Dabble Fuses Fun With Adventure in Denver’s Growing Arts Community

By Guest Blogger Andy Mullins 

“That really was the moment that Denver’s opportunities for our business came alive,” says Chad Copeland, owner and lead fabricator at C-Squared Studios.

Copeland, 28, opened his metal fabrication and woodworking studio at its current location, 1501 Dahlia St., with the hope of connecting the Denver arts community to his love for all things fabrication.

With a heightened sense of adventure and knack for seeing a project long before it takes form, Copeland and business partner Jack Allen set their sights on the establishment of their studio at the local level.

“Denver is oozing art, opportunity, and an idealistic notion that you can be who you are, especially through your work. We wanted to first get connected with some locals that would be interested in learning more about what it is we have to offer and build from there,” says Copeland.

Enter Dabble.

Formed in 2011, Dabble makes it easy to try something new or share your passion through one-time affordable classes. As Dabble’s site tells, “Explore the city around you, meet cool people and expand your horizons – because doing something today is so much better than putting life on the back burner.”

Without seeking a quantification of Dabble’s potential effect on their studio, the partners of C-Squared began hosting ‘Welding 101’ classes with the aim of inspiring others through their love of metal fabrication. What started as a fun side project in their shop space has developed into a winning situation for both the studio and Dabble, which is seeking to grow its user base in Colorado, says Dabble’s Denver-based Community Architect, Whitney Daly.

“Dabble, as a platform, is absolutely amazing. It provides anyone the opportunity to learn something new, most often at a minimal cost. The classes that C-Squared Studios are offering are right in line with what we’re trying to accomplish: local, accessible, affordable adventure and skill building!”

Allen echoes this sentiment.

“Chad and I have always had the idea of some sort of class and/or collaborative space. I liked the general idea, but was skeptical of the mechanics and business model involved. Dabble is amazing as they provide a relatively risk-free, turnkey, low volume platform to teach a class.”

Now celebrating its one year anniversary in Denver, C-Squared Studios is planning the launch of more classes, including a bike repair starter class led by Allen, who boasts years of experience in bike building, maintenance, and athleticism.

Says Allen, “Denver is a huge bike community, that much is apparent. And while we fully support small business and bike shops, we also believe that it’s important for cyclists to know their way around their own bike: tire changing, brake adjustments, that kind of stuff. I was surprised to find out there were not any bicycle repair classes offered on Dabble in Denver, but I am happy to be the first.”

Another win, says Daly, who has signed up for the first class herself.

“One of our mottos at Dabble is ‘Explore the city around you, meet cool people, and expand your horizons.’ C-Squared Studios are offering the opportunity to achieve all of these things right here in Denver’s own backyard. It’s an exciting time to cultivate a new hobby!”

As these two companies look to the future with wide eyes and hopeful enthusiasm, one sentiment rings true: the fun has only just begun in the Mile High City.

The Class – A First Hand Experience

The ‘Welding 101’ class takes place on a cool August night at C-Squared Studios, which is located in the alley of a residential neighborhood in a building that also houses band practice studios. The almost subliminal drone of guitar and drums sets the background for a fun, active night.

This particular class is made up of four people: three women and a young man, all of whom note their desire to eventually pursue their own welding projects at home. Personal goals are outlined during the class introduction before Allen provides an overview of what to expect.

The duo start off by discussing all aspects of welding including history, the basics of common welding and cutting processes, and shop safety.

“Safety first: don’t look; it’s bright, don’t touch; it’s hot, and watch out overhead; welding above means molten steel can fall below!”

“They’re very thorough,” says Daly, who attended this class for the first time on Aug. 19th. Daly As the Denver-based Dabble team member, Daly delights the “crew” with a surprise gift of swag and beer that complements her fun, engaging persona.

Allen kicks off the welding portion of the event by outlining MIG welding. MIG welding is common both in the manufacturing, fabrication, and repair industries as well as among artists and amateur fabricators. The relatively low level of operator skill required to achieve basic proficiency results in MIG welding being particularly well suited to giving a range of students a basic hands-on introduction to the world of welding.

“MIG welding is mainly what we’ll be doing tonight,” says a leather-cladden Allen, who attended school for engineering at University of Illinois – Chicago. “We’ll also try to play around with the plasma cutter if we have time. That’s a favorite!”

Plasma cutting is the process of cutting through electrically conductive materials by means of an accelerated jet of hot plasma. Fun would be one way to describe the process for those who’ve not “played” with this type of device before.

Safety rules are quickly recapped and basic etiquettes described; taking turns, notifying your fellow welders before you start, etc. The group flows through the experience with smiles and laughs as skill comparisons begin to formulate and challenges emerge.

What I really enjoyed about this particular Dabble class was not only the learning experience but the entertaining puns, led by Allen’s sense of humor.

“All of these gases, which you’ll remember from your high school chemistry class; well, uh, maybe not, hahaha…. are considered inert gasses.” His light humor is speckled throughout the evening’s jabber.

Copeland provides a sort of announcer commentary as the group advances their newfound skills by piecing together two metal rods. Further commentary flows back and forth between Allen and Copeland as they finish up the night by diving into various specifics like travel angle and wire feed speed.

After completing the welding experience, complete with a take-home sculpture each person made themselves, the group kicks back over a beer to recap the new experience and a job well done.

Another ‘Welding 101’ class hits the book with a sense of adventure tamed, though for how long no one may know….

For information on services and classes offered at C-Squared Studios visit: www.c-squaredstudios.com.

About C-Squared Studios

C-Squared Studios is about custom work, designed and built from scratch by hand. Our passion is creating one of a kind elements that are pleasing to the eye and fitting for the environment in which they live. Our capable fabricators strive to create unsurpassed custom design elements for your home, landscape, office or business space. We work hand in hand with each of our clients to make ideas a reality. Lacking clarity on the creative components of your idea? Our team can conceptualize and offer design solutions for any aesthetic.

About Dabble

Dabble, Tech.Co’s 2015 ‘Start Up of the Year,’ is a community marketplace for people to teach, discover and host affordable classes in their community. Classes range across topics – from the typical (Creative Writing and Computer Programming) to the more obscure (Beekeeping and Kimchi). Dabble is a means for people to accessibly explore their interests in a fun, low-commitment way. It fills a void that currently exists between very purpose-based education and pure entertainment. Dabble allows everyday experts to share their passions with the world (while making a few bucks on the side). By facilitating ticket sales and transactions, Dabble makes the process of listing a class effortless and efficient. Dabble launched its beta in Chicago in May 2011. It received the People’s Choice Award at Tech Week Chicago 2011, and participated in IDEO Chicago’s Startup in Residence program.

About Andy Mullins

Born and raised in northwest Indiana, Andy moved to Denver with a peculiar sense of adventure for all things outdoors. A Purdue grad (Boiler Up!) and ardent skier, Andy provides communication support for a variety of organizations including the Autism Society of Colorado and C-Squared Studios. Having discovered the magic of Dabble, Andy frequents local classes to fulfill a bottomless interest in continually learning from others while deepening his connections with Denver’s broad community. Follow Andrew on Instagram via @thisisandymullins or on Twitter via @molehands.