The Hamilton Spectator
THE ART OF CRAFT MAKING comes to life in Hamilton
Husband and wife team, along with business partners, have turned a raw 6,000-square-foot space into the beautiful and bustling Hamilton Craft Studios
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, furniture maker Joe Bauman and his wife, interior designer Dayna Gedney knew they needed to make a plan.
Both were self-employed with cancelled contracts at the Town of Oakville where Joe had taught woodworking courses and supervised the wood shop, while also running his own furniture design business.
Joe was filling orders for his business from a tiny studio space in his garage and heating it with the offcuts from projects. He desperately needed a bigger space as did Dayna and their then-three-year-old son.
Joe grew up on a farm near Port Dover and has fond memories of being with his parents as they worked on the farm together. He had hopes for a workspace that would allow him and Dayna to bring their son to work with them.
He also longed for the camaraderie of other working crafts people to share ideas and conversation.
He wanted to surround his son with crafts and art, “just putting it all in front of him and watching him grow.” He wanted a space big enough that others could bring their children to work too.
Dayna wanted a space for textiles, and ceramics, with room to grow other disciplines.
And they thought that if they could find a big enough space they could also start teaching again.
Surely, he thought, if we were having difficulty finding studio space others were too. Maybe if they could find a big enough place, he could put out the word to other crafts people as well.
Soon a real estate agent friend in Hamilton lined up a couple of spaces for Joe and Dayna to look at, and the search began.
The first was an 11,000 square foot space in the old Westinghouse building. The second place they saw was a three-storey warehouse building off Sherman Avenue near Barton.
Covered in sheets of aluminum siding the building required an open mind, until they went inside. From the inside Joe and Dayna could see what the siding was covering — massive windows covered three of the four walls on all three floors and despite it being filled
with random stuff being stored by the owner, Joe and Dayna were excited. Very excited. They could clearly see that the light would be incredible and that with 6,000 square feet per floor, the space would be big enough for everything they wanted to do, with space to spare.
One problem, unlike the Westinghouse space, this diamond in the rough was far more expensive.
Running the numbers Joe and Dayna knew they couldn’t rent the space on their own.
Relief came in a response from fellow furniture designer Jake Whillans who went to Sheridan College with Joe. Jake, who lives in Hamilton, was renting a studio in Etobicoke and was looking for space closer to home. Jake brought Matt MacDonald, who was also renting space in the same Etobicoke building with him. David Scola, a designer from Mississauga, rounded out the five partners who put their resources and talent together to make Hamilton Craft Studios possible.
In February 2021 the partners moved in.
They settled took over the second and third floors, removed the aluminum siding while the landlord cleared his stored items.
The second floor now houses wood working tools and equipment of every description. Individual workspaces for each of the partners are arranged around the exterior walls.
Wood working courses were designed and immediately filled up. This helped fund development on the third floor where a textiles studio and a ceramics studio were set up. Block and woodcut printing is also done on this floor and as things grow Joe says they want to add a full kitchen with space for students to make natural dyes and use them in the textile and tufting courses that are offered. Upholstery may also be on offer in the future, and it would find a place in the third-floor studios as well.
It has been one year since the five partners signed their lease but anyone who walked into the space would never believe they hadn’t been there for years. Joe says he credits a lot of it to Jake.
“I knew when Jake signed on, we could make this happen. Besides being an incredible furniture maker, like to the highest degree, when this man puts together and executes, it is executed to the highest degree and quality.”
Whatever he turns his hand to is beautiful. His design sense and the way he can look at something and problem solve is incredible, said Joe. “He has an excellent eye, and his executive functioning is off the charts.
“In addition to that the man is the hardest working man I have ever met and one of the nicest people I know.
“The speed at which things have coalesced is entirely due to that man.”
“There have been days in here where we have had between 40 to 50 people working in here between the second and third floors, and we’ve had so much creative process happening here. There is just so much joy being produced.”
Broadly, Hamilton Craft Studios’ mission statement includes accessibility, transparency, thoughtfulness, and being a good practitioner and good member of this community. The Hamilton Craft Studios membership fee is $550 per six months. You don’t need a membership to take the workshops.
To check out all courses on offer go to: hamiltoncraftstudios.com
Hamilton Craft Studios runs a sixweek summer camp program for kids.