Minneapolis and St. Paul Maker Movement
The production of artisanal goods is alive and well in the Twin Cities
When I was a kid, I used to love making stuff. My brother and I spent hours in the basement constructing elaborate Lego structures, including a multi-level cruise ship to sail an ocean of red shag carpet. We once dug ourselves a swimming pool, lined it in plastic, and filled it with hose water (it was large enough for one child to stand in, up to her waist). We filmed stop-action Super 8 movies starring Cabbage Patch dolls and “helped” my dad build a shed with our pint-size Handy Andy saws and hammers. When I got older, I sewed clothing, batiked fabric, threw pots, and hammered metal jewelry. Once, before I’d enrolled in 11-grade chemistry class, I tried to make soap and scared my family half to death when the lye mixture reacted with the aluminum pot and started “boiling,” releasing hydrogen gas.
Adult life leaves less time for such pursuits. These days, my husband and I joke that we don’t even “make” dinner anymore so much as assemble it.
Fortunately, members of the so-called maker movement are picking up our slack. Those who we formerly called artists, designers, or carpenters are now categorized under the more general term “maker,” whether they’re making furniture, making software, or just making ideas and telling someone else to actually produce them.
Among the most literal of today’s makers is Minneapolis’ Andy George, host of the video series How to Make Everything and subject of this month’s First Person interview. George attempts to craft everyday items from scratch—say, a pair of eyeglasses—starting with the raw materials (in this case, going so far as to procure sand, limestone, and hardwood ash to create his own glass). Items seemingly as simple as a suit or a sandwich took George several months and thousands of dollars to produce. Watch a few episodes and you’ll be awed by the knowledge and skill it takes to make even the basic items we so often take for granted.
PORTRAIT BY erika ludwig HAIR AND MAKEUP BY Margo Gordon
Andy George photo by jeremy nelson
For more on Andy George, check out our First Person interview.