Working in historic preservation and salvage/reuse means having a good grasp of material science and an eye for craftsmanship. One of the biggest hurdles of working in these fields is assuring people who own vintage buildings or who do a lot of building that they can easily repair, restore, and reuse older materials. In fact, these materials usually have several lives left in them. But as much as I hammer home this point (cymbal crash!), even I don’t get nearly enough time to play around with many of the tools out there that can help make restoration and reuse projects even easier, not to mention the time to stoke the coals of my creative side.
Enter MAKEcation. This is essentially two days of nonstop building, learning and playing, and when you’re invited as a special guest, it’s rude to say no, right? I was asked to come and teach a workshop last year at the inaugural MAKEcation, and I remember thinking, “Is this a real thing? We just get to build stuff all weekend and in the evenings, we learn about whiskey and grilling and take a boat ride after a private concert?” It’s a thing. When I was asked back, rest assured I immediately rearranged my five jobs to make it work. MAKEcation is like camp for curious and creative adults with some of the best makers in the country. At a really nice hotel.
The purpose of the event, which lasts 2-1/2 days, is to reward loyal Craftsman Club members for their support and to show active DIY bloggers what Craftsman tools can do. An added bonus of coming two years in a row was seeing many of the ideas that came out of last year manifest through new tool designs and adjustments. Participants were shown all of the upgrades and allowed to try them out. Honestly, I fell in love with several tools I didn’t even know I wanted. My kingdom for more workspace in Chicago because…lathe. Sigh.
Arrive in Brooklyn early to explore solo for a few hours.
- Walk Williamsburg
- Buy a Rocky Balboa onesie for my niece
- Have incredible pizza and a lager in the courtyard of Fornino’s
- Return to hotel for cocktails by the saltwater pool (as one does)
- Head to Brooklyn Brewery for a private tour and more New York style pizza and beer (Chicagoans have no threshold for pizza consumption)
- Get the only decent night’s sleep on this trip
- 7am breakfast in the hotel
- Head over to Villain, a maker space in Brooklyn that includes all the tools and stations we need, as well as a gigantic bar (for AFTER we used the nail guns and miter saws)
- Make our own belts and leather cuffs under the expert tutelage of Will Lisak from ETWAS
- Make a coat rack by repurposing hammers with DIY Guru Rob North
- Take apart and rebuild carburetors with Max Herman and Sean Brayton from the Oilers Club
- Get an incredibly detailed mixology lesson from the lovely Lacy Hawkins, an award winning bartender from the Clover Club
- Return to the hotel for dinner on the rooftop, delicious drinks, and a private concert by country star Eric Paslay, who did my favorite cover of Wicked Game, ever
- Eventually…five minutes of sleep
- Up early for breakfast in the hotel (ow, but yum, but ow)
- Head over to World Maker Faire for the morning with blurry eyes that soon widen from creative overdrive
- Take the shuttle on back to Villain to make pizza cutter and bottle opener handles using a lathe taught by Rob Johnstone and Dan Cary from Woodworker’s Journal (I want one, I want one, I want one. Please. Please. Please.)
- Make a toolbox with a drawer and a bottle opener with the incredibly talented and kind Karl Champley to lug around some of our spoils when we get home.
- Oh, then we went to go see a private motorcycle stunt show by ILLConduct. Just for us. Because, why not?
- Then another dinner by the pool and Coney Island Magician and Performer Adam Realman, who swallows swords and cigarettes and shoves spikes into his face and resembles Tom Waits.
- Thank the Gods that your flight is late enough that you don’t need to leave the hotel until 11:30am, intend to explore in the morning but instead sleep until 10am, watch HBO in a fog for another hour, pack frantically, and unceremoniously run out the door to meet your driver.
- Smile as you collapse into your window seat, sleep until drooling.
So, this was a dream trip. Assuming this happens a third year, sign up to be a member of the Craftsman Club if you haven’t already (it’s free), and enter to win as many times as you’re able. Remember: camp for adults with great food and liquor and a nice hotel and bizarre and ridiculously entertaining side trips and performances. Oh, and they ship everything you make back to you and every single thing on the trip is paid for. Yes. I’ll see you next year.