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October 22 was a big tadoo. TechShop held its grand opening and hosted a weekend of making. After TechShop opened its doors, makers with memberships gained access to all the cutting-edge tools, equipment and computers the shop offers.
While other maker spaces in St. Louis such as Create Space and Perennial also offer memberships that give access to training, workshop space, and tools, TechShop is unique in that it is situated on Cortex’s campus and interconnected with an existing national network of TechShops. And things seem to be going well; in the words of General Manager Mike Hill, “Each day is a new day and we get to observe incredible amounts of creativity, innovation and collaboration happening all the time. You never know what cool product you’re going to see being made when you step into the shop.”
TechShop now has 500+ members; we decided to check in and see what they’ve been up to.
Maker Name: Mark Donohoe
Company: Legacy Woodworks, LLC
Member since: Opening day (Membership awarded through VetBiz)
His craft: Legacy believes that now more than ever there is a need for a hands-on wood building toy that encourages creativity and enhances motor and cognitive skills, which at the same time remains a fun, family-oriented product for anyone at any age.
Why TechShop: At the time I was making my VersaNotch product in my garage using tools I owned. It would take me 1-2 days to make one set. This rate of production would not allow me to sell my product at a competitive price. I am very motivated to get my product out to the public. I lack the funds to approach a manufacturer on a large scale, so TechShop represents a great interim solution.
TechShop favorite: The help I receive from the “DC’s,” or Dream Consultants. I am new to CNC type machines and computer programing. I would not be able to use the Shopbot without their help and use of this machine is essential in manufacturing my product.
In the works: Legacy has a new product, VersaNotch, where I am the inventor and patent holder. I currently use VersaNotch as an activity at Senior Communities in the St. Louis area. This activity is sought by these communities for its “adultness” in that it is a challenging exercise in designing and building a log home. It encourages decision making and enhances motor skills.
Maker: Karen DeGuire
Company: Curious Cat Clothing
Member since: The grand opening in October
Her craft: I started Curious Cat Clothing to cater to the plus-size community. As a plus-size girl myself, I was hoping to provide for those who couldn’t just go into any store and buy whatever they wanted. Especially costumes. Now I make corsets, Hawaiian shirts, vests and more in all sorts of wonderful, nerdy, colorful fabrics!
Why TechShop: As a creative soul, I was so excited to see a mecca of creativity come to life. My initial plan was to figure out a way to cut out my corset bodies on the laser cutter. I have to cut through four layers of duck canvas for each piece of corset, and that’s very tiring for your hands. Admittedly, I’ve yet to work the kinks out of that idea, and I’ve gotten a little distracted with other projects!
TechShop favorite: I love the creative environment of TechShop. Being able to access the skills, ideas, and knowledge of other entrepreneurs is a very unique opportunity. I find myself getting inspired by seeing what others are doing there. I also feel like the staff is so welcoming and friendly. It’s like my home away from home.
In the works: As a seamstress, I thought I’d spend all my time in the textile bay, but I’ve found a new passion for some of my other interests that have been neglected since starting my sewing business. Now I make laser cut wooden trivets and coasters, and I made several tote bags on the long-arm quilting machine.
Maker Name: Craig Caesar
Member since: June 2016
His craft: MakerMakers is a training and fabrication business focused on inspiring, educating and supporting makers of all ages.
Why TechShop: I knew intuitively that this resource would accelerate my ability to move into 3D modeling and prototype fabrication. My initial goal was to design companion parts for electronics projects used in my STEM curriculum.
TechShop favorites: Having access to over 2 million dollars in tools makes it possible to prototype virtually any item you can imagine. The real way my membership has helped is the opportunity to network with other talented makers and TechShop’s “Dream Consultants.” I have been able to get past several blocking points in my designs by bouncing ideas off of the community at TechShop.
In the works: I used the software and laser cutters available at TechShop to design a flat pack “gravity table” cut in three pieces. It sets up in seconds using no glue or fasteners and is held together only with gravity.
One compelling benefit TechShop brings is that of community, collaboration, and can-do attitudes. Mike Hill explains, “Truly anyone can make something. A lot of times people get intimidated by the equipment or the software or some other factor, but if you truly have a desire to make something, there are people here, between staff and other members, who will help you overcome that fear and help you make something incredible.”