THE MAKER MOVEMENT is a 21st-century phenomenon based on applying new technologies to good old do-it-yourself ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about producing things rather than just consuming things. It’s about sharing tools and workspaces and ideas. Though contemporary, it’s rooted in traditional values of pragmatism and craftsmanship—traits that have been distinctive hallmarks of New Mexico’s identity from the start. Weaving, pottery, smithing, and carving are just some of the most obvious of the ancient technologies that residents of this state have elevated over centuries of practice to the realm of the artistic and collectible. Look no further than Spanish Market, at the end of July, and Indian Market, in mid-August, for proof of this concept. For more homespun examples of craft and creativity, look to the agricultural heritage on display at the season’s county fairs, which David Pike extols in a lovely essay. “People are tired of things that are mass-produced. They’re tired of built-in obsolescence,” says Deana McGuffin, the bootmaker spotlighted in the story. She learned the craft from her father, who learned it from his father. It seems to be the New Mexico way. Richard Chavez taught himself to make museum-quality jewelry, but when his son Jared showed an interest, Chavez senior insisted he get an elite education, which included digital skills.
Get a taste of their exquisite work in Family Ties. Zane Fischer, introduced in Thinking Small, is a local leader of the maker movement in its current manifestation. He’s constructing tiny houses using modular designs that can be replicated wherever the right tools exist. It’s a locally developed solution to a global housing shortage, and a very New Mexican idea. After all, what is a tiny house but a 21st-century casita?