posts tagged with the keyword ‘mkemakerspace’

2018.06.16

beexcellent

Milwaukee Makerspace has a weekly meeting every Tuesday at 7pm. We go over upcoming events, new stuff happening at the space, and we show off projects and welcome guests. And there’s one more thing we do… we recognize awesomeness.

In an effort to make members aware of the fact that nothing happens at the space without a member doing it, we typically have a segment of the meeting where any member (or guest) can stand up and publicly thank another member for doing something awesome, or being awesome. Sometimes this might happen if a member sees another member take out the trash, or empty a vacuum cleaner, or it might happen if someone takes the time to help someone with their project, or to train them on a piece of equipment.

Milwaukee Makerspace has no employees, and no staff, and everyone who is a member is expected to volunteer in some way. Seven of the members volunteer to be on the Board of Directors. and they pay the same dues everyone else does, and besides helping to run the space, they help when and where they can. Some members serve as Area Champions, and are in charge of a specific area of the space, and get to make the rules there, and also get a budget and yet others don’t want any official responsibility, but are more than willing to pitch in when cleaning is needed on Space Improvement Day.

It’s common to hear someone stand up at a meeting and say “I want to thank Harvey for emptying all the trash cans today.” or “Thanks to Tom for getting us [insert name of tool he got on auction for super-cheap]!” And after a few meetings you start to see who the people are that are regular contributors to the space, and you come to value those people.

Members are always free to call out others on the mailing list when they are excellent, but there is something special about being recognized at a meeting, in person. Typically there’s some applause for the person being recogznied, and hopefully it makes them feel good about their contributions.

In the end, it’s one more way we’ve tried to help build a community of makers, and not just be a building full of tools and weird stuff.

abeexcellent

2018.05.16

wetherosies

We the Builders is a project that uses crowdsourced 3D printing to assemble large sculptures. For the most recent build, they decided to celebrate the contributions and diverse identities of women and non-binary makers by scaling up a sculpture of Rosie the Riveter to monument-size and printing her in a spectrum of skintones. The sculpture will be over six feet tall and made up of 2,625 parts.

I posted about this on the Milwaukee Makerspace Facebook page and asked for people interested in helping, and a woman named Gwen was interested. Seems her grandmother was an actual “Rosie” back in the day. We met up at Milwaukee Makerspace and tried to print a piece for her, and because 3D printing is full of failure, did not succeed.

So I printed it at home. And then I printed more for me, and more for her, and in total I think we did 10 parts. Sadly had to hit the road for BAMF so I didn’t get to print more, but it looks like (as of writing this) there are less than 250 pieces and we’ve still got five days.

gwen

When Gwen showed up to pick up the pieces (she offered to ship them) she was wearing an awesome Rosie shirt depicting the sculpture, so I asked her to get a photo of it with the pieces, and she did!

Sadly I will not be making it to NOMCON to assist with assembly, but I look forward to seeing the final piece, and hear about what happens next with the Nation of Makers. (I will be at BAMF though, so I hope to see other #WeTheBuilders people there!)

brownpieces

2018.05.07

Makerspace Autodidact

Typically an autodidact is described as a self-learner, and sometimes seen as “education without the guidance of masters or institutions”. An autodidact is an individual who chooses the subject he or she will study, his or her studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. I think makers and those who follow the DIY ethic are often autodidacts. I don’t think autodidacts have to work in solitude though, and can learn from others, but in a self-paced and more unstructured setting than what is typically seen in a classroom.

I’m proposing that membership to a makerspace can be considered “Job Training for the Autodidact”. If you’ve got the desire to learn, and you are willing to put in the time, the environment of a makerspace might be exactly what you need to gain the skills needed for your next job.

Milwaukee Makerspace currently has over 300 members. Among those members are people who are experts in woodworking, metalworking, digital fabrication, electronics, sewing, textiles, costuming, photography, film making, leather working, ceramics, casting and forging, and CNC. Want to learn to use a lathe, mill, table saw, sewing machine, or even write code? There’s probably people there who can teach you, and equipment for you to use. I guarantee I’ll probably never have a Bridgeport mill or Southbend lathe at my house, but I can learn to use both of them at Milwaukee Makerspace.

Pumping Station: One has over 400 members, and if you’re interested in embedded system development you could join their NERP meetup and start learning. If instead you’re interested in some of the things I mentioned above when talking about Milwaukee Makerspace, don’t worry, PS:1 has almost all the same equipment, and most likely members with similar expertise. Also, it’s worth mentioning that at Milwaukee Makerspace we have some members who have worked in an industry for their whole lives and then retired, and joined the space. I’ve heard at least half a dozen new members say “I’m a retired machinist, and I live right down the street, and this place is awesome!”

Now, not every space will have all of the same tools or expertise, but they are typically filled with people that possess a great desire to learn new things, and as someone who has hired people, that’s one of the most valuable skills a potential employee can possess.

A friend of mine mentioned that his son was interested in carpentry, or some other job that involved “working with his hands” and I suggested that joining the makerspace might be a great way to learn about different jobs and trades and get hands-on with some different tools and equipment and making and see what really interests him.

(That said, I always warn people who are all fired up and ready to learn that it can take time… Training on equipment doesn’t always happen as quickly as people would like, and occasionally things are broken or not working at 100%, but some patience goes a long way.)

I’ve personally benefited from the knowledge and skills I’ve learned at Milwaukee Makerspace and hold my current position in part due to my $40 a month membership and doing all I could to learn new skills the first few years I was a member. (And yes, I continue to learn new things every day!)

I’m considering doing a survey, because I’d really like to see who has been hired due to new skills they’ve learned at Milwaukee Makerspace. Even if you’re not interested in a new job, or advancing in your career, I think a makerspace membership can help make you a more well rounded person, who perhaps knows more than just the skills needed to get by each day. And to be honest, you never know when a new skill might come in handy.

2018.01.31

green-button-box

I tend to make objects. Things. Pieces. Sometimes I think I can apply the word “sculpture” to them, mainly because sometimes there isn’t a better word to describe them (especially if they are to be considered “art”.)

Many of the things I make are “functional” in that they do a thing. But what is that thing? What does it mean to do a thing? They might make something happen, or move, or light up. The might be kinetic or reactive or interactive. They may solve a problem. They may make the world a better place. They might look pleasing.

And then there’s jewelry…

I’ve had a strange relationship with jewelry. I never really cared for jewelry. Beyond the relationship humans have with jewelry, and how it fits into society, I just never really cared about making jewelry. I think that some art instructors use jewelry making as a way to teach process and making, and maybe use it because many (most?) people like it and would like to have jewelry, or maybe because it’s such a personal thing. I mean, it’s work on the body. That’s personal, right?

ring-vise

I even ended up making a piece of jewelry for a class titled “Machines that Make”. I designed a hammer ring. I learned a bit more about Rhino, and I got a print made by Shapeways, which was a good experience, but as far as a piece of jewelry, I didn’t care about it. (I mean, It’s an interesting object, but I’m not going to wear it. Like many of the things I make, there’s humor somewhere deep inside of it. Or maybe on the surface. I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out.)

Much of my art & design background involved 2D work, which, let’s be honest, often hangs on a wall, or is just seen and doesn’t do a thing. But doesn’t it do a thing? Does it provoke thought or emotions? Does it instruct or inform? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you happy? Things do things.

I remember back in a high school art class we had to make a ring. I had zero interest in wearing a ring or making a ring, and I really dragged on the project. I think I eventually finished it (late) and I don’t even know what happened to it. It was a piece I just didn’t care about. I probably could have learned about etching metal, and creating different kinds of resists, but I just wasn’t invested. (I know, this is all a person thing.)

My daughter has started to make jewelry. I’m excited about it. Not because I like jewelry, but because she likes jewelry. Or, maybe she just likes making things. It seems therapeutic. She’s mostly doing wire wrapped jewelry. I use wire for electronics and for securing things. Making jewelry with it? I guess some people do that.

ring-mads

She also learned how to do metal casting, which is awesome. I know a little about metal casting, and it’s something I wish I knew more about (but there are only so many hours in the day.) I’m glad she has the opportunity to learn it.

Also, Daleks…

What? Daleks? Yeah, well, Jon H. at Milwaukee Makerspace is the Jewelry Area Champion, and besides helping people make Daleks, helps people make jewelry. Or, learn how to make jewelry. Jon is an interesting guy. I’ve heard him called a “Retired Magician” though maybe he still is a magician! He’s got a lot of skills and is willing to share them. So yeah, sometimes you see Dalek parts being made in the jewelry area, because, the process is similar, sort of. Right? I don’t know…

Where is all this going? I’m really not sure. As I said, I’ve had a complicated relationship with jewelry. I don’t wear it, I’m not a big fan. It’s a personal thing. I don’t really like drawing attention to myself. I mean, my self. My physical being. I don’t mind using words to make myself known, or sharing my work, but I don’t want the focus on my physical body. That’s just how I am. I’m weird. Maybe. I don’t know.

dalek-jewelry

Well that turned into a rambling mess about art and objects and jewelry that I wasn’t fully expecting. Writing can be like that sometimes… What do you think?

2017.12.26

five-dollars

Milwaukee Makerspace dues are currently $40 per month for a “full” membership, and we allow each member to “vote” for what areas they want to support with their dollars. In our membership software a member can choose up to five areas to fund, with a total of $5.00 per month. You can put all $5 towards one area, or split it up among multiple areas.

For instance, if you tend to use the laser cutters a lot, you can put your $5 towards the laser cutters. This compounds with the funds from other members, and creates a pool of money for the laser cutters that the Area Champion then gets as a budget. The Area Champion decides how to spend the money. They can purchase spare parts, materials, software, etc. Consumables tend to be at the top of the list for many areas. For the laser cutters that may be cleaning supplies and new lenses, and they may want to have enough cash reserve on hand to purchase something more expensive, like a new laser tube, if needed.

Other areas might stock up on tape, blades, glue, small tools, etc. Besides building up a fund for each area, the “vote with your dollars” method also allows the members (and Board of Directors) to see which areas are the most popular. (Assuming people put their money towards the areas they care about and use.)

Here’s an snapshot of the funding as of the writing of this post. (The raw data is available here.) Note that a low dollar amount doesn’t necessarily mean an area is unpopular, as they may have just spent all of their cash. It’s better to look at the monthly allocation to get an idea of the popularity of an area, listed as “Current Member Funding” on the page.

Area Dollars
3D Printing Area $830.03
Anodizing Area $0.00
Forge Area $1,198.82
Casting Area $635.25
Ceramics Area $356.04
CNC Area $496.36
Craft Lab $847.76
Electronics Lab $725.66
Metal Finishing Area $163.48
Jewelry Area $575.60
Laser Lab $2,642.60
Leatherworking Area $339.50
Maker Faire Funding $677.29
Metal Shop $1,134.20
206.76 $189.01
Power Racing $163.67
Print Area $189.80
Soda Fund $129.00
Vacuum Former $164.35
Welding Area $624.22
Wood Shop $1,482.69

Besides the $5.00 per month that members can allocate, they can also choose to donate directly to these areas using our member management software (which is built on Wild Apricot.) This is a good way to support an area that you might use infrequently. For instance, I used the Paint Room quite a lot for two weeks leading up to Maker Faire, so I just did a straight donation to that area rather than change my monthly allocation.

I mentioned “full” member above, and that’s because we also have “family” members, who are add-on members that only pay $10.00 per month for their membership. We scale down their $5.00 per month to just $1.25 per month, so they can choose up to five areas to support, but at only 25 cent per area.

Obviously not all spaces can operate in this fashion, but with close to 300 members and a good financial standing we’ve got what I think is a pretty good system.

So, how does your space do it?

(Note: I was told that the Anodizing Area was rolled into the Metal Finishing Area, so that’s why the number is $0.00. It’s still in the system due to legacy reasons.)

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