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Baltimore’s Makers Scene Encourages Visitors to Experience The Real Charm City

May 11, 2019 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Thanks to Baltimore’s storied history of milling and manufacturing, the presence of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and now, a designation from Popular Mechanics as one of the best maker cities in the U.S., the city’s maker community is reason alone to visit. In addition to creating quality goods, the city’s craftspeople, artisans and makers curate workshops and events that teach new skills and provide hands-on ways to explore Baltimore.

Travelers really looking to see, taste, smell, touch and hear the city can activate all five senses with these uniquely Charm City experiences:

Sight

Watch masterpieces come to life with the help of these female makers and businesswomen:

· Papercut artist and MICA alum Annie Howe, of Annie Howe Papercuts, makes prints, laser cuts and ornaments for sale, and has created art for such local institutions as Union Craft Brewery, Huckle’s Gourmet Foods and Chesapeake Theater Company. Annie’s workshops in her Hamilton-Lauraville neighborhood studio allow locals and visitors alike to discover the affordable but visually-striking artform for themselves.

· DramaMama Bookshop understands the power of written word, which is what inspired writer, owner and operator Alisa Brock, to custom make laser cut journals, notepads and specialty books with wood and cardstock. Her Wine & Bind workshops at Baltimore’s incubator space Open Works introduces attendees to traditional book binding, long-stitch book binding and design with a variety of materials. Her own work is stocked in nearly a dozen area establishments, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Greedy Reads, Dovecote Café, Red Emma’s Bookstore and Knits, Soy & Metal.

Taste

With a booming food & drink scene, it’s no surprise that Baltimoreans are crafting beverages and treats with the same careful attention to detail as its artists:

· Named the city’s Best Distillery in 2018 by Baltimore Magazine, Old Line Spirits was founded by Baltimoreans, whiskey lovers and former Navy buddies Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins. Big believers in Baltimore, Marc and Arch converted a former commercial laundry facility in Highlandtown into their distillery in 2017. They have since opened The Ready Room Cocktail Bar, making it the city’s first distillery to open an adjacent cocktail bar, and continue to add to their collection of award-winning American Single Malt Whiskeys and Aged Caribbean Rums. Tours and tastings are just $5 for visitors looking to wet their whistles with some of Baltimore’s finest spirits.

· Have a sweet tooth? Natasha’s Just Brittle can help with that. Helmed by Natasha Wainwright, a Baltimore native who has been baking treats since she was a preteen, her Lauraville-Hamilton neighborhood store is open Thursday through Sunday and sells brittle, sweet-savory combos like chocolate-dipped potato chips and bacon and more. In addition to her role as a candy maker, Natasha aims to support her fellow culinary entrepreneurs with the B’More Made with Pride Commercial Kitchen, a shared-use food production facility rented out by the hour, which also hosts events like brittle bark and wine pairings, cake-making and tasting and healthy children’s cooking classes.

Smell

Expert gardeners and aromatherapists can help you stop and smell the roses, or the essential oils, at these calming Baltimore retail spaces:

· Baltimore’s botanical paradise B. Willow will satisfy any millennial’s plant craze— and their Instagram feed. But, B. Willow is far more than a pretty space. The female-owned and -operated company is fulfilling its goal of bringing nature indoors, with two retail locations in Remington and Canton, plant design for any indoor space, floral design for special events and local collaborations, like the rooftop Garden Room it designed at Baltimore’s newest boutique, Hotel Revival. Opening a sister shop called Florigen at the new and improved 230-year-old Broadway Market in Fell’s Point, B. Willow welcomes customers to get their own hands dirty through a number of initiatives: at its planting table, staff teach customers how to pot their plant; and workshop events include Plant Care 101, Cacti Building and Boutique Creation.

· Custom aromatherapy bar SoBotanical creates the majority of its small-batch oils in-store to better guarantee their commitment to 100% pure, genuine, chemical-free essential oils. With the help of the aromatherapist, visitors can blend their own scents to best suit their self-expression, needs – from restoration to pain relief – and of course, olfactory preference.

Touch

In a technology-obsessed world, these makers carry on the importance of tactile craftsmanship and encourage new craftspeople to discover the power of their hands to create:

· Baltimore Print Studio brings letterpress and screen-printing to the masses thanks to its public access studio offering workshops, hourly studio rental, design services and commercial printing. With workshops like ‘Screenprinting on T-Shirts,’ travelers can learn a new skill while making their own souvenir to bring home. Co-owners Kyle Van Horn and Kim Bentley both work at MICA and are full-time printmakers and graphic designers themselves, printing posters, shirts, bags and more for purchase.

· Baltimore’s makers aren’t only creating art, they’re creating spaces where others can tap into their potential, like the Station North Tool Library, where aspiring or established creators can borrow tools, access a public woodworking shop and learn such crafts as knife and skateboard making. Lynn McCann and Chris Lavoie run the non-profit space, offering 3,000 tools, 30 classes and an inclusive atmosphere that empowers learning at all skill levels.

Sound

We couldn’t talk about Baltimore’s maker scene without talking about its music makers and spoken word artists. Spaces like Motor House, a non-profit performance space, gallery and arts hub complement the city’s historically diverse and experimental music scene, which was one of its greatest charms long before Rolling Stone dubbed it the best music scene in the country (in 2008). Thanks to these efforts, Baltimore continues to be an inclusive space for artists and visitors:

· The seven-year-old collective Boom Bap Society takes the stage at The Windup Space every third Tuesday of the month as an onstage jam session. Producer Wendel Patrick and composer/electronic musician Erik Spangler invite local artists to join in for genre-defying results that push the boundaries of experimental hip-hop.

· Motor House’s commitment to inclusion & accessibility echoes that of the craft maker spaces throughout Baltimore, and ongoing events that visitors can support and even partake in include:

o Every Wednesday, Motor House becomes “the most welcoming room in the city” for comics looking to test their material. ‘Art of Comedy Open Mic’ invites budding and established comedians to perform at this laugh-inducing event.

o Listen, and dance along, to DJ Marzo’s set at weekly dance party Turn Up Tuesdays.

o Ongoing artist talks, album releases and more provide additional opportunities for visitors to hear what Baltimore’s creative scene has to offer.

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