Hamilton Craft Studios
Hamilton has been making a name for itself as a place for artists and makers for years now, but has never really had a central space for crafts people of all levels to come together. Enter Hamilton Craft Studios, a new and massive space on Princess Street just down the road from The Cotton Factory. This revitalized factory is giving makers in the city a well-equipped community space to pursue (or begin) their practice. Hamilton Craft Studios offers something for everyone, from studio memberships to workshops, classes and kids programming. Read the interview with founding partner Dayna Gedney below to find out more about the Studios and make sure to check out their program calendar here.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
My name is Dayna Gedney and I’m the Director of Programming and Member Services, as well as a founding partner of Hamilton Craft Studios. I’m a furniture maker, textile artist, garment designer and artist. I love Art, Craft and Design; it is intrinsic to my being.
Hamilton Craft Studios is a 14,000 square foot facility covering 2 stories of a renovated, former manufacturing building located at 121 Princess St, just north of Barton off Sherman. We offer classes, workshops, drop ins, kids camps, and membership access to our studios. Hamilton Craft Studios was created to connect our community with the resources they need to create, providing an inclusive and inspiring space to practise craft.
What inspired the decision to open such a unique space in Hamilton?
As an artist and craftsperson I know how lonely and defeating it can be to create alone. It was made absolutely clear to me during the pandemic that working from home was limiting the scale and scope of my work. Studio space is often cost prohibitive, so we set to creating a system that would work for artists and hobbyists alike. Hamilton Craft Studios was built from the idea that we all deserve more space and the chance to practise, play and explore our artistic sides at our leisure.
The studios were designed to give access to machinery and space to makers and artists to pursue their art, craft and design practices in a communal setting. We opened the wood studio in May 2022 and the 3rd floor studios (Ceramics, Textiles, Printmaking, General Arts) in September 2022. The space is meant to be accessible and an integral part of the thriving Arts community here in Hamilton. We have emerging and established artists working out of the space, but we are also open to hobbyists who want access to professional machinery and workspaces. We are firm believers that craft is for everyone, you just need the right tools.
You’ve got a number of ways people can get involved or test the waters of a new passion, tell us more about your services.
The best way to get started is to pick a class and join us. All of our classes are taught by professional, talented artists and craftspeople. Most of the instructors are currently working out of Hamilton Craft Studios. We have a diverse offering in courses, from Intro to Ceramics classes, to Miniatures workshops, Furniture building classes like our Table Class and Make your Own Jeans classes in Textiles. There’s something for everyone, and something for all stages of skill and experience. Now that we’re almost a year into our programming we are starting to develop more intermediate workshops to give our members and past students opportunities to explore more advanced techniques and continue building their skillset. We also offer drop in sessions, clubs and events for people to join us in the studio.
We also have a lot of family programming, and Summer Camp for kids aged 7-12. In September we will have a full offering of afterschool programming for kids aged 7-17.
You’re located in a former factory with a massive 14,000 sq ft footprint. What was the experience of bringing such a huge space to life?
It has been a *journey* let me tell you. We’re still working on a lot of the infrastructure to help the studios run more efficiently but we have come a long way in a short time. Last year this time we didn’t even have a completed stairwell to access the upstairs studios – or bathrooms! Now that we’re up and running we’re fine tuning a lot of the workflow throughout the spaces and will be adding more storage and work surfaces for the studios on the 3rd floor.
The landlord and his general contractor did a phenomenal job of repairing the space while maintaining the visual appeal of the manufacturing history of the building. There are quite a few original fixtures that have been left in place and new additions were made with intention and consideration. We’re really pleased with the space, it honestly just gets better and better.
You’re located on Princess Street, north of Barton off Sherman, what do you love about this part of the city?
This area of Hamilton is seeing some really beautiful development. The Playhouse Cinema, Pinch (coming soon!), are some of our favourites. Working with the Barton Village BIA last fall for and art installation was great. Having excellent neighbours is such a win for us. The residential neighbours and the surrounding community have really rallied behind us. We’ve felt welcome and what we are trying to do feels seen and appreciated. Hamilton Craft Studios is so much more than a business I’ve been dreaming about for 10 years. This is a real opportunity to create space for people, to share in the joy of making and the autonomy it generates in each individual that partakes in the community we are building. I think there’s big things in the future, not just for HCS but the whole neighbourhood.
How would you describe Hamilton’s arts scene?
Thriving, Active, Hungry. I don’t think it’s just a post-pandemic phenomenon either. The need for this kind of communal space existed long before 2020. Giving artists an opportunity to develop their practices, while also supporting them with paid teaching opportunities is integral to what we’re trying to accomplish. There’s a whole internal economy happening in the studios as artists collaborate, share work and share their expertise through teaching courses at the studio.
I was invited to jury for this year’s Hamilton Arts Awards and the level of and diversity of talent is incredible. I can’t wait to see how HCS will serve the arts community over the years.
Any advice to other small businesses wanting to open up shop in the city?
I know it’s annoying – but – write the business plan. Make it thorough and well considered. Spend the time to work through all your big ideas and put them to paper. The work you do will pay dividends down the road.
Find a commercial realtor you trust.
Find entrepreneurs/business owners you admire, reach out and make friends. There is room for everyone, we are all in this together and there is lots of room for all of us to succeed here.
Keep community at the heart of everything you do.