By Keri Johnson, AmeriCorps VISTA

Though Makerspace Maker Aubrey jo Blue hails from northwestern Ohio and moved to Athens County less than a year ago, they’ve found home in both Appalachia and the Community Makerspace.

Aubrey jo Blue, wearing a yellow shirt, runs a white dress through a vintage sewing machine.

Aubrey jo Blue mends a client’s white dress during Open Mending Hours at the Community Makerspace, 751 W. Union St.

From instructing sewing, quilting, and more at the Makerspace and at Dairy Barn Arts Center, Blue practices and shares the world of fiber arts.

“I love being able to teach people how to hand sew and mend their clothes, because we don’t really have those skills taught to us anymore.”

Knitting and quilting since their early teens, Blue credits their grandmother for passing on skills carried by generations of women.

“Now these skills are coming back around as we are reckoning with the amount of waste that the fashion industry produces,” Blue said. “A loved garment lasts and visible mends are a beautiful act of care that anyone can do, regardless of gender; soldiers used to darn socks and mend their uniforms on the battlefield. Mending and sewing garments is for everyone.”

Blue studied at The Ohio State University, completing a bachelor’s in art history and comparative studies, and will eventually pursue a master of fine arts degree.

Their work centers around fiber but also incorporates photography, woodwork, and ceramics – in a future exhibition, they hope to examine the relationship between the hand and machine in the context of industrialized weaving in a sculptural format.

Blue currently instructs two weekly classes at the Makerspace: Learning to Hand Quilt and Open Mending Hours. Learning to Hand Quilt is held on Tuesday from 4–7 p.m. and Open Mending Hours are held on Thursdays from 4–7 p.m.

Learning to Hand Quilt costs $5 to attend and Open Mending Hours is free. Both classes are open to the general public; RSVP on Eventbrite.

“We have all of the materials to teach people everything they need to know here,” Blue said of the Makerspace. “When you’re learning alone it’s easy to get overwhelmed; there’s a lot. But there is a starting point for everyone. It is a very accessible medium and very mobile medium as well. And we have such a rich fiber history in this country and in this area.”

Blue had one last thing to add: “If people are thinking about buying a sewing machine, buy an old one or come to the Makerspace to try one out first!”