GoggleWorks partners with Berks LaunchBox to deliver unique class

LaunchBox_Goggleworks Coasters (2)

The first class session took place entirely in the GoggleWorks’ woodshop, where participants cut and sanded their planks of wood, learning proper techniques and safety in the process.

Credit: Patricia Leshinskie

WYOMISSING, Pa. — In December 2022, the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts hosted its first official class in partnership with Berks LaunchBox and sold out. Open to members of the community, those in attendance began taking the steps necessary to craft their very own wooden coasters, made from scratch.

The first class session took place entirely in the GoggleWorks’ woodshop, where participants cut and sanded their planks of wood, learning proper techniques and safety in the process.

“It’s all about getting experience in the woodshop,” remarked Emily Thiel, GoggleWorks’ adult programs manager. “The class gives participants confidence in their abilities and hopes to inspire participants to create other things in the woodshop. GoggleWorks wants you to feel successful and emphasizes the process, not the final product, as art is such a valuable way to express yourself.”

The second class session focused on the laser engraver, as students put the finishing touches on their coasters, with help from Patty Leshinskie of Berks LaunchBox. Participants selected images to personalize their handcrafted creations. From holiday themes to geometric patterns, to photographs of family members, to their own sketches, the options were limitless. Smiles could be seen as they completed their 100% handmade projects in less than 30 minutes on the laser engraver, just in time for holiday giving.

“Everyone with LaunchBox is really awesome,” said Thiel. “They’re always down to see how we can collaborate and work together in more ways, better equipping people in Berks County and all of our students here.”

Thiel was happy to speak about the resources GoggleWorks and LaunchBox provide, from 3D printers to a brand-new clay printer.

This technology might seem out-of-reach and highly expensive, yet Berks LaunchBox provides the courses and experience “for anyone who wants to learn about it.”

The Berks LaunchBox has worked with many artists from the GoggleWorks. From laser engraving wedding napkin rings with artist Luke Voytas, 3D printing projects for their After School Art Program with artist Kris Jackson, or creating nameplates for the PA Downtown Awards with artist Maggie Gallen, they continue to look for ways to collaborate the digital side of making and the hands-on experience of completed art projects.

GoggleWorks will continue to partner with LaunchBox into the foreseeable future, offering two courses in the spring, taught by Leshinskie and Mike Daddario, who specializes in metals and printmaking. The first class will feature Flower Line Drawing, and in the second, students will design Raised Relief Hex Signs.

About Berks LaunchBox

The mission of Berks LaunchBox, located in Suite 105 of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, is to support economic development and entrepreneurship. An innovation hub of Penn State Berks, Berks LaunchBox connects local entrepreneurs to the support, resources, and facilities that they need to build sustainable and scalable businesses with a viable plan for growth. Services include assistance with prototyping, conducting market research, and connecting with advisers. Berks LaunchBox offers entrepreneurship workshops, coworking space for startups, Meetups focused on business development, a makerspace with 3D printers for prototyping and special youth programs. Berks LaunchBox is supported by Invent Penn State — a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student success, launched by Penn State President Eric J. Barron in 2016. For more information, visit berkslaunchbox.psu.edu or contact Erica Kunkel, Berks LaunchBox interim director, at 610-396-6221 or via email at [email protected].

About the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts is a community art and cultural resource center located in Reading. The mission of the GoggleWorks is “to transform lives through unique interactions with art.” Located in the former Willson Goggle Factory building, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts features teaching studios in ceramics, hot and warm glass, metalsmithing, photography, printmaking, woodworking and virtual reality; juried artist studios; and headquarters of cultural organizations. GoggleWorks also includes several exhibition galleries, a 130-seat film theater, a bar/restaurant, and store featuring handcrafted works by over 200 artists working within the building and beyond. Admission (excluding special events) and parking are always free.