Tom and Theresa Lendway built the White Bear Makerspace to give local artists a place to work and learn.
Inspired by their love for crafting, woodworking and the need to downsize their home, Vadnais Heights couple Theresa and Tom Lendway decided to create a space in White Bear Township that could bring fellow artists and artisans together in one large workshop. The idea for a makerspace came to the Lendways when they were trying to downsize after becoming empty nesters. They couldn’t imagine their life without a home workshop, so they decided it was time to take a leap and create the workspace they had always envisioned for their use and to share with the community.
Makerspaces are designated areas that allow anyone to come in and work on whatever projects they desire. This includes woodworking, 3D printing, scrapbooking, painting, working with a laser cutter, a heat press and more.
Tom is a skilled woodworker who makes entertainment centers, cabinets, clocks, cutting boards and more. His father was a pattern-maker, and Tom learned the craft from him. “I make just about anything, and I generally make something only once,” says Tom.
Theresa is learning the art of woodworking from Tom. She also enjoys working on smaller projects like making ornaments and scrapbooking. “I dabble in [woodworking]. I give him ideas and he has been helping me,” says Theresa.
When White Bear Makerspace opened on March 23, nearly 150 people passed through to check out the 10,000-square-foot facility. Those interested in using the space can become members or purchase passes which are offered in a pack of five for $125 and can be used day or night, weekdays or weekends. Artists can rent shop or desk space to work, depending on their needs, as well as storage space for their projects and equipment. The Makerspace also offers studio work spaces where artists can have their own space. The Makerspace is always staffed to ensure that items are secure, says Theresa.
While five days is usually the minimum for use of the space, Makerspace sometimes runs specials where the space can be used for the day on a walk-in basis.
White Bear Makerspace offers woodworking classes for anyone interested in either trying the craft for the first time or looking to learn more sophisticated methods. They are currently offering a class for beginners to learn how to build birdhouses. “We want to offer opportunities from beginner to expert,” says Theresa.
“We’re constantly changing the classes we offer and we even offer custom classes,” says Theresa.
Matt Wessberg, another lifelong woodworker, has been using the space four to five days each week since Makerspace has been open. Wessberg says he uses it as a place to retreat to when he isn’t busy being a stay-at-home dad to his four children. “The overall idea, the facility, the equipment, the ability to create and make, everything about it is exciting,” he says.
The space has a well-ventilated painting room, ideal for anyone looking to make larger art or paint furniture. There is also a designated room for “clean crafts”—scrapbooking, vinyl work, sewing, candle making and similar projects, with large open tables.
The White Bear Makerspace also has numerous machines that use new technologies. These include a computer numerical control (CNC) machine which uses preprogrammed software to dictate the movements of tools, and a Glowforge, a type of 3D laser printer.
Lisa Larson, another Makerspace client, used these machines to make a unique Father’s Day gift for her husband. Inspired by their lake home, Larson used barn wood to create a laser-cut rendering shaped exactly like their lake.
“It is a great place to try out equipment in an affordable way. Something like the Glowforge can cost $5,000 to $6,000 and that is out of my budget. The day pass works for me because it’s $25 a day when I go in,” says Larson.
Makerspace allows Larson to work with challenging materials and create in a new way. She also appreciates the Lendways’ willingness to help when she gets stuck. Whenever she struggles to work a new piece of equipment, Tom will always show her what she needs to know, so she can be informed, capable and confident with all her projects.
“The concept behind it is that we are a community. Part of being a member is people will ask questions, and we would like you to help each other. We all get stuck and we can all be beginners and people know there are many ways to do the same things. We also hope to start having membership events like barbecue nights,” says Theresa.
The Lendways focus on making a flexible and open space where people of all skill sets can come together and create. All of their tools are on wheels so that they can be moved around with ease.
“If someone needs to make a canoe or a big dresser, we have room. Same with the conference and the big room upstairs,” says Theresa.
Wessberg used the large open rooms to make furniture. He has a workspace at home, but his projects simply got too big.
“I had a large project where I was taking logs from fallen or milled trees and breaking them down … and using their equipment was awesome,” says Wessberg. “I think there is going to be such a great sense of creativity that comes from crossing platforms and sharing design ideas. [Tom and Theresa’s] attitude is wonderful. They are in it as a passion, having fun with their engineering minds. It is really a neat venue and a great resource.”