Crafts and Creativity Abound at Middletown’s New Makerspace
Art reigns supreme inside Orange County's Workshop Workshop.
Photos by Alexis Tellefsen
There’s a place in Middletown where creativity runs free. It’s a place where the comforting spin of the pottery wheel harmonizes with the soft swish of a paint brush as it glides off cool ceramics. More than a craft shop, it’s a destination for artisans, explorers, and innovators who want to test new passions in the Hudson Valley.
It’s called Workshop Workshop, and it’s the crafty new spot you’re going to want to visit ASAP.
“I have always wanted to open an art studio, but I considered it my long-term, way-down-the-road kind of goal,” says Alexis Tellefsen, the co-founder of Middletown space. An artist by trade, she first fell in love with ceramics while pursuing an art education degree at SUNY New Paltz. Once she took her first Basic Ceramics class, however, she knew there was no looking back.
With the help of her partner, co-founder, and fellow Middletown native Andrew Whiteman, Tellefsen opened Workshop Workshop on North Street at the beginning of May. A multipurpose makerspace, the shop combines retail and education with crafting that ranges from printmaking and pottery to skincare and more.
“We hold pottery classes taught by myself and other Hudson Valley artists, but we also want to open up the space for artists and makers of other mediums to come in and host workshops with us – whether they’re just for a couple hours or a whole day,” she explains. Although Workshop Workshop is still settling into the Valley, it already has a slew of to-dos slated through spring and summer. Tellefsen encourages anyone interested to keep an eye out on the shop’s website for upcoming programming on printmaking, beeswax candle-making, and skincare.
While the majority of Workshop Workshop’s events come with a cost for materials and instruction, at least one per month will be free. In May, for example, the center welcomed horticulturist Karen Waltuch for a plant swap. Coming in June, it will hold a collage session too. Also happening this summer, the shop will commence a special children’s clay class for young artists in July.
As the name makes clear, workshops are the main attraction at the Middletown destination. Yet they’re not the only appeal. At the front of the space, a small, curated gift shop stocked with handmade homewares, accessories, and skincare is a resource for last-minute gift ideas. Further in the back, meanwhile, is the kiln and the semi-private space in which Tellefsen creates the wares for Tellefsen Atelier, the eponymous ceramic brand she founded in August 2017. Even before opening Workshop Workshop, Tellefsen and her Atelier products have fostered a strong presence throughout the Valley, appearing inside shoppable settings like Reservoir in Beacon, Clove and Creek in Kingston, and Batterby House in Hudson. Her handcrafted mugs are also the tea and coffee cups of choice at The Gray Barn, the recently opened vegan inn on the grounds at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Now that Workshop Workshop is up and running, Tellefsen looks forward to establishing set hours and slowly growing the store’s presence in the Hudson Valley.
“I’ve been on a go-go-go path for the past few years, and I’m hoping that WW will help ground me,” she says. Speaking of grounding, she and Whiteman maintain roots in Middletown, just a few minutes away from their store. In addition to running Workshop Workshop, Whiteman, who Tellefsen describes as a “jack of all trades,” is the founder of UrbnSow Microfarms, a company that grows microgreens and mushrooms and converts backyard spaces into miniature farms.
The couple, who met in high school and have been together since their senior year, are happy to live and work in the Hudson Valley, the place they’ve both called home since childhood.
“I’m not sure that I’ll ever want to leave the Hudson Valley,” Tellefsen remarks. “I think Middletown always felt a little underappreciated in comparison to the other towns in the Hudson Valley, but we are really passionate about supporting our local economy and embedding ourselves deeper within our community here.”