Meet Ann Arbor's Makers

Mixtape dance parties. Library sewing labs. Politically incorrect papier-mâché. No matter the medium, Ann Arbor is a creative destination and home to makers, crafters and artists of all kinds.

By: Lish Dorset
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Photo By: Myra Klarman

When it comes to the best mixtape party in town, look no further than The Bang! For the past 15 years, founders and mixtape DJs Jeremy Wheeler and Jason Gibner have been keeping party goers going with an eclectic music mix during their regular dance parties. Pair the party's over-the-top themes with elaborate props and sets built by the duo and their team and The Bang! still remains one of the not-to-be-missed events in Ann Arbor.

Photo by Doug Coombe, courtesty of The Bang!

For more than 100 years the Ann Arbor Art Center has been inspring art lovers of all ages and abilities to be creative. From classes to exhibitions, the center strives to provide cultural learning opportunities for the city's residents.

Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor Art Center

For a week in July each year, the streets of downtown Ann Arbor are turned into outdoor gallery spaces for the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair. More than 500,000 attendees flood the streets as they enjoy a collection of art fairs.

Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Inside of a 14,000-square-foot building in Ann Arbor resides Maker Works, a member-driven workshop. Offering studio spaces in metal, wood, circuits and craft, Maker Works provides its members with the chance to utilize is resources to build and experiment. Whether you're an artist or own a small business, Maker Works helps you gain access to equipment and resources that are sometimes hard for one indvidual to obtain on their own.

Photo courtesy of Maker Works

How many libraries do you know of that dedicate an entire week of programming to Japanese arts and crafts? Offering a diverse collection of making-related events and meetups is just one of the unique characteristics of the Ann Arbor District Library. Not only can you come in to check out a book or work on a research project, you can drop in for the weekly sewing lab to practice your sewing skills, no matter your skill level.

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor District Library

Looking for some of the best paper products around? Look no further than Hollander's. Providing hard-to-find bookbinding and decorative papers since 1991, Cindy and Tom Hollander have inspired countless generations of makers. Today the store offers more than 2,000 unique types of papers for paper lovers to swoon over.

Photo courtesy of Hollander's

When it's time for for the annual FestiFools parade, attendees are ready to be entertained by a parade of lavish, human-power papier-mâché puppets. The creations are strange, colorful and conversation-starting. FestiFools is produced by WonderFool Productions and kicks off Ann Arbor's outdoor festival season.

Photo by Myra Klarman, courtesy of WonderFool Productions

OK, OK. So you might not get your robot tuned up inside Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, but your gear-themed purchase does directly support the efforts of 826 Michigan. The organization uses the DIY store front to help raise money for their student writing and tutoring centers in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Photo courtesy of 826Michigan

Located on the second floor of the Kerrytown Market & Shops is Spun, a family-owned yarn shop offering not just knitting supplies, but classes, workshops and events for wool lovers of all kinds.

Pink Castle Fabrics started in response to owner Brenda Ratliff's desire to quilt and design with fabrics she loved but couldn't find on the market. From a small basement in the early days to a proper brick-and-mortar destination now, Pink Castle is Ann Arbor's offering for modern fabrics for today's modern quilter and sewer. On top of that, Pink Castle Fabrics is also the host to Glamp Stitchalot, a popular luxury sewing retreat held in the city. The twice-annual events sell out quickly thanks to a roster of well-known instructors coming in from around the country.

Photo courtesy of Pink Castle Fabrics