Our Story

Tear Cap Workshops is 501(3)(c) non-profit organization with the mission to unleash creativity through hands-on learning. Our facility is a former sawmill in Hiram, Maine that we are re-purposing into an artisan collective and craft school. The name “Tear Cap” comes from the  mountain peak that rises to the north above our campus; “Workshops”  refers both to the workshop space available to rent and to hands-on  workshops for educational skill building.

 

Last  fall, TCW purchased the 19-acre campus, and we’re slowing transforming  the 11 buildings into usable workshop space. We have 4 creative tenants  currently: a timberframer, a cabinetmaker, a mosaic glass artisan, and a  builder of small homes and campers. We have an emerging hands-on  workshop schedule: we held a stonewall building class this summer, thanks to a partnership with the Stone Trust; and woodworking classes and opportunities are coming as soon as the the Community Woodworking Shop is completed!

Vision

Tear Cap Workshops is a non-profit, educational organization that aims to build connections between craft and the local environment, between experienced artisans and beginning students, and between artisans of different disciplines. It is our goal to build a craft community, accessible to anyone with a desire to learn, based around Maine resources: wood, stone, metal, and food. The name “Tear Cap” comes from the mountain peak that rises to the north above our facility: a former pine sawmill set on 19 acres of mixed forest and cleared, improved land. 


Tear Cap Workshops seeks to unleash creative pursuits in all people through hands-on workshops, classes, educational events, internships and volunteer opportunities. We also hope to nurture the development and success of artists, craftspeople, and small creative businesses by offering affordable, aesthetic and inspiring rental spaces within this community. We aim to build connections between varied creative disciplines —wood, stone, metal and food — all 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 our forest, eating bread made by a baking class, and soup made from fresh vegetables grown in our 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.

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 were part of 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. 


In September 2017, with a lot of help from CEI, we purchased the former Thomas Hammond and Sons sawmill facility in Hiram. A month later, we offered our first woodworking class in the former planer mill building. The class was wonderful -- a small, hands-on class, exactly what we set out to do. The class was also a test of the space -- an open, 40 x 80 foot space with 2 garage doors and spruce flooring. It had a lot of potential -- but needed a lot of work. Since that time, we've been working hard at renovating the former planer mill building into a Community Woodworking Shop.


In 2018, so far, we received our first grant funding from 3 different foundations, offered a workshop on stonewall building, welcomed a new artisan tenant, made significant progress on the Community Woodworking Shop, added new supporting members and board members, and so far, offered 8 different public events: seminars, potlucks, open houses, facility tours, and volunteer work days.


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
Secretary: John Bowen

Treasurer: Jamie Coppola
Educational Director: Michael Buonatiuto
Director of Craft: Ben Dietrich
Director of Communications: Greg Marston

New board member: Scott Finlayson

Our staff

We currently have two part-time staff members: 

Executive Director: Henry Banks

Administrative Director: Sarah Banks