Mindful Making is a roaming wood and metal working school that was founded in 2018 by Lesley Jackson and Ashley Lamb. The two met at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago while managing the wood and metal facilities. For five years they collaborated heavily on developing a positive student experience, focusing their attention not only on teaching technical skills but creating an environment that is approachable and accessible to all types of makers. Working with students from all different backgrounds and levels of experience, they recognized the universal power of hands-on, physical making to help cultivate creativity, collaboration, and self-esteem in all people.
After working together for several years, they decided to extend their teaching to the public realm by offering classes at The Rebuilding Exchange, a local non-profit organization engaged in the use of reclaimed materials and DIY furniture. They began with the simple aim of providing an inclusive environment for women and non-binary people to learn woodworking skills outside of higher education. Starting with a small class of six, Mindful Making has since grown into a series of events that use wood and metalworking to empower others with basic design+build skills while challenging stereotypes and gender roles within the wood and metal industries.
Mindful Making recognizes the act of crafting furniture as an inherently
meaningful activity that cultivates awareness by re-connecting people to the built environment, how things are made, and where things come from. By helping others to design and build their own furniture using recycled materials, we aim to instill both a deeper appreciation for the self and for the built environment, making us more cognizant of our surroundings and how we can contribute in a positive way to the world around us.
Lesley Jackson is an artist, furniture maker, and educator from Louisville Kentucky. She has taught woodworking and managed the shop at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for the past five years. She also runs her own studio space in Humboldt park where she designs and builds one-of-a-kind furniture using with wood, metal, and found objects.
Ashley is an artist and educator originally from New York City. Currently she lives in Chicago where she manages the metal shop at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is passionate about creating safe and equitable spaces for people to learn industrial arts. She has a BA in Fine Art and English Literature from Kenyon College and an MA in Art Education from SAIC.