Think of Forge, the soon-to-open co-working space on Broad, as a gym for artists and makers. But instead of treadmills and yoga classes, Forge will offer soldering irons, sewing machines, and workshops on how to build things from wood, among other features.
The art space and fabrication shop at 2493 Broad will offer several levels of memberships, and members will be able to come in at their leisure and use equipment ranging from metal- and wood-working tools to screen-printing equipment to 3D printers.
"If you're into building furniture or jewelry, this can be a place to come and blow off steam after work or on the weekends. Or if you're really working on something you want to sell, we'll have business and entrepreneurial workshops to help with that," said Forge founder Elizabeth Lemmonds.
Lemmonds has been working on getting Forge open for about a year, and she says, if all goes as planned, the space should be open next month. Opening a co-working fabrication shop is a dream for Lemmonds, who previously helped launch new companies at Start Co. and, before that, ran a grassroots arts organization called Lantana Projects.
"There's always been this part of me that is obsessed with people making things, and I'm not even that good at making things myself. But I'm mesmorized by watching [artist] Eli [Gold] weld or watching the 3D printer print some architect's vision," Lemmonds said.
She'd heard about co-working spaces in other cities, but they weren't coming to Memphis. So she took things into her own hands and secured a two-story space on Broad.
"I would see these coming into top-tier cities, and they had no plans for Memphis. I thought, why not Memphis? Why not now?" she said.
Downstairs at Forge is mostly reserved for hands-on arts and crafts. There's a large warehouse space with stations for members to work on small projects with clay, textiles, sewing, or screen-printing. A separate room is reserved for artists who weld, do wood-work, or anything "loud, dirty, and dusty," Lemmonds said.
There's also a conference room/art gallery downstairs near the entrance. Currently, a show by the Caritas Village artist-in-residence Bill Piacesi is on display.
"I wanted a conference room for additional revenue opportunities, and because you're probably not going to organically walk into a maker space on Broad. But if I can get you in here for something else and give you a chance to see what's happening, that's my way to get more eyes on what's going on," Lemmonds said.
Upstairs, there will be a co-working space with wifi, desks, software, and white boards. And that space will house the 3D printer, a large format printer, and a vinyl plotter that is used to cut window decals.
Forge will also host community workshops that will be open to the general public, no membership required.
"We're taking requests for workshops that fit into this whole DIY ethos," Lemmonds said. "We've had people say they want workshops on home-brewing and floral arranging. And maybe even a zombie apocalypse workshop with basic survival skills."
Much of the initial funding for Forge has come from crowdsourcing. So far, Lemmonds has raised $5,700 of her $6,000 goal on GoFundMe.com. The fund-raising campaign is still open, and Lemmonds said any donations that go beyond the goal will be used to purchase additional equipment for members. The campaign can be found at gofundme.com/forgememphis.