LAS CRUCES – A woman who just moved to town was building herself a headboard, a group of farmers were constructing a composting component and about two dozen kids were tinkering with electronics in an effort to learn about robotics.
It was Saturday afternoon at Cruces Creatives, 205 E. Lohman Ave., in Las Cruces.
The maker’s space, where members can create about anything they desire, from quilts to videos to marketing materials, will be celebrating its one-year anniversary later this month.
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A group of sustainable farmers is building a component that has the ability to compost meat and dairy, one of many projects at Cruces Creatives.
Bethany Freudenthal, Las Cruces Sun-News
Surrounded by PVC pipe, weed barrier, wire and hosing, Sandra Jones said the maker’s space is the perfect place for her group of sustainable farmers to meet in order to complete their project.
“It’s a central location so we’re not having to worry about going to somebody else’s farm and all of the tools and everything, the supplies that we need and the space is here,” she said.
On Saturday, Jones was helping to construct a Johnson Su bioreactor, which is a composting mechanism that can break down meat and dairy products. The funding for the construction project is part of a grant her group was awarded.
“A lot of times when you’re composting, you can’t compost meat or dairy related items, but this is a way to actually break those items down and be able to use them for composting and it has beneficial fungi and bacteria that’s created from the composting system,” Jones said.
A place to rest
Misty Adams creates her own headboard at Cruces Creatives.
Bethany Freudenthal, Las Cruces Sun-News
Over in the wood shop, Misty Adams was busy drilling holes into wooden posts and pieces of metal, which, once completed, will become her bed’s headboard.
New to Las Cruces, Adams said she decided to build a headboard because everything she likes is mid-century modern and a bit out of her price range if she were to purchase in a store.
Adams had to leave her tools in Ohio, where she came from, and Cruces Creatives has given her the opportunity to make something she’d normally build at home.
“It was one of the first things I checked on when I was moving here, whether or not there was a maker’s space because I knew that I wouldn’t have all of my tools here,” Adams said.
Adams, who’s made chicken coops, porches and doors, and worked on scooters and cars, believes everyone should get involved with a maker’s space.
“Most of our educational schools, our junior highs and our high schools, no longer have shop classes, and everyone can benefit from knowing how a tool operates, what it’s used for and how not to break things … and you get to make cool things,” she said.
Mountains and glasses
Reese Luckie, chief 3D technician at Cruces Creatives, gets to see something cool come out of the maker’s space’s 3D printer. He even made his own glasses.
Bethany Freudenthal, Las Cruces Sun-News
Reese Luckie works at Cruces Creates. He’s the 3D technician and every day gets to see cool things being printed.
One of his favorite projects was a printed version of the Organ Mountains.
“They were printed in gold and it had a really cool gold flake sheen on it. It looked really beautiful,” Luckie said.
The ornaments eventually were given to the New Mexico governor.
Luckie said the front door handle to the 3D print shop was his creation.
“That was just kind of a spur of the moment type deal,” he said. “We weren’t going to have access to a color printer anymore, so I just wanted to get something out really fast and that worked really well.”
Though Cruces Creatives no longer has a multi-color, multi-reel 3D printer, the space does have eight kinds of printers available for use, including a resin printer that uses ultraviolet light, a 36-by-24-inch laser cutter and engraver, soldering irons as well as electrical components and testing equipment.
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Luckie also made his own nylon glasses using a 3D printer.
“It’s made with I think weed-wacker filament, similar stuff. These are about $20 a pair in cost, so I’ve had them for about three months,” he said. “They’re getting beat up, but I can fall asleep on them, not worry about breaking them.”
Luckie said he enjoys teaching 3D printing to children, not only because it’s a good way to occupy time, but because it’s a trade that could help some find employment.
The printer is just one of many items that help the community, he said.
“Having tools readily available to members of the community can be very beneficial if somebody has a business plan but they may not be sure how to achieve that or what tools they need with that,” Luckie said.
The back corner of the Cruces Creatives building houses The Hub Bike Shop, which offers free and low-cost bike repairs to the community, and gives away free bikes to children, the homeless and veterans.
Build it and they will come
Cruces Creatives is the brainchild of Las Cruces artist Lea Wise-Surguy, who spent 10 years planning and plotting out her dream of creating a community of makers.
“I was in my undergrad working on a master of fine arts, and was realizing when I was going to graduate that I was going to lose access to the space, the tools and the community that made it possible for me to create,” she said.
That’s when she started researching, and realized it wasn’t just an artist problem, Wise-Surguy said.
“It was a community problem, that we don’t have these kinds of spaces to be able to basically co-own tools, because they’re just so expensive, and space is so expensive,” she said.
But more important than the space or the tools, she said, is building a community of people.
“I like to look at it this way. An individual can make a tiny house on their own. That tiny house is really, really cool, but if you compare that next to a city … that’s the difference between a solo working artist — they can do really cool things — but then you get a whole community of makers together, they can do the unbelievable,” Wise-Surguy said.
Wise-Surguy called the past year “absolutely amazing.”
“The real part of what’s made it possible has been the community. I mean hundreds of local community members coming together. From one side of the building to the other, almost every single item has been either donated, or on loan from a community member,” Wise-Surguy said.
Some of the areas inside Cruces Creatives:
- Textile, which has sewing, knitting, fashion and textile equipment
- Audio-Visual provides photography, audio and video recording equipment.
- Electronics carries equipment used for soldering, circuitry 3D printing and laser cutting.
- Woodshop has sanders, power tools, handheld tools and various table machines.
- Bike shop is where bike owners are welcome to repair their bikes and or assemble their own bike parts.
Exploring your creativity
Cruces Creatives will celebrate its first-year anniversary June 29. Those who become a member before then will always be considered a founding member.
Membership fees are $35 per month or $385 per year. Day passes for five or 10 days are also available, Wise-Surguy said.
“That’s especially for folks who live out of town and there are only a few tools they can come in and use,” she said.
There’s also the opportunity to volunteer three hours per week for free membership, Wise-Surguy said.
After June 29, the monthly membership fee will go up to $45 per month.
During its first year, 120 people have become members of Cruces Creatives.
In addition to monthly and yearly membership, and day passes, there are many classes available to members of the public, for a one-time fee, depending on the class.
To donate items, Wise-Surguy said they accept items on-site, and there’s also a list of needed items on the Cruces Creatives website.
For information about the maker’s space, visit www.crucescreatives.org.
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