- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - When asked to describe what she and the other founders of SHAK Makerspace had envisioned when they began thinking about a community creative space, President Nan Braun looked over the large project room and knew they had gotten it right.

“Our vision was a lot like this. It’s come to life,” she said. “We wanted to be able to bring a makerspace with a diverse capability into the community.”

SHAK, which stands for Spirit of Haynes and Apperson Kokomo, celebrated its ribbon-cutting on Monday, opening its doors to curious community members looking for a space to build and flex their creative muscles at 2538 N. Washington St. Since September, volunteers have spent countless hours transforming a building that was built in the 1950s as a bread distribution center into a kind of creative breeding ground for people to innovate, tinker and build.

During the grand opening, guests got a crash course from makers who were performing demonstrations in the space’s fiber lab, wood shop, basket weaving and 3-D printing labs, offering a sneak peek into the space’s capabilities.

The space is tailor made to house a number of different types of projects for people of all ages and ability levels, Braun said.

“One of the things I love about this space is our large project room,” she said. “You’ve got a 14-foot ceiling, so you can do things you can’t do in your garage. You can do things with large groups here, so Scouts or 4-H groups can come in here and do builds. It’s the perfect place to come in and do a project on a Saturday.”

Memberships for the space, which are $35 per month for individuals, allow you to do everything from learning how to sew to weaving and dyeing fabrics in the fiber arts section of the building. That room houses sewing machines, a table loom and a rug loom, as well as different kinds of cloth and dyeing tools.

In another room, you can use software to design just about anything and then use a 3-D printer to turn it into reality.

With SHAK fully up and running, members also will have access to welding equipment, a pottery kiln, art supplies, all kinds of woodworking tools and an industrial-sized sandblaster.

The vision for the space dates back almost five years before the board was formed in 2013. It wasn’t until their future landlord and board member Jon Russell had heard that Braun and others were seeking a makerspace location that things came together.

Russell, who had been looking for an opportunity to sell or lease out the space in recent years, said he will co-occupy the space and offer advice to members on how to use the equipment.

“It was a semi-heavy commercial space to begin with and it was used as a studio, so there was all kinds of equipment that I’m allowing them to use,” he said. “It’s always been used in a functional way. It’s never been an office building.”

Member Evie Fell, whose husband Alan is a board member with SHAK, said the diversity of equipment and space offers do-it-yourself types endless opportunities to not only build and create, but collaborate with experts.

“Where am I going to find a studio for $35 per month?” she said. “I can come here and work all of the hours I want and my supplies are covered. Plus you have the interaction with people who have a lot of real knowledge.”

Braun said SHAK will need around 50 members to be sustainable.

“We’re already halfway to that goal,” she said. “We feel pretty confident we can do that and be sustainable in the community, we just need people to show up and check us out.”

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, http://bit.ly/1UzBcvv

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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