Sew much more than an art studio

Video posted April 25, 2016 in News by Shannon Sweeney



Amy Frank has been sewing since she was 8 years old — and now, she gets to share her love for sewing with the State College community.

Frank owns The Makery, a “creative collective” located in downtown State College on Calder Way nestled between Fraser Street and Burrowes Street.

But the story of The Makery begins in Boalsburg.

After Frank had her four children, she wanted a more flexible career, and her friends had asked her to teach their daughters how to sew. She occupied a space above her friend’s boutique, but realized quickly it was growing into something more.

“Slowly and very organically, it grew into a full-time teaching art studio in that little tiny second-floor space in Boalsburg,” Frank said. “For that, and for a few other reasons, we found this space in downtown State College and took the leap to bring this into a more populated area.”

Now, The Makery offers classes to children, adults and college students. From sewing, painting, photography, creative writing and more, Frank said the point of The Makery is to offer a warm, inviting place for creative freedom.

“I do think it’s really important for a community to have an open and beautiful space that inspires, that’s bright and encourages a lot of exuberance,” Frank said. “We don’t always have that in our homes. Our homes are busy places… I think sometimes it takes stepping out of that environment.”

Carolyne Meehan, a creative writing instructor, said Frank does a great job of looking for people to collaborate with, including finding local artists and instructors who can teach and inspire others.


Meehan said she thinks the importance of arts and creating and making things is gaining more attention, in addition to gathering people together to make art a social experience.

Meehan, along with creative writing instructor Katie O’Hara-Krebs, are teaching a workshop called “Write, Reflect, Shine,” which is an eight-week session where adults write poetry, plays and fictional stories.

Spools of different colored thread sit on a shelf in The Makery. Members of the State College community can sew during classes or during open studio time. Photo by Shannon Sweeney

O’Hara-Krebs said The Makery is unique in State College because it offers many different types of art.

“I think that fostering this type of artist community in State College is so important,” she said. “Everyone can draw, you just have to try.”

In addition to creative courses for children and adults, The Makery has a market for local artists within 50 miles to sell their work. Frank said the artisan market consists of jewelry, paintings, photos, handbags, glass fusion, children’s accessories and children’s toys, among other locally created crafts.

“This is home for four years, and it needs to feel like home,” Kim Hunziker, open studio manager and mixed media instructor, said. “And I think the more State College is a unique experience for the students, and for the others that move in, the better the community is served by having a local common experience.”

Hunziker said The Makery offers handmade gifts for students at Penn State. She said it is important for students to support the local economy while they're living in State College.

The open studio, Hunziker said, is where people can pay a fee to have access to art supplies. There are hourly, monthly and yearly rates for students and members of the State College community. She said The Makery differs from other similar establishments because of this feature.

“Parents bring their kids in and hang out for an afternoon, students can come in for a study break, or artists who are doing work professionally can come in with their own projects and have a space to spread out,” she said. “It’s a service to the community but it’s a service to creative expression, and I think it is really important for humans to express themselves.”

Frank said she thinks places like The Makery are popping up in cities like Portland, Austin, Brooklyn and Washington, DC because of a demand for creativity in an open, welcoming space.

“There’s so much focus on digital technology and social media and games you can play on a device,” she said. “With that, the pendulum swings the other way, and folks are really hungry to make something with their hands and gain the skills necessary in order to do that.”

Photos: The Makery offers creative classes 

The Makery, located on Calder Way, offers many classes to children and adults in the State College community, including sewing, knitting, photography and more. Additionally, The Makery has a market that sells locally made art from within 50 miles of State College.