Makerspace a home for creativity

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Jenny Bruce, coordinator of Makerspace at the Epicenter, demonstrates the use of one of the space’s scroll saws in cutting intricate images in wood on Tuesday.

By Michael Kelly

The Marietta Times

Got something you’d like to make, but don’t have the tools, or maybe you need some help with the expertise?

Got skills you’d like to pass along to others?

The Makerspace would like to see you.

The Makerspace at the Epicenter is running full tilt, with equipment available and a slate of classes and outreach events. The project, which got underway last year, now has a full-time coordinator –Jenny Bruce — and is taking memberships from people interested in creating anything that requires tools, a workspace and perhaps some instruction or assistance.

Part of the Building Bridges to Careers — BB2C for short — The Makerspace takes up three rooms in one wing of the building on Lancaster Street formerly occupied by Tenney & Associates on Marietta’s west side.

Bruce is overseeing the project, with help from a newly hired assistant, Zach LaBarre, a 21-year-old who came across the job through an employment program of Ohio Job and Family Services.

“I started here Jan. 2 with two empty rooms and a shop full of donated items that needed to be sorted,” Bruce said. “Community donations will keep this going, along with volunteers to teach and mentor.”

Bruce and LaBarre were moving items around Tuesday afternoon as the settling-in process continues. One room is occupied by woodworking equipment, most of it donated, that includes scroll saws, a planer, a table saw and a sander. In the works, Bruce said, are a drill press and a laser cutter. The equipment already set up in the room, she said, is getting use. A stack of blank wooden Easter bunnies, cut out on one of the scroll saws and primed, stands on a worktable, waiting for children who will come in to paint them March 24 and 31.

Bruce has recruited volunteer instructors, set up classes and is doing outreach work, this week alone having made presentations at the Washington County Public Library branches in New Matamoras and Beverly. On St. Patrick’s Day, a volunteer instructor is coming in to help anyone who attends continue an old Gaelic tradition. Travis Warren, founder of Warren Custom Furniture, will conduct a class in carving wooden spoons, which Bruce said men in Gaelic society would offer to women they fancied as a gesture of courtship.

In the technology room are five 3-D printers hooked up to computers, all on loan from the Washington County Public Library.

“Anyone who is a member of the library can come in and use these for free,” Bruce said, twirling a dial to set the program input on one of the printers, then sending it instructions from a terminal. The machine began a musical whirring as it started printing out a heart-shaped bookmark made of plastic.

Behind the doors of a cabinet on one wall, she revealed a case fall of disused desktop computers donated by the library.

“We’re going to use these as a teardown demonstration to show people the parts of a computer, then we have someone coming who will show people how to make art out of computer parts,” she said.

In a display case outside the room, metallic and plastic parts are made into other-worldy floral arrangements.

The third room in the complex is a work area for cloth and fiber, with cabinets stocked with donated material, and it also serves as the location for crocheting workshops and, recently, a basic painting course attended by six people.

Bruce said she will soon have some metal-working equipment as well.

“This is a place where people can socialize, teach, mentor and be mentored,” she said.

Brent Smith, a retired plastics and chemical industry worker from Belpre, said he heard about the Makerspace through his son, who attends Warren High School and told him one day he had heard that there was a 3-D printer available in Marietta. A visit to the Makerspace eventually led him to become a volunteer instructor.

“I’m hands-on around the house,” he said. “I’m enjoying my time off in retirement, and I like helping people. This is really exciting for the area, and it’s another set of choices for our kids.”

“We hope to match people like Brent up with young people,” Bruce said. “This is an ongoing project, and people are invited to add to the beauty of it.”

Makerspace at the Epicenter

¯ What: A place that provides tools and space for creative people.

¯ Where: 107 Lancaster St.

¯ Equipment: 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, planer, table saw, scroll saw, sander, welding gear, flex-fiber arts classroom

¯ This month: Introductory memberships, $35 a month for six months.

¯For information: 740-370-6399.