An excerpt from to-be-published book by Marcea Frazier
On the street level, in the back of the armory’s main floor, there is a candle maker and an oil press. The oil/apple press is on the left side in the back of the building. We set up a chute system from the back parking lot. On the north side of the greenhouse is an alley coming in from Washington Street for people to unload their seed, fruit, and/or vegetables.
Our community-owned food press is quite impressive. Several members of our town came together to design the press so we could do several things: make oil, apple cider, and wine. Anyone in the community can use this press, you just have to clean up after yourself.
The back right side of the armory houses our candle maker and our soap maker. Also in this corner are two big cauldrons, one for wax and one for soap making. Early on Jeff organized several strong men to break a hole through the exterior wall to the interior of the garages, so we could access the heat to melt the wax and the oils. One side of this hole is the molds for the candles, on the other side of the hole are the molds for the soap.
I am the soap maker in this area. I have a bike setup in front of my cauldron, hooked up to a big mixer, and this is how I mix the lye and oils together. Depending upon the oils used, I need to mix until I reach a trace, this can take up to1 ½ to 3 hours. Jeff and I take turns riding the bike until we’re done.
Once we finished fixing up the Armory for indoor uses, people began retrofitting the garage. The wall that separated the interior of the building from the garage had to be reinforced with cinder blocks collected from other sites because of the high temperatures generated. Inside the garage in the middle is one big blacksmithing oven, off to the left is a large brick oven and a heavy duty melting pot for melting used glass that is then used to make new glass products. Luckily, before things started getting really localized we were a town full of artists, several of them glass blowers. They make glasses, jars, plates, serving bowls, vases, all kinds of beautiful dishes, marbles for the kids play with (some adults play with the marbles too), stained glass windows and glass art sculptures. On the right-side of the garage is a medium size kiln. All three of these ovens are towards the back of the garage, with their workspaces in front of the ovens. When these workspaces are being used the garage doors are open. We have quite a few chairs sitting out here in the grass, whenever work is going on, you always find people sitting and watching.
We don’t have so many stressed out people any more. We no longer have people working in jobs they hate, no more long commutes, no more busy schedules, and no more driving kids to one activity after another!