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Historic Stoughton building becomes a woodworking paradise | Work

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The historic Stoughton building, vacant for nearly a decade, now invites visitors to buy and build wooden crafts.

It’s called the Doughboy Building because it was once home to Doughboy Feeds. of the century The building at 501 E. Main Street was last occupied nine years ago by a fleet of milk trucks. It was a car showroom in the 1920s and 1930s.

After extensive renovations, the building reopened as Grand Inspire in February. This is a combination woodworking gallery and membership-based workshop, designed to celebrate fine craftsmanship and provide a space for everyone from beginner to expert to create.

The business is the brainchild of veteran educator Joan Glassman, 60, who spent 32 years working as a school psychologist and administrator at a Madison school before retiring in 2021. Heading to the altar of the church her great-great-grandfather built on Sunday, she dreamed of one day transforming an old farmhouse.

Wooden bowls and chandeliers are on display in Stoughton’s Grand Inspired gallery.

“I’ve dabbled in[woodworking]most of my life while doing other jobs,” says Glassman, who joined Madison’s makerspace The Bodgery a few years ago, working from his home in the town of Dunn. I drove to the shop.

When she considered her upcoming retirement, she began scouting around Stoughton for historic buildings to restore. Her search took her nearly a year, but by May 2021 she had made her purchase.

“Almost everything was needed,” says Glassman, including heating and new electrical wiring. The renovation cost about $300,000, of which about $76,000 was in grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Grassman’s son Darren Bell, 30, who was living in Thailand at the time and ran a coffee roasting company, helped plan and build the website and returned to Wisconsin earlier this year to run the business with his mother. did.

Together, they designed a business that suited their interests, space, and town.The proximity of other galleries, such as the Abel Contemporary Gallery across the street, makes Stoughton “like an art destination.” It’s becoming a great place,” says Glassman.

Six days a week, visitors can stop by to browse the furniture and art at the Grand Inspired gallery. And those looking for a place to do their own woodwork can sign up for workshop memberships. This costs $40 a month for enthusiasts and $70 a month for those who sell their work. Members can take free classes to create projects such as cutting boards and boxes that they can take home. You can also sign up for a one-on-one session with instructor Rob Gulk, where he can demonstrate how to use various power tools in the shop and discuss your next project.

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Instructor Rob Gurke works at Grand Inspired’s woodworking space in Stoughton.

While there are plenty of galleries and a few local makerspaces, Grassman and Bell see other businesses that act as both woodworking galleries where artists can sell their work and community woodworking shops where people can learn and build. I don’t know

By offering both, Grassman hopes to “develop an appreciation for the time, talent, and effort that go into making something by hand.”

“We’re so happy when someone decides to build something themselves,” Bell said.

Gallery Offers Products, Ideas

Where once the windows were boarded up, today the light shines through and passers-by peer inside. Glassman and Bell welcome them warmly and are eager to showcase their dreams come true. You can also participate in special tours.

“It’s almost a daily occurrence for someone to stop by and say, ‘I’m so glad someone did something in this building,'” Glassman said.

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One side of Grand Inspired serves as a gallery of handcrafted fine art, furniture and functional art. The other functions as a woodworking makerspace where members can take classes using tools.

The galleries range from small spice bowls to large tables priced from under $10 to over $5,000. The styles are also very different. There are benches that combine rustic reclaimed barn beams with smooth steel. It has a table made from the wood of an old tobacco-drying shed and a smooth bowl made from the rugged nubs that grow on the sides of the tree. There is also an assortment of pieces adorned with an elaborate Japanese kumiko-style lattice that is fixed by pressure alone, without the use of nails or glue.

In keeping with the name of the business, visitors can also stop by for inspiration for their own projects. People regularly visit the gallery and mention pieces of wood trying to figure out how to make something out of it.

“A lot of people want a custom project because they have wood that has a story behind it,” says Bell. “Their old barn has collapsed, or this piece of this tree from their childhood home has collapsed, and they want to turn it into a table.”

The shop offers expert consultation on such projects, and there is a fee if that person wishes to hire an artist from the shop to create a custom piece.

And, leaning against one wall, a series of wooden planks harvested and processed from city trees cut down by the city of Stoughton, for those looking for inspiring materials for their next project. It is sold for

wonder workshop

The workshop has all your woodworking essentials, including the most advanced tools available. The SawStop Table Saw stops and retracts the blade within 5 milliseconds once it contacts the skin. There are joiners, planers, sanders, bandsaws, and programmable CNC machines for carving wood. There is also a huge dust collector that sucks up sawdust, part of which becomes a chicken bed in the member’s backyard.

A collection of handmade wood jigs made by Gurke helps members cut common angles and circles easily and consistently. …in a way that succeeds,” Glassman said, reflecting on his career as an educator.

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A handcrafted sign hangs at the entrance to Grand Inspired, a new gallery and woodworking makerspace in Stoughton.

The shop has about 55 members and more are signing up every week. About half of the members are beginners, and many are elderly women who were not able to take classes at the store when they were students.

Non-members can attend for a fee if there is space. In an upcoming class, students will use a bandsaw to create bud vases and epoxy to create coasters.

Visitors can also stop by for community events such as pop-up shops and music shows. Next up is the Mag Show (August 20-21) featuring artisan-made sake cups, followed by his October show featuring scarves and shawls. The pair are looking forward to filling the shop’s calendar with more events.

“You can be a member here, you can shop here, you can take classes here,” Glassman said. increase.”

4 questions

What are the most important values ​​that drive your work?

Glassman: I think the values ​​that have driven the business have really elevated the appreciation for the time, talent, skill, and tenacity to create something truly handcrafted.

Bell: Appreciation for things that are carefully made. When something pays attention to its creation, you keep caring about it. And it really lasts — not just physically, but you remember it.

Glassman: even in the building itself. Some people may look at an old building and say, “Let’s tear it down.” But (we) have that appreciation for being in it.

How do you create the kind of community you want to live in?

Glassman: When I think about the kind of community I want to join, it’s a community that’s inspiring people. It’s inspiring. I work to solve problems creatively. Help people grow and learn. And that’s what we do here. I hope people will come to this place and be inspired by what they see.

Bell: Our makerspace has become a really great community area as well. Many members work together on projects and build friendships. It’s really great to see people learn and grow together. And I think the events we do here are helping the whole community, even those who aren’t woodworkers or just don’t want to shop.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Bell: When you first start a business, I think many people want to work on their own (on their own). But whether it’s a service you’re paying for or just a friend with business experience, I think it helps to give someone some guidance at first. is a good idea. And once you feel like you know what you’re doing, you can start doing it yourself.

Glassman: What I had in mind was that the brick and mortar business had changed. You can buy anything online, but you can’t experience it online. That’s why it’s important to think of your business as an experience. How do you give people something they can’t get online? That’s a big part of what we do here. People want something to create memories for themselves and their time away from home needs to be meaningful.


Glassman: We are not looking for another hourly employee at this time, but we are always looking for artists working with wood, metal and natural materials to join our gallery.