Make it, Tenterfield

Measuring up: Ruth Rutherford and Nanette Watts allocate stand space on the upper floor of Mitre 10 as Make It Tenterfield secretary Carmel Higgins and president Helen Worland look on.
Measuring up: Ruth Rutherford and Nanette Watts allocate stand space on the upper floor of Mitre 10 as Make It Tenterfield secretary Carmel Higgins and president Helen Worland look on.

It may well be a worldwide trend but when it happens right in the middle of town, it's something to get excited about.

A Tenterfield version of the Make It collaboration phenomenon is coming to the upper floor of Mitre 10, and it's only thanks to the support of Mitre 10 proprietor Brian Smith and other local businesses that it's happening at all, Make It Tenterfield Inc. president Helen Worland said. Mr Smith, for instance, is providing the space rent-free for the first year.

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By the end of this month the centre will feature a live makers space with a number of permanent artisans pursuing their craft. They will be complemented by temporary stands for visiting artists and with special one-off events and special interest classes, and the organisers are seeking feedback on what's of interest. (Cheesemaking, anyone?)

Members of the small organising committee will anchor the centre with Ruth Rutherford spinning and knitting, Helen Worland working on her waxed African fabrics, and Carmel Higgins doing jewellery and bags.

Add to the mix Marie Ihle running a clothing hospital (to recycle and upcycle used clothes), ceramicist Kylie Heinrich and Nanette Watts with her leadlighting, and that's just for starters.

The group is chasing opportunities rather than profit, renting out the spaces to craftspeople for a nominal fee. It will also help pay its way, and support the commercial interests of its participants, by manning a sales counter at the centre where visitors can purchase the artists' work.

There's potential for the concept to generate tourism revenue, through visitation and by bringing in artisans and devotees from Brisbane or the coast for craft weekends.

Ms Worland said the group is keen to be as inclusive as possible, supporting a network of local artists whether they're members of Make It Tenterfield or not. They don't want to be in competition with other outlets, and they also hope to bring their skills to other locations like Millrace and Haddington.

"My philosophy is that if you can lend someone a hand, why wouldn't you?" Ms Worland said.

"It's about art therapy and sharing, not about the money."

She said this pragmatic approach will help those who don't have the space or the money to set up a home business, or who would relish the social support.

Other planned activities include things like a whittling workshop and a wildlife carers presentation.

The group will have a street stall on Thursday, June 20 to introduce themselves and sell raffle tickets to raise some much-needed funds, and there are a number of other raffles around town thanks to business donations.

Then there'll be the grand opening onsite at 10am on Friday, June 21 with David Caldwell doing the honours. This will be followed by a celebration that night next door at Our Place Wine and Espresso Bar from 5.15-7.15pm. The group is meeting each Tuesday night at Our Place at 6.15pm, and anyone interested is invited to join them.

Ms Worland hopes the initiative will come a recognised, long-term establishment.

"There's the potential for it to become pan-generational," she said.

"People are coming out of the woodwork. The depth and breadth of skill is extraordinary in this area."

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