Our Story

Our vision

Tear Cap Workshops seeks to unleash creative pursuits in all people through hands-on workshops, classes, educational events, internship and volunteer opportunities. We hope to nurture the development and success of artists, craftspeople, and small creative businesses by offering affordable, aesthetic and inspiring rental spaces within our campus. We aim to build community between varied creative disciplines —wood, metal, stone, food — connected by their importance to rural life in Maine. We will help people to connect and learn together to enhance the creative experience, fostering inspiration and creative advancement for people with skill levels from beginner to expert. In the same way that we like to dine at a big table with friends, we will share knowledge and skills as we recapture lost arts and invent new traditions inspired by our rural surroundings. Everyone sitting together, at a table made by a woodworking class, from wood that was felled and twitched out of the local forest, eating bread made by a baking class, and soup made from fresh vegetables grown in the garden, will have participated in some part of this essential work, based on hand-made, locally grown, and traditional skills. A community will grow from this sharing just as friendship grows from breaking bread together.

What's in a name?

A Brief History of Tear Cap Workshops

Tear Cap Workshops began with a dream to build a meaningful community around craft, and to share the experience of hands-on learning with everyone. Officially formed and given 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2016, Tear Cap Workshops is led by a professional and passionate Board of Directors dedicated to bringing our mission into fruition. In our first year, we had a chair-making class, co-hosted a successful forestry conference, and laid the groundwork to begin a capital campaign for our future campus in Hiram. All of this would not have been possible without the many early supporters, donors, and believers - it's because of you that we have come this far!


Our name comes from the small mountain, Tear Cap, that rises above our sawmill campus. (We pronounce it like "tear" that rhymes with "deer".) A local historian has given us a few reasons that the mountain itself was named Tear Cap. In the version we like best, the name comes from the amount of vetch (or tare) that grew on the hilltop, and eventually Tare Cap turned into Tear Cap. 

Chair making class with Greg Marston was a huge source of inspiration for Tear Cap Workshops - and future hands-on classes. The first chairmaking class was held at Greg's shop in the early 2000's. Each participant made a Windsor chair, using traditional methods and hand tools. In 2016, Greg and Henry re-launched chairmaking class; this time each student made a Welsh stick chair again using traditional methods and hand tools. (In the picture above, Ben is shaping his chair legs with a shave horse.) We are currently fundraising for a dedicated woodworking classroom, making classes like these available year-round in Hiram.

Tear Cap Workshops co-hosted the Wood Innovators Conference that was held at the old sawmill in October 2016. The conference featured many panelists and speakers from all over the world. In the photo above, Anthony Thistleton speaks about mass timber buildings.


Press coverage from the event: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/20/conference-explore-next-generation-maine-wood-products/


Our Organization

Our Board of Directors

Tear Cap Workshops is run by a professional and talented Board of Directors.

President: Sally Dunning, RN, BSN
Secretary: John Bowen, JD
Treasurer: David Banks, MBA
Educational Director: Michael Buonatiuto, MS Ed
Director of Craft: Ben Dietrich, cabinetmaker
Director of Communications: Greg Marston, woodworker and cabinetmaker

Our staff

We currently have two part-time staff members: 

Executive Director: Henry Banks

Administrative Director: Sarah Banks