Cruces Creatives, located at 205 East Lohman in the former home of Las Montañas Charter High School on the southern end of downtown, is a nonprofit community makerspace, connecting Las Crucens of all ages to the tools and training to make just about anything.
For those unfamiliar, a makerspace is like a gym for building and creating, with tools and other equipment in place of weights and treadmills.
Cruces Creatives’ 12,000-square-foot space is subdivided into various areas, each suited to a different kind of work.
The large, open main room, which greets visitors and holds the reception desk, utilizes portable work tables that can be moved and rearranged as necessary, along with a series of privacy cubicles, computer systems running Windows and Linux, scanners and printers, a Raspberry Pi system, drafting tables, laminating machine, library, a book press, an assortment of office tools, a video/photo editing booth and several Cricut cutting machines. The conference room also serves as an art gallery, hosting rotating monthly exhibits and First Friday Downtown Art Ramble receptions.
A dedicated textile lab holds basic and industrial-grade sewing machines, sergers, looms, a shoe patch working machine, irons and ironing boards, hand tools, and self-healing cutting mats, with large work tables to accommodate it all.
Crafting for Good
At home in Cruces Creatives’ textile lab is the Charitable Crafting Project, which makes textile goods for good causes: children’s clothing for Gospel Rescue Mission, blankets, clothes and holiday bags for Casa de Peregrinos and “fidget quilts,” which include beads, zippers, buttons, ties, and pockets which have been shown to give comfort and calm to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Photography, electronics, and recording studio
Cruces Creatives’ audio-visual room gives members access to professional-quality cameras and sound recording equipment, black-, white- and greenscreens for photo and video work, lighting umbrellas and sources, light boxes, and a private recording studio with all the necessary hardware and software inside.
For those members eager to explore electronics, a stocked electronics lab includes several 3D printers and supplies, a laser engraver, breadboarding equipment, oscilloscopes, power supplies, signal generators, soldering stations, hand tools, Arduino and Raspberry Pi systems and, of course, all the necessary safety equipment.
The multipurpose room, which comes alive during special events, includes a stage and sound system for performances, a projection screen, tables and chairs for events, sofas for those hard-working makers to take a break, project storage, a site-built arcade system — very cool — and a fully-stocked break room with hot tea and coffee available by donation.
Woodworking shop and Hub Community Bike Shop
Cruces Creatives’ woodworking shop holds all the necessary tools for any project, and then some — computer-controlled routers, drill presses, sanders, lathes, planers, routers and router tables, a milling machine, carving and hand tools, table saws, band saws, and just about any other kind of saw you can imagine.
Sharing one side of the woodworking shop is the Hub Community Bike Shop, operated by partner Velo Cruces, which holds wheel trueing equipment, bike parts, accessories, and specialized repair tools, and offers instruction and bicycle repair assistance.
In addition to these workspaces, Cruces Creatives keeps a packed calendar of events — classes and workshops in drawing, painting, and other art classes, loom weaving, music recording, bicycle repair and maintenance, photography with the Doña Ana Photography Club, homeschool science, STEM, songwriting, creative writing, and more, all led by Cruces Creatives’ dedicated corps of member instructors. The full slate of Cruces Creatives’ upcoming events is always available at crucescreatives.org/events.
Open since June 2018, Cruces Creatives is the brainchild of Lea Wise-Surguy, an alumni of the NMSU art department. Cofounders include Jon Simmons, Patrick DeSimio, Michael Harris, Nancy Hastings, Jordan Kopreski, Jeff Moore, and Margaret Neill, whose backgrounds run the gamut — writers, artists, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, software engineers, librarians, and makers of all kinds.
Though it’s a creative space, Cruces Creatives’ impact and intent is far-reaching — among its many missions, its founders are committed to fostering economic development, furthering education, supporting artists and the arts, protecting the environment, strengthening social connections in the community, and advancing an understanding and appreciation of science and technology in Doña Ana County.
A bright corner conference room, open to members and nonmembers, who can rent the space, holds a conference table and seating for up to 15 people, a whiteboard, and projector.
Lea says, “Cruces Creatives’s current sustainability initiatives include using surplus construction materials; hosting classes, workshops, and other events at the intersection of making and sustainability; and using plant-based, biodegradable filament for our 3D printers. We’re currently building machines to recycle plastic into feed materials for 3D printers, but the machines aren’t finished yet. Glass recycling and biomass utilization, other than the plant-based 3D printing filament, are future goals.”
Membership Brings Rewards
Memberships — which includes safety training for each major department, required to access the tools therein — includes access to the space during regular hours, along with free access for up to two children 13 and younger. An individual monthly membership is just $45; an individual yearly membership is $495. There are also a number of monthly and yearly family and group rates available. If you’d like to earn your membership through “sweat equity” instead, you can volunteer three hours per week.
Mom, musician, and elementary school teacher Laura Humphries is a Cruces Creative fan. She says, “When my daughter and I first walked into Cruces Creatives to take a tour in the summer of 2018, we were truly amazed by what we saw. Room after room of eclectic and inviting spaces, truly an environment infused with creativity and innovation. Lea, Pat, and the rest of the friendly staff have always gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome. We have attended their monthly collaborative songwriters’ sessions, open mic nights, bike clinic, children’s art & science events, seed shares, as well as utilized their woodworking shop and textile lab for various projects. While volunteers help keep it all going in a myriad of ways, I also feel it is so crucial for our community to support their incredible makerspace efforts with membership dollars as well. That’s why we decided to become members during their recent anniversary celebration last June. We are thrilled to be part of such a collaborative and supportive community!”
Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
For more on Cruces Creatives and COVID updates, visit crucescreatives.org or call 575-448-1072.
Written by Zak Hansen
Photography by Cheryl Fallstead
Originally published in Neighbors magazine
Posted by LasCruces.com