market of hundreds we want to see people making and creating.
So what has that got to do with a 9ft sycamore table? Well, it’s a small project but it has a lot of the qualities we like in a creative project. The Cork County architect’s office made contact saying that they would like to see some local work in a building fitout they were doing in the Cork Fire & Building Control in the County Hall campus. Often this would be completed with imported contract furniture, but thanks to the County reaching out to Benchspace, we were able to put some really good Cork makers on the job. To complete the project we sourced local wood from Mark Donnelly’s yard in Carrrigrohane, and delivered a smart spalted sycamore dining table to site a couple of weeks ago. This example allowed us connect some emerging makers to a local contract, and we managed to use some local materials along the way. Hopefully we’ll see plenty more projects like this.
Thanks to everyone for making last Saturday such an enjoyable morning. Kinsale Gin very kindly donated some bottles and glasses and we had some really enthusiastic makers in the workshop creating gin caddies to suit.
Fundit crowdfunding campaign a huge success.
Thanks to everyone who donated, spread the word and gave encouragement over the 5 weeks. We made it, the final total pledged was €8,225.00, exceeding the target by an impressive €725.
We received the email addresses of donors on Friday and we are contact you now to issue invitations and to get delivery details for rewards. Hopefully many of you will come to this Friday night’s opening and we can give them to you in person.
Next we are shopping for a good quality 14″ or 16″ planer thicknesser, ideally a quality used machine. Any sightings, please let us know.
We really appreciate your support, thank you.
Sean, Fergus, Tony & all the Benchspace makers
With the Friday deadline for their crowdfunding campaign looming, the boys and girls at Benchspace have been working very hard to spread the word and seek support for the workshop fit-out. Amazingly, some generous supporters have pushed us over the finish line two days early! As you may know, the rules of the fundit.ie creative crowdfunding site require campaigners to reach their target or forfeit all pledges, so this week’s contributions are most welcome. Indeed we’d like to offer our sincerest thanks to everyone who supported the campaign. Every bit as important as the funding is the encouragement that this gives us to push the project forward, more than a hundred people have contributed over the five and we are extremely grateful.
This week also sees three more makers take up residence at the Benchspace workshop. Brendan (left) and Peter (right) are furniture makers, and Brian in the middle is an instrument maker. We wish them the very best of luck and we promise them a new planer-thicknesser very soon!
Only 4 days left, its all or nothing, please DONATE TODAY.
We are crowd funding to buy professional equipment for the workshop, machines that startups generally cannot afford to buy or house. All donations will go towards buying equipment and installing it. The more money we can raise, the higher the standard and range of equipment we can provide.
To get us started, generous supporters have loaned us machines for a short period. We now need to acquire our own permanent equipment.
The money raised will be used to buy a large format panel saw, and a planer-thicknesser.
€4,500 – Panel saw
€3,000 – Planer
€7,500 – Total
These prices are estimates based on good quality used machines. If we save any money on purchases or exceed the target, the remainder will go towards other equipment and tools such as dust extraction and a wide belt sander.
Bringing the workshop to this stage has been a lot of work and we’re sure that there are plenty more challenges ahead. But with the great help we’ve had from volunteers and the encouragement from supporters we know we can make an amazing creative space in Cork.
We really appreciate your support, thank you.
Sean, Fergus & Tony