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  • Bebe Ashley

A Poet at a Power Tools Class

Last weekend, I braved the stormy weather and headed over to East Belfast for a Power Tools Class at Belfast Tool Library. Spoiler: I had a really great time.

As part of Make Tower Street Teach Again, a weekend of creative classes organised by Vault Artists Studios and Seedhead Arts, and hosted by local artists to include exciting like a hula-hoop class for adults, lino-cut printing, artist lead painting and drawing, street stitching, and so many other things, it was a fantastic opportunity to explore the new offerings of Belfast Tool Library and ask all the questions I'd wanted to ask as well as practicing using some of the power tools in an encouraging environment.

The Belfast Tool Library is a members-only tool lending library. It is a fantastic community resource where, for only £25 a year, you have access to a wide range of tools. (Everything from a single nail and hammer to a mitre saw!) The tools are repaired and maintained by a team of volunteers, and there are even volunteer librarians to manage and keep track of the library's stock. They accept donations and some local companies have also donated new equipment to be loaned out.


The team are currently working on preparing a workshop space so that members can come in and work on their own projects. It is already a hub of community and I think as it continues in popularity, it will be a staple resource for artists and locals in need of specific tools without having the budget to buy them outright, or the need to own them forever when all you want to do it strip some wallpaper or sand back an old desk.



My current ideal for side-project-summer is to begin renovating a campervan so that I can finally have a chance to explore Ireland and get out of the city more often. I don't know exactly what this entails yet but I've been researching and taking a Sunday afternoon Power Tools Class also counts as research. The team were very supportive and explained absolutely everything I wanted to know, including real basics about what drill bits are used for which material and so on. It was a fun workshop, and I used a drill, sander, mitre saw, dremel, and watched some welding in a cool auto-darkening mask, as well as enjoyed coffee and jaffa cakes. The only thing I wouldn't touch was the angle grinder, due to the many many sparks but I wasn't pressured into giving it a go and was happy to watch instead. I can't wait to get my van now, to get started on working on it as it seems the Belfast Tool Library will be a perfect space to utilise.

I've been over to Vault Artist Studios a couple of times and every experience there has been unlike any other. I really hope Tower Street Teaching runs again, there are many more things I'd like to try. The photo on the right, for example, is an entirely gold painted bathroom complete with toilet, sink, hand dryers, decorative plants and handrails. It's pretty cool and each studio, gallery or rehearsal spaces hides further secrets to uncover. The only thing that doesn't seem to change is how cold my toes get after several hours in the building.


Somebody, who doesn't know me that well yet, asked me why a poet needed to go to a power tools class. But the answer seemed quite obvious. Should I want to write a poem that features power tools, I am now quite competent in their names, parts, and general kickback and mechanical whir to give it a go. Plus, I can cut, sand, and paint campervan cabinets there next summer. Then I'll be able to write poems in the van. Quite obvious really.

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