DIY Educational Center Craftsman Avenue Takes Hold in Gowanus

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Crafty Brooklyn types still pining for 3rd Ward will find some consolation in Gowanus’s latest educational maker space Craftsman Avenue.

Launched in late July, the fledgling handcrafting spot is off to a promising start. Offerings so far include individual maker classes for chocolate, candy, candles and sushi along with a host of others ranging from ceramics, woodworking and knife sharpening to product and motorcycle design, all taught by instructors drawn from the area’s creative pool of makers.

The project is the brainchild of Taras Kravtchouk, a personal side project of his eight-year-old design and branding firm Gravity Hill, which he brought to New York from Stockholm four years ago. “A lot of my friends, they wanted to learn something hands on, so me and my business partner, we thought, ‘Why don’t we make a space where you can learn basically anything — from leatherwork to jewelry design to bike building and chocolate making.’”

The original concept was to serve as an online matchmaking space between makers and maker wannabes, where makers would hold workshops at their own space, but Kravtchouk soon realized he wanted to try a direction that was less virtual and more on the ground. “My background is in digital design, and after a few years I got bored just designing on a screen and wanted to move to making something with your hands, which is where all the magic is.”

While Gravity Hill primarily designs online product and branding experiences, according to Kravtchouk, typically the firm would roll out one or two ventures a year as start-up site projects. With these as precedent, the vision became: “Let’s make a space where we connect local Brooklyn artists and makers from different fields and just have nice intimate dinner-like experiences to learn something new. Small classes between six to eight people. Let people try a new skill or craft without any commitments.”

And so far Brooklyn has been receptive. Feedback has included: “This is like a mini 3rd Ward. … We’ve been missing this. … We want a space like this where we can come by and work on our own ideas or learn something from a craftsman or artist. … Wow, I had no idea I was going to be able to make my own ring in three hours.”

“That’s the kind of spark we want to initiate,” says Kravtchouk. “We want you to leave with a physical product after each class so you feel that, ‘Oh, wow, I did not just learn theory, I actually have a product that I made.’”

To accommodate interest and demand, Kravtchouk sees Craftsman Avenue expanding soon, with hopes of taking on a bigger space that would allow for more classes over longer stretches of time along with rentable co-making space. Plans for raising seed funding, building a team and scaling the business are in the works.

Currently one- and two-day classes are on offer, with prices ranging from $80 to $220, but for the remainder of September, Craftsman Avenue would like to extend a 20% discount to Edible readers with the code EDIBLECRAFTSMAN20.

Still want to find out more? Look for Craftsman Avenue on September 26 at Artists and Fleas Williamsburg, where they’ll be giving live demos in woodworking and making chocolate. We’ll likely see you there.

Photos courtesy of Craftsman Avenue.

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