This summer, Druid City Makerspace opened up in Temerson Square, creating a community for those passionate about arts and crafts. The space provides many different machines to hone in on a specific type of art, as well as classes for both kids and adults.
Owner, Tiffany Amirkhanian, lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Oregon before moving to Tuscaloosa, where her husband received a job at The University of Alabama. “When we moved here I was a stay-at-home mom to two, with our third on the way. Our family loves to hike, so this has been a great place to land,” Amirkhanian said.
The idea for Druid City Makerspace came from a “late-night COVID-19 conversation” that spurred off of the benefits of hobbies. Amirkhanian obtained everything she needed to create stained glass from her grandfather, so she and her husband began to teach themselves the hobby in their garage during quarantine. Simultaneously, they were also learning about 3D printing. This, paired with Amirkhanian’s desire to go back to work, turned Druid City Makerspace into a reality.
The first step in creating DCM was gathering as much hobby equipment throughout the state of Alabama as she could. Amirkhanian’s favorite machine? The laser. “I can personalize or make almost anything with that thing. Currently, I’ve been etching slates for awards, but I’ve made signs, puzzles, jewelry, and teaching manipulatives,” she shared. “It can be used in such diverse ways!”
For Amirkhanian, family and community have been two of the most important things to her in starting Druid City Makerspace. “We are a family business, so this summer my kids spent a fair amount of time here. My younger two are generally up for trying anything artistic, but my oldest, not so much. One day, he stopped playing video games so he could try and paint a sunset. It was just a really neat experience to see him put himself out there.
“I think most of us don’t really attempt new things, because we are scared we aren’t going to be good at them immediately. The Makerspace is really a place to come and try and learn, and realize that it’s okay to try new things and not succeed immediately. I’ve seen that in my classes as well. All the little moments, where we have gotten community support have been really wonderful as well. Treats from Strange Brew, equipment donated, words of support from friends, strangers, and other business owners – it all means quite a lot to me,” she said.
“Owning this business and meeting so many people in this community has been such a wonderful experience for me. This means the fellow business owners in the area, fiber artists that stop by to work together on Monday evenings (free and open to the community), people coming in to see what exactly is a Makerspace, members, artists, and creators. We just really strive to be a welcoming place in the community, and the community has really welcomed us!”
Since teaching herself and learning more about stained glass, it’s become her favorite art form to work with. “It’s sentimental to me, but also just a very satisfying hobby – each step of the process. I have pieces from my grandfather, and it’s very special to me that I can carry on a hobby that he did. It’s even more special to be teaching that dying art form to others. Plus, I love seeing what others create. When I teach a stained glass class, I pick the pattern, but you pick the glass – there are so many beautiful pieces that get created, in color palettes I might not have considered.”
What’s next for Druid City Makerspace? Their newest class will be mosaics, recycled from stained glass scraps, starting in October or November. They also currently have spooky season stained glass! “We are always trying to offer more to the community, this means we’re always looking to expand what we can offer,” shared Amirkhanian. “ If you’re a local artist interested in teaching, we’d love to host you!” Druid City Makerspace is located at 409 23rd Avenue.