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MakerSpace: A Downtown Design Gem

By Emily Zalla

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES DESIGNERS A LITTLE CRANKY.

As designers, it’s important to stay fresh and inspired; sometimes that means stepping outside of the rigor of strategic design to test out a new medium or style. Creative burnout is a real phenomenon, but luckily for all of us, there’s always something new to learn. If you can build time for learning and playing into your workload, two things will happen: you’ll create more, and you’ll create better. With this in mind, Hyperquake’s designers have been taking some serious advantage of the MakerSpace lately.

SPACE TO MAKE SOMETHING NEW.

In January 2015, the main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County opened its MakerSpace to the community for the first time. It started with a single 3D printer purchase in 2014, which ignited a spark that quickly grew into a community haven for makers of all stripes. Following the vision of its director Ella Mulford-Chinn, the MakerSpace is designed to provide a space for creative Cincinnatians not only to consume media, but to design and create it.

YOU CAN STAY BUSY FOR AWHILE.

The MakerSpace provides tools to which most people—even professional designers—might never have access. If you’re even marginally creative, spending a few minutes in the MakerSpace will have you feeling a bit like Charlie Bucket following Willy Wonka around that chocolate factory. Glass cases in the entryway showcase a few of the things people have made using these resources—a laser cut chess set, a skateboard deck covered in printed vinyl decals, and hand-sewn bags and quilts are just the tip of the creative iceberg.

OUR TOOL OF CHOICE THIS MONTH: THE LASER CUTTER.

Inspired by the simple fact we’d never used a laser cutter before, our design team made a quick logo treatment for a wooden sign. I’ll readily admit that we mistakenly brought ½” plywood to our first reservation (yes, you do have to make reservations, so plan accordingly), and as a result, didn’t accomplish much—but we did learn all about correct file setup and software settings. Early mistakes aside, we managed to cut every single shape and letter during our second session, and with a couple of coats of stain and some twisted chain, we assembled a pretty sharp-looking hanging sign for our Shop area (where we keep our tools and such).

BASICALLY JUST A TOY SHOP—BUT FOR ADULTS TOO.

The dangerous thing about learning a new technique is that you immediately want to learn more. The machine is capable of more than cutting wood—it can etch as well, and it can handle materials ranging from glass and acrylic to wood and paper. We made a third reservation to test its precision using the designer’s standard: a piece of paper. We ran tests on several weights of paper using intricate patterning designs, which (to our surprise) held up beautifully in the machine.

Safe to say, we’re pretty inspired—and we’re ready to go back for more. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see this method and style utilized in a Hyperquake client project this year.

THE MAKERSPACE IS FOR EVERYONE.

Want to make something yourself? Try out any of the resources below by making a reservation with your library card. Or if you’re not sure what you want to make quite yet, just wander in and tap someone on the shoulder. It’s a collaborative space; and with the staff and other creatives on hand, somebody there will be ready to teach and inspire you.

MakerSpace Offerings:

  • Button makers
  • Ellison die cutting machine
  • Silhouette Cameo electronic cutting tool
  • 3-D printers
  • Audio recording booth
  • Canon DSLR cameras
  • Espresso book printing machine
  • Laser cutter/engraver
  • Large format vinyl printer/cutter
  • Sewing stations
  • VHS to digital conversion
  • VHS to DVD conversion
  • Cassette tape to digital conversion
  • Slide and image scanner
  • High performance computers
  • Software packages to complete projects
  • 3Doodler
  • Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory
  • MaKey MaKey

(FYI—If you have a library card with a Boone, Kenton or Campbell County library, you’re not out of the loop! Just bring it in, along with address verification and ID, to receive a Cincinnati library card through its reciprocal membership program.)

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