Meet Asheville’s artist + maker spaces

Wedge Studios. Photo: Stewart Young

Wedge Studios. Photo: Stewart Young

Have you visited Ginger’s Revenge or French Broad Chocolate’s new factory + tasting room in the RAMP Studios (821 Riverside Dr.) and wondered what’s happening in the rest of the building?

Or maybe you’ve stopped by Daidala Ciders or the Asheville Guitar Bar in the Cotton Mill Studios (122 Riverside Dr.) or been to a show at the Phil Mechanic (109 Roberts St.) or the Refinery (207 Coxe Ave.).

If so, you’ve already experienced some of Asheville’s artist + makerspaces, even if you didn’t realize it. Go you. Technology + art are meeting more and more in Asheville’s studios, warehouses and workshops.

UNC Asheville’s STEAM Lab (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts + Mathematics) works out of the RAMP Building, which is also home to Better Than Unicorns’ virtual reality studio, REVOLVE, DOT Editions fine art printing, and other more conventional studio artists. Other makerspaces in town are cropping up and bringing technology and the arts together in entirely new ways.

So what’s a makerspace?

  • The term is often tied to spaces where people with a common interest, often technology, can get together to share ideas + equipment.
  • Makerspaces typically have a creative component, like a 3D printer or a photo processing lab.
  • Some are open to the public, while others might have a membership process (like Asheville Makers) or be exclusive to a particular group (like UNCA’s STEAM Studio, which is for students in the STEAM program).
  • Most importantly, Asheville artists + makers are often closely aligned and work out of the same areas.

And, this holiday season, we’re highlighting nine local centers for creativity so you can explore, get your shop on + make your own holiday presents – or get someone in your life a membership. 🎁

Meet the local arts + makerspaces in town that are spots for everything from traditional visual arts to 3D printers, workshops + more.

Make a day of it with our interactive map that plots all of the spaces you can explore in town.

After you’ve explored the map, check out each space in detail, below, and find out how to get involved – whether they’re hosting holiday pop-ups or offering memberships – so you can DIY or gift local this holiday season. ⬇️

🎨 Refinery Creator Space | 207 Coxe Ave. | 10 a.m.–5 p.m. M-F; closed weekends |

Unmissable on the South Slope, the Asheville Area Arts Council’s bright blue muraled Creator Space was previously a homeless shelter. Inside you’ll find affordable studio and gallery space, plus offerings on workshops from Local Cloth, the Asheville Darkroom + Asheville Makers (more on those below).

🎨Local Cloth | 207 Coxe Ave., Studio 11 (inside the Refinery) | 10 a.m.–5 p.m. M-F | Memberships for this fiber arts-focused organization are $30 a month and include a monthly Textile Study Group, access to the Community Dye Studio, discounts on workshops + more. Next event: Shaft Loom Weaving on Dec. 13.

🎨Asheville Darkroom | 207 Coxe Ave. (inside the Refinery) | 10 a.m.–5 p.m. M-F | One-day passes are $15, and memberships start at $25 for a half-month. If you don’t have experience in the darkroom classes are occasionally offered. Next event: Black and White Printing Workshop on Dec. 18.

🎨Asheville Makers | 207 Coxe Ave., Studio 14 (inside the Refinery) | Open hours on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. | Memberships start at $25 a month and include the use of all tools + equipment, and discounts on classes and workshops. Next open meeting: Dec. 18 from 7-9 p.m.

🎨RAMP Studios | 821 Riverside Dr. | Hours vary by business + studio | RAMP stands for “River Arts Makers Place.” It houses UNCA’s STEAM Studio (that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, by the way), which is equipped with technology for 3D printing, as well as water jet, laser, and plasma cutters. It’s also where artist Mel Chin worked with UNC Asheville Students to build the Wake sculpture earlier this year.

Studios are housed over two warehouse buildings that comprise over 100,000 square feet. A visit to RAMP might include getting new kicks at Astral Designs, printing your art at Dot Editions, stocking up on art supplies at Cheap Joe’s, seeing a performance or opening at REVOLVE, exploring a virtual space at Better Than Unicorns, and ending the day with a pint from Ginger’s Revenge or chocolate from French Broad Chocolate Factory + Tasting Room.

🎨 Phil Mechanic Studios | 109 Roberts St. | 10 a.m.–4 p.m. | This RAD building was formerly housed a construction company and a wholesale foods company. It was renovated by previous owners Mitch + Jolene Mechanic, who spent six years rehabbing the building after Jolene inherited it in 1999. DYK: Renovations included removing hundreds of meat hooks from the ceiling. 😱

In 2016, Texas-based developer James Lifshutz bought the property in for close to $2 million. Currently, Phil Mechanic still houses artists’ spaces + the Stand Gallery. Rumored plans for the building include creating residential units and adding a restaurant or brewery. It’s not known whether these potential plans would affect the artists’ spaces.

🎨 Cotton Mill Studios | 122 Riverside Dr. | Hours vary by business + studio | Visit a diverse group of working artists on open studio days, and grab a drink + see live music at the Asheville Guitar Bar, located on the first floor, or Daidala Ciders, on the second floor in artist Andy Herod’s studio.

DYK: The Cotton Mill was built in 1887 and sold to entrepreneur and philanthropist Moses Cone (who made his money from textiles, especially denim + finished clothing) and his brother Caesar in 1894. Many of the 300 employees lived above it on the slopes of Chicken Hill.

🎨 Wedge Studios | 111-129 Roberts St. | Hours vary by business + studio | Check out 20+ artist studios and then head to the bottom level to raise a glass at the Wedge Brewing or District Wine Bar or take in a meal at Bull and Beggar.

DYK: The Wedge Studios were created by sculptor + inventor John Payne, who bought the block of buildings to house his giant metal “Kinetosaur” sculptures (check one out on the parking lot side of the studios). He leased space to other artists in the community and was an early pioneer in the revival of the River Arts District.

🎨 Marshall High Studios | 115 Blannahassett Island Rd. | Hours vary by business + studio | The studios are located in the 1920s-era Marshall High School on Blannahassett Island, about 20 minutes from Asheville on the banks of the French Broad. Visit by appointment or on special event days (like the Marshall Handmade Market in November), see visual artists, crafters, massage and bodywork therapists, or take a yoga class at Magictown Movement Studio. The gymnasium doubles as an event space + concert venue.

You can often find me at the RAMP, hanging out at REVOLVE or hitting up Ginger’s Revenge or the French Broad Chocolate Factory.

I love that lots of different kinds of creating is happening at these spaces in Asheville right now, and I’m excited to see their evolution. Are you part of a makerspace or art studio in town? Reply here and tell us about your experience, or or leave us a comment on Facebook or Instagram.

– Ali

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