After my first year on Bainbridge Island, I realized there was so much happening here, that try as I might, I hadn’t even scratched the surface. That’s when the idea to start The Island Wanderer blog hit me—it would be a great way to experience and discover the island community, as well as share what I learned with locals and visitors alike. I made a list of places, businesses, people, etc. that I wanted to interview, BARN was at the top of the list, however, I found myself concentrating on articles about upcoming events and the businesses/people involved—never getting to BARN. Then a wonderful thing happened, Carolyn Goodwin at BARN contacted me about doing an article, I was incredibly flattered, and excited, and of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
Carolyn is the Marketing Director, and has been part of BARN since the very beginning, having served on the board during the developmental stages and assisting in the fundraising. Prior to taking a tour of the facility, we sat in Carolyn’s office for a brief chat, where she told me how things got started. The idea for BARN originated in 2012, when a few local artisans and craftsmen wanted to build a non-profit organization to practice and teach their respective crafts in a hands-on environment. They rented a 2,500 square foot facility and began to plan out what they wanted and needed this organization to look like.
A community fundraising campaign, fittingly named the “BARNraising”, began, and thanks to the generosity of more than 500 private donors, they raised $8.5 million. In 2015, BARN purchased two acres at 8890 Three Tree Lane NE to build their permanent artisan center. Internationally known Bainbridge architect, Johnpaul Jones generously donated his time to design BARN’s new facility. PHC handled construction. Hundreds of volunteers were at hand to assist with creating the studios, organize the classes, and plan and equip the space. The first studio completed was the woodworking studio, where volunteers donated over 6,000 hours to construct all the various cabinetry that would be needed throughout the facility. BARN opened its doors in June 2017—the 25,000 square-foot building houses eleven studios, a Great Room for large events, a commercial kitchen and a Common area where participants can relax and share ideas. Each studio offers classes for beginners or those wishing to expand their existing discipline(s) and technique(s).
Our first stop on the facility tour was the Writer’s Studio, a bright open space that offers a variety of resources and classes to inspire and teach writers of all skill levels. We then took a quick peek into the Great Room, a 53’ by 25’ open space that can accommodate chair seating for up to 170 people, and table/banquet seating for up to 80 people. With its high ceilings and tall windows, it’s a perfect venue to hold your next meeting or event. In addition, there is a large video screen and optional speakers’ platform, as well as a movable wall, which accesses the BARN’s commercial kitchen.
We headed to the Kitchen Arts Studio—this is an impressive space that would delight both novice and professional chefs alike. It’s fully equipped with commercial ovens and refrigerators, as well as a rainbow array of Kitchen Aid mixers, a commercial Hobart mixer, and every possible cooking accoutrement one would need to create their culinary masterpieces. Movable work stations equipped with burners are available for those who wish to take classes, in addition, the space is available to use in conjunction with the Great Room. The Kitchen Arts Studio is also available for groups of friends and neighbors who wish to gather together and share their talents, as well as entrepreneurs who wish to incubate food product ideas.
After the Kitchen Arts Studio, we headed into the Electronic and Technical Arts Studio, where I was faced with a room full of devices, most of which were completely alien to me, thank goodness Carolyn was there to explain it all. The ETA studio focuses on rapid prototyping and fabrication, 3D printing, laser cutting and etching, as well as embedded electronics and software. If you’re interested in learning and/or experimenting in all things electronic and technical, this is the place to be.
It was on to the Metal Fabrication Studio, the majority of the equipment in this studio can be attributed to a wonderful benefactor and the current metal fabrication lead, Peter Moseley. Peter, a retired mechanical engineer and avid machinist and creator, whose talents include building large scale model train locomotives, was trying to figure out where to put his extensive collection of machining equipment when he and his wife, Jacki, were deciding to move to the island from California. When Peter learned of BARN’s need for machine shop, sheet metal and welding equipment he decided to donate his shop. Peter’s shop included a CNC milling machine and BARN has since acquired a CNC lathe. The team is also making their own CNC plasma cutter for the welding shop. The metal fabrication studio consists of several sub-studios; Machining, Welding, Sheet Metal, Forging and Knife making, and soon foundry (forging, blacksmithing, foundry and knife making are held off-site at Alchemy Industrial Arts). If it’s made out of metal, you can create it here.
Our next two stops were the Jewelry and Glass Arts Studios. The sheer joy of learning how to create, or hone your existing skills in the delicate art of fine jewelry, lapidary (the art of cutting, polishing and engraving precious stones), and fine metal arts can be found in the Jewelry Studio. Creating beauty through glass, whether it be a window, a sculpture, a mosaic, a plate or bowl, can be found in the Glass Arts Studio, you’ll learn all there is to know about working with glass.
Upon entering the next studio, I was greeted with the sweet aroma of freshly cut wood, and although I was prepared to be impressed with this space, I just wasn’t prepared for how impressed I’d be… The Woodworking Studio consists of two sections; an enclosed 1,050 square foot bench room for hand tool use, and a 3,500 square foot main shop loaded with every imaginable power and hand tool, as well as multiple lathes. It also includes a dedicated space for repairing and building small boats. This amazing community woodshop welcomes woodworkers of every skill level throughout the island and the West Sound area, and offers access to equipment and tools that many professional woodworking shops lack.
“BARN’s mission is to build and support an open, intergenerational community of artisans and makers who are dedicated to learning, teaching, sharing, and inspiring one another with creativity, craftsmanship and community service.”
We stopped at the Printmaking and Book Arts Studios next, where you can learn various techniques such as monotype, linoleum block printing, collage, dry point etching, shellac plates, and chine collé. Cabinets filled with antique type, as well as an old letter press line the walls—a large Takach etching press, sits proudly in the center of the room. The art of bookmaking has seen a surge of new interest on a global level, and the Book Arts studio is dedicated to becoming a major regional center in this field.
We moved on to the Fiber Studio, where workshops in weaving, print and pattern design, dying, sewing, surface design, felting, knitting, spinning, embellishment, doll construction, and lace making are available. In addition, they partner with the Suquamish Tribe to teach traditional fiber weaving classes, and they’ve begun their own “dyeing” garden, where they grow plants used in making natural fiber dyes. On display in the studio is Baeven Hoit’s 2019 Trashion Show entry, which won 3rd place in the Couture Category. The skirt of Baeven’s creation was made from soda can pull tabs, in a chain-mail type design; knowing this 30” x 70” portion of her dress would take an enormous supply of tabs, she turned to her friends and family at BARN, and soon the tabs flowed in (if you’d like to learn more about Trashion, click here).
Our last stop was the Media Arts & BCB Studio where instruction in audio and video production, community podcasting and social media are available. They are also the home of the Best of BCB (Bainbridge Community Broadcasting), a non-profit, community podcasting project.
BARN also offers a variety of youth programs, including a great selection of Summer Youth Classes, Teen Nights, Girls that Code, and internship opportunities. In addition, they are active in giving back to those throughout the Island and surrounding communities, such as the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project and the Churchmouse Charity Knitting Circle. Their machinists have assisted in upgrading the Battle Point Ritchie Telescope, and the woodworkers built benches for the Japanese Exclusion Memorial. To support BARN, please click here.
BARN is constantly evolving with the help of their educators, teachers, guest speakers, and the community of participants and volunteers, they are proud to announce that they will be licensed as a school this fall 2019, and will offer certification classes in a variety of courses. BARN is also a perfect place to hold your company’s team-building exercises.
8890 Three Tree Lane NE
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Hours: Front door open Mon – Sat 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Open for Sunday Tours 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Member fob access 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM Daily
***BARN Images by Rick Gordon and provided by Carolyn Goodwin. All other images by Margaret Millmore