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CraftWorks opens Cool Spring location

By Staff | Sep 23, 2011

A young girl sits to have a poem written for her during the grand opening of CraftWorks at Cool Spring. CraftWorks hopes to expand its curriculum by offering creative writing and performing arts classes. (Chronicle photo by Rachel Molenda)

CraftWorks celebrated the long-awaited grand opening of its Cool Spring location on Saturday, Sept. 17.

The idea of CraftWorks at Cool Spring began as an environmental preservation effort on the part of Linda Case, founder of the organization.

“The founding of this had to do with protecting in perpetuity, the environment here,” Case said. “(Using) the idea of a craft school and a nature preserve.”

While Case and Executive Director David Lillard originally planned to use a historic building on the property as its home base, commercial zoning issues kept them from doing so.

Faced with the challenge of building a new facility, Case said, “We then had to decide either to do nothing while we built or to get our programs going. So we then moved to Shepherdstown.”

Now with the studio at Cool Spring completed, CraftWorks can move forward.

“We will fill a special niche of looking at the world through slightly different glasses in doing environmental training, sustainability learning and crafts,” Case said.

With environmental awareness and education as part of its core value, CraftWorks has worked to make the studio at Cool Spring as efficient as possible.

Al Cobb of Panelwrights had the goal to “dub this structure West Virginia’s most energy efficient structure,” he stated in a speech given at the grand opening.

The studio features structural insulated panels, an air energy recovery system, as well as an energy monitoring system that shows how much is being given off at any one time. Randy Schwartz, a rater at Home Energy Solutions, describes the studio as “the tightest house I have ever tested.”

Since opening the Cool Spring studio, CraftWorks has begun moving forward with adding environmental classes to its craft-centered schedule.

“We didn’t know when the building was going to be open. The first grand opening was going to be June, and here we are. And so now we’re able to say, ‘OK, we’re in this place. We can schedule classes,'” Case said.

Having a permanent home will help CraftWorks continue to be a community-driven organization. Case said in her ribbon-cutting speech, “The significance of today is the handing over, in a sense, of CraftWorks to the community.”

Chole Herrold, an art major at Shepherd University, has been volunteering as an intern at CraftWorks since last spring.

“I think this new location is just a good milestone to show that … so many people who are here today want to be involved in what CraftWorks is,” Herrold said.

To Herrold, CraftWorks provides a place where nature and craft can bring people together.

“To new members of the community or people who might be curious to learn a new skill or trade or just want to get involved in nature a little bit more, this is the place to come,” she said.

Now “a place-based organization,” as Case described, CraftWorks’ future plans include more artist-taught classes, music events, environmental classes and a permanent hanging system for exhibitions.

Case hopes CraftWorks will continue to have a strong relationship with and positive impact on the Jefferson County area.

“The future is going to have to be a partnership in order for CraftWorks to live … We have to make you fall in love with us,” she said.