I am a sculptor and cabinet maker/woodworker. As part of the Blockhouse School project, I have a vision for the incubation of small manufacturing businesses in rural areas, with a focus on re using existing materials that often end up in the land fills.
My specific focus at the moment is small home furnishings – such as coffee tables, lamps and other furniture that are creative, interesting, beautiful and use materials that are sustainably produced, such as local selectively logged lumber, as well as material that would normally end up in the waste stream – such as construction plywood, leftover materials from other manufacturing processes, automobile glass, plastics etc.
Part of the key to the success of this idea, I believe, is the availability of open sourced, shared manufacturing equipment such as CNC machinery, veneer presses, moulding machines and other industrial equipment that small producers can access without each individually having to make the huge investment into this machinery themselves.
I call this a machinery hub.
Without this equipment, the manufacture of unique products is often a losing battle, each piece becoming too labour intensive to produce, driving the cost way up.
At the same time, without proper equipment the quality often suffers and the product is not as good as it could be, which makes the high price even more unjustifiable.
This puts great pressure on small manufacturers to purchase the needed expensive equipment.
At the same time, purchasing this equipment forces small business into economies of scale – creating bottom lines that often ignore earth sensitive issues such as using sustainable materials, as well as creating the need to produce large quantities in order to keep the machines running. Access to larger markets are needed, creating the need to ship large quantities over long distances. Small producers then become extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in the national and international economy – less able to maneuver as needed.My vision is to make it possible for creative individuals to produce, without driving the cost of each product out of reach.
I see the creation of designs and products that are produced in small limited production runs – continually exploring new uses for existing materials.
A machinery hub takes some of the risk out of trying new ideas, as the machines are not being streamlined for large scale production, and therefore trying new product ideas does not involve interupting an already established flow of production.
If a particular product becomes successful, an individual may then consider purchasing their own equipment to produce that product.
I see the creation of these machinery hubs in areas close to their markets, keeping the production and distribution of products local. This reduces our C02 emissions by enabling the production of a greater variety of goods for local markets, while creating local jobs and keeping people in rural areas. Designs and production processes can be shared across the country, while the actual production, and with it job creation, remains local.
The Blockhouse School, right in the Mahone Bay area, is an ideal place to create such a possibility.
Klassen Fine Woodworking
Windsor, Nova Scotia
902 798 8711