Yes. Apparently, fiber and textiles are good here. One of the cool things about living in Portland is uncovering yet another thriving sector of the art/design/craft world.
This week I got a glimpse into Portland’s flourishing fiber/textile realm during a tour of A Gathering of Stitches, a new maker space for fiber and textile craftspeople scheduled to open in August.
Samantha Hoyt Lindgren’s space is located at 54 Cove St., the former home of Running With Scissors, which has moved into bigger digs a block away on Anderson Street. The Cove Street building also houses PortFiber.
Located in a former tractor supply building in east Bayside, A Gathering of Stitches has nine maker spaces, of which seven are filled. The bright, open room includes a wet area for dyeing and silkscreen work. There is also a dedicated room for workshops, for which Lindgren has already established a strong lineup of teachers.
The maker space will be used for art, crafts and commercial work. (One of the tenants will be producing dog collars.)
A cluster of talent
Lindgren, co-owner of Rabelais (a cookbook store formerly of Portland, now of Biddeford), has high hopes for her space, pointing to Portland’s strong fabric community, which has some impressive success stories. A brief sampling of some of Portland’s textile and design notables includes:
In addition, MECA has a new textile & fashion design program under the direction of Anne Emlein.
Clearly, Portland is enjoying a concentration of textile talent, a "cluster" in economic development speak. Lindgren is uncertain of the reason, she just knows that there is a lot of good work being done and that it is a strong, supportive community.
The right space & location
Lindgren, a magazine photo editor in another life, made the move to Maine several years ago from Brooklyn. (Before Brooklyn was hip, she notes.) She first looked at maker space in an out-of-town mill complex, but learned that potential sub-leasers preferred a Portland location.
“I’ve found that Portland is a great place to start something,” she says. “If you have an idea and the will to do something about it you can get it done.”
A Gathering of Stiches’ spaces range from $230 to $406 per month, with sizes from 140 to 244 square feet. Lindren's 4,400-square foot space will feature communal equipment, including sergers, knitting and quilting machines, screen printing gear, cutting tables, ironing equipment and other machines I don’t understand.
Lindgren is currently crowd sourcing for additional equipment via indiegogo. The campaign ends on July 20.
Lindgren’s models include:
Beehive Sewing in Northhampton, Mass.
Gather Here, a fabric, yarn and fibers store and work space in Cambridge, Mass.