So if I told you there was a place you could go to print and cut large scale vinyl, engrave or cut wood (or acrylic or glass!), 3D print almost anything you could need, sew a costume, or record a song, would you want to go with me? So did my family! In fact, within a few days we were visiting the new Cincinnati Library MakerSpace.
Like a workshop, lab, and tech classroom all rolled in one, the MakerSpace is a wonderful place to learn in a hands‐on environment, as well as use equipment that is often too costly for personal studios or home use. Library employees were on hand to help with the equipment and explain how it worked as we used it for the first time.
My 14 year old has been trying to convince us he needs a 3D printer for several months (he’s NOT getting one!), so he made a beeline for that area while the rest of us were still taking off coats. One of the library’s employees staffing the area had him up and running in no time. The hardest part was deciding what to make.
It took around an hour and a half to print a plastic Bat Signal for his phone. We each spent more than a few minutes staring at it up close, watching it build the gizmo between making other projects.
I was most excited about the laser cutter & engraver. Not knowing exactly what I would need for the machine, I brought along a file to test and used the library’s $1.00 wood plaque to engrave it on. The first photo shows the machine engraving one of my art images, (the etched glass block backed with copper foil was a library test project). Now that I’ve had some experience with the machine, I can’t wait to come back with some thinner wood, glass, and acrylic to try.
The smaller kids, 12 & 9, were perfect ages for the Mini MakerSpace. They especially liked making their own buttons to wear, using art they drew at the station or printed from the banks of computers (which also have full Adobe Creative Suite installed).
The Egg‐Bot was another winner. They created their own designs on the software, then the machine will draw the design using marker on a ping pong ball or other curved surface. The kids had fun, and I loved that they were using technology to make art. Button blanks and ping‐pong balls were only 5 cents each. Deal!
The last machine we tried on our creative field trip was the large‐scale vinyl printer and cutter. We printed a 3×4 banner on outdoor vinyl for scouts with excellent results, and watched the group before us print some stunning photos on glossy paper. I wish this had been available when I needed trade show booth printing!
We made reservations (as recommended) to make sure we could use a couple of the machines we really wanted to try, but on the weeknight we visited most machines were open or had minimal wait times. You can make reservations for specific machines at the MakerSpace website using your library card.
We all left completely excited about the Cincinnati Library MakerSpace and all it had to offer. Of course, I was already brewing up ideas for using the equipment to make projects for CSD. But I was surprised at how much the rest of the family enjoyed the space. The two techies were interested in using the machines and to make physical projects and gadgets, and the two more traditionally “creative” ones enjoyed the process of creating art using the technology. It was a great mix for our family. All 3 of the kids have asked when we’re going back, which makes it a total win for me!
Do you have a MakerSpace near you? I’d love to hear about it. If not, I hope you will take your own creative field trip and give it a try!
Thanks for stopping by!