Tag Archives: cool stuff

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.

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True/False tuneage

My brain is still reeling from the EIGHT documentary films I saw at the True/False Film Festival this weekend in Columbia, MO. The films create this mind-boggling yo-yo effect, the way they take you on a journey through macro issues in broad scope and compelling personal narratives that will bring tears to your eyes. It’s too much for me to type now, but I’ll share in a post tomorrow!

But first, a tiny taste of True/False busker awesomeness. I fell in love with Pearl and the Beard, a Brooklyn band that played before a few of the movies this weekend.

All three of the band members have spine tinglingly amazing voices, and their songs range from rollicking to almost ethereal. This latest music video doesn’t show the band, and it’s not at all what I pictured when they played this song live, but it’s gorgeous and makes me want to give hot pink yarn to all of the little girls I know.

Check them out!

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It’s a birdhouse! It’s a treehouse for Borrowers! It’s a Tiny Library!

Delightful morsel of the day: This article on Little Free Libraries.

Barely bigger than a birdhouse, there’s a movement to install wee take-a-book, leave-a-book swapping spaces in yards all across America.

Is this not the cutest thing ever? Image via LittleFreeLibrary.org

I’m going to try to forget for a minute that our next house project should probably be sealing the basement and think about how awesome it would be to install one of these. We live on a boulevard that’s super popular for runners and walkers, so I imagine lots of people would use it! I’m always telling Joe how I want to put something weird in our yard so we’ll be “that house” that people use to give landmark directions. “Oh, we’re just a block east of that house with the weird tiny library in the front lawn!” (I bet you hooligans would put trash in it in two seconds, but I’ll try not to let my library fantasy dissolve.)

I imagine there are a bajillion different designs you could come up with, but the Little Free Library site offers some plans, too.

If you are a fan of miniature things, you have to check out the miniature barn museum in the Amana Colonies. It’s super weird.

What are you reading? I just started “In the Garden of Beasts,” by Erik Larson. Who, on the topic of libraries, is coming to Des Moines for the DMPL AViD series this May!

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What I’m into

Back when I worked at Juice, the staff would contribute to a weekly column of random stuff we were “into” that week. In the same spirit, here are a few things that have me smiling:

Insane Art Formed by Carving Books with Surgical Tools

I saw a link to this on a Facebook friend’s wall and the intricate nature of this art was jaw-droppingly awesome. Pinterest is full of crafts that involve repurposing old books, but this goes so far beyond anything I’ve seen before. Talk about a word or image popping out at you. Isn’t this neat? Read more about Brian Dettmer’s process.


A whopping SEVEN women I’m close to (that I know of) are pregnant right now. I will confess that baby fever is catching. I sent this Fuel/Friends “Freshly Hatched” Mix to my friend Amy whose little baby bump is super adorable. Totally excited that there was a David Wax Museum song on it!


My college BFF Amanda is getting married in the Dominican this May and we bridesmaids get to wear Kelly Green dresses for the occasion. I might already own a Kelly Green dress, but this Modcloth number is calling my name:

If I get it now, I could wear it for St. Patrick’s Day, too! Speaking of, have you listened to The Chieftains new album? They sing with all sorts of awesome indie bands.

True story: I orchestrated a big family gathering to go see The Chieftains a couple of years ago. I made little doo-dads for everyone’s lapel and tiny leprechaun hats. It was so much fun!

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