“This space is about 3,000 square feet,”
said The Curious Forge board member Liam Ellerby of the studio-lab
collective at 12400 Loma Rica Drive in Grass Valley. “We’re looking to
buy our own building with 6,000 square feet.
“The space where we started out three
years ago was 1,500 square feet,” he added. “So we’re doubling in size
every time we move.”
Ellerby, of Grass Valley, a metal and
glass worker, is one of 40 members who pay monthly dues (currently at
$63 plus six volunteer hours) for the privilege of 24/7 access to the
shared space and industrial-quality equipment.
Many would not be able to afford such
major items as a milling machine or pottery kiln themselves, but by
sharing the load are able to have what they need to do their art or
“We have people who are very good at
specific skills,” Ellerby said. “When you bring them all together, you
can work at combining specific materials and skill sets.”
For 2015, The Curious Force has scheduled a
wide range of classes, open houses, networking with nonprofits such as
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, hosting school visits and “Meet Your Makers”
events where members train each other in their respective specialties.
“One of the big thrusts for next year is
to become even more of a community hub,” said Ellerby, who taught a
group of Lyman Gilmore school students to weld at a recent volunteer
The first public open house for 2015 is 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 1.
“I tend to focus on the curiosity,” said
member Tricia Burbank, proprietor of Natures Treasures, a fine art gourd
maker. “I haven’t been an artist for years, but with this, I’m able to
come in and learn from others.
“There’s a lot of sharing,” added Burbank,
who lives on Banner Mountain. “We support each other and combine art
forms and come up with innovative things that you wouldn’t get if you
went to one place.”
For example, one of the members has designed clothes with built-in electronics, a skill that is also known as soft circuitry.
“One gal made a little embroidered thing
that had LEDs on it,” Ellerby said. “When she zippered up her hoodie,
all the old TV models in the area got blanked off.”
In late January, Burbank and several other
members will launch a series of classes for the public. Those include:
raku, with potter Yvon Dockter of Nevada City; bookbinding, with board
member and metalsmith Al Martinez of Grass Valley; fine art gourds, with
Burbank; and mig welding with Ellerby.
“People who hear about this get really excited,” Ellerby said. “There’s such a plethora of materials and activities.”
Recycled materials are especially prized. One member has created jeweled embossed boxes from empty Altoid tins, for example.
“We scavenge a lot at all the recyclers,” Ellerby said. “We incorporate those into art and machines.”
Community outreach includes helping other
nonprofits, such as Hospitality House, Nevada County’s homeless shelter,
with its “Empty Bowl” fundraiser in January.
“This year (2014), we gave them over 100 bowls,” Dockter said. “Next year, we’ll have even more (bowl) throwers.”
The Curious Forge, which has achieved
nonprofit status, is itself fundraising in preparation for purchasing
its first building, likely a 6,000-square-foot space on McCourtney Road,
Ellerby said. Prospective members must apply for membership and are
“We tend to get all of our members through workshops,” he said. “They meet us, and they tend to get really jazzed up.”