Story and Photos by JD Dotson
I was first introduced to the idea of Maker13 by the owners in a tent at Harvest Homecoming 2015. I bought some small, laser-cut wood pieces to use in my jewelry making and picked up a brochure about the Maker Mobile and a future “makerspace,” a place where people from all walks of life would have access to resources, equipment, technology and knowledge they otherwise might not have the opportunity to use.
I have always been an artist and crafter, but the expense of equipment and space has left me relying on others. The thought of a makerspace in Southern Indiana made my head swim with possibilities.
With backing from the Ogle Center, John Riley and Brian Niehoff designed and brought to life a mobile version in the Maker Mobile, a non-profit, fully functioning maker studio on wheels. Maker Mobile is a 32-foot trailer outfitted with laser cutters, 3Dprinters, Vinyl Cutters, computer stations and more. It travels to schools, organizations and robotic competitions all over Southern Indiana and Kentucky educating and exposing people to opportunities to create and build.
With their engineering expertise in the field, Riley and Niehoff enlisted a finance and accounting specialist and a marketing entrepreneur to join in opening Maker13 in Jeffersonville. Together, husband and wife teams John and Christy Riley and Brian and Lauren Niehoff, have built a space for dreamers and artists, small business owners, crafters, builders and curious people like me wanting to be all of the above. The unassuming. charcoal gray building in Jeffersonville houses a beautifully-decorated interior, and an incredible collection of tools and machines, some I am familiar with and some I am itching with curiosity to learn.
Maker13 has many options for membership, including ones for individuals, families and businesses. There is a weekender membership, monthly memberships or rates for the year. There are even scholarships available for qualifying makers. Classes are offered for each of the machines in the space for a small fee. Once the class has been completed, you are free to sign up to use the machine of your choice. Maker13 also offers events, one-time classes, date nights and group events, and parent and child classes to members and non-members alike. Some of the classes and events include handmade cutting boards, trivets, paint and stencil classes, mason jar candy dispenser class and an Etch and Brew with a local beer distiller.
The list of equipment at Maker13 is extensive. Surrounding several work tables and computer stations is a bank of Ultimaker 3D printers, which lay down thin layers of melted plastic to build your three-dimensional design. Maker13 is an authorized reseller of the Ultimaker 3D printer as well.
Next to the printers are three different sizes of laser-etching and -cutting machines. Materials ranging from wood to slate, metal, plastic and glass can be etched or cut using these machines. Sewing machines and an embroidery machine cover an area in the corner. A vinyl printer and digital vinyl cutter align the wall with capabilities of printing on all types of material, including vinyl stickers, heat transfers for t-shirts, and printing on canvas. The woodshop in the back of the Maker13 space is home to your basic wood shop tools: hand power tools, miter, band and table saws as well as some not-so-basic machines. The CNC ShopBot Router and CNC Metal Mill are cutting, drilling, carving and machining powerhouses. These smart machines are perfect for furniture making, machine part manufacturing, sculptural pieces, sign making and any type of woodworking a creative mind can dream up.
The staff does an amazing job training curious novices in the operation of all the machines, as well as in safety procedures and finding online resource material. The machines can be intimidating at first, but the classes have given me confidence and boosted my creativity with endless possibilities to realize a dream of starting or enhancing a small business, jumpstarting creativity, the ability to design something and see it come to life, and the tools to build everything imaginable. I am starting to rethink my year-long membership. I should’ve signed up for the lifetime option.
Open House 6:30-8:30 p.m.
629 Michigan Ave.