Field trip: New Area 515 maker space

My favorite childhood memories with my dad involve sawdust. He was an architect, and we had a basement workshop and tool-lined walls in the never-tidy garage. I remember spending hours sawing projects and hammering things before my mom would call us up for dinner. (I was obsessed with the idea of owning a pig after the movie “Babe” came out, and so he and my brother and I made these crude wooden “pigs” — complete with cardboard snout and googly eyes.) I also remember him making a flippy wooden toy acrobat. Although my brother, an engineer, seemed to inherit my dad’s drafting skills, I think I got his propensity to leave a project 3/4 finished and to eyeball measurements instead of using a ruler and level. Ha!

When I heard about some people in Des Moines opening a new maker space, “Area 515,” I wanted to check it out.

When I heard about some people in Des Moines opening a new maker space, “Area 515,” I wanted to check it out. Joe and I swung by the Saturday open house this past weekend. It’s in the Whittier art collective building, the crumbling old school over off E. 14th where Sensory Overload took place in May. I think I was expecting the space to be a liiiittle more finished for the open house, but it’s definitely a cool concept that I hope gains resources and momentum. Plus, I got to see a 3-D printer in action for the first time!

There was a guy there playing an acoustic guitar and singing about robots. Totally geektactular. Area 515 is working on gaining official nonprofit status, and the idea is that members will purchase either one month or one-year passes to key into the space. They’re collecting tools with the idea that they’ll do more good in a shared space than they would in the basements and garages of members. It will be especially cool for apartment-dwellers jonseing to make things.

The other added benefit of a space like this is the way that collective knowledge and mentorship can happen organically. (Sarah of Craft-a-Day once told me about the Des Moines Woodworkers Association, which she says is another awesome resource.) Maker Spaces are gaining steam all over the place, so it’s cool for a group to take the lead bringing the concept here. Rochester has one, so does Milwaukee, Dallas, etc. MAKE zine has a nice little list.

What tools/ classes do you wish were available through a local maker space?


This is completely unrelated, but I can’t believe I hadn’t yet thought about making a gourd into a manatee before. Genius. Next Halloween.

1 Comment

Filed under I love Des Moines

One response to “Field trip: New Area 515 maker space

  1. Hey Brianne, thanks for stopping by the space on Saturday. Feel free to come by and partially complete a project anytime. 😉

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