Joe Dandron The Columbus Dispatch
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From woodworking to plasma cutting, laser cutting, 3D printing or even starting your own Etsy business, the "Idea Foundry" is ready to help you learn or launch.
Between an interactive wall of metal pop culture cutouts and a plasma woodcutter inside the Idea Foundry in Franklinton is a group of movers, shakers and doers.
It's a community of creators that was started 13 years ago when it opened to the public.
For the last year, it's been closed to everyone but paying members, but reopened to the public for classes June 1. People from the community again can join the collaborative environment as the return to normalcy begins.
"(The public classes are) how you learn to use the tools," said Alex Bandar, the 47-year-old founder of the Idea Foundry. "Woodworking, plasma cutting, laser cutting, welding, 3D printing, photography, starting your own Etsy business, starting your own website.
"(Having the public back inside is) huge — we’ve been waiting all year for it. That’s been our bread and butter for 13 years: Being a community-centric space for Columbus’ techies, creatives, entrepreneurs, makers, movers and shakers."
An open house May 22 allowed those from outside the list of paying members to sign up for classes giving them access to join the organization for $45 a month, which grants access to workshops. For $185 monthly, members get 24/7 access to the community, tools, resources and workspace. The Idea Foundry has grown to more than 700 paying members, Bandar said. The large majority of members began with public classes.
"You have to take our classes to be certified to use our tools. So if you want to become a member to use our tools, you have to do that," Bandar said. "So that’s kind of the funnel as it were, and then a fraction of those folks become members and then eventually a small fraction of those people become instructors, or what we call sponsored members."
That's what drew Lee Price, who has been a member for three years. "My initial interest with the foundry was with the 3D printers," Price said. "I took the 3D printing class and it kind of grew from there. I now use the Foundry printers as well as I have two printers at home," Price said.
Price said that many people have access to equipment, but might not know how to effectively use it. The classes open to the public allow community members to grow their understanding.
“The maker space, the community, it’s huge, because ... the community itself will breed a lot of new ideas just bumping into people," Price said.
Lee's desk lined with 3D printed objects from pop culture and more reflects the creativity and uniqueness of the space that is used for offices, metalworking and other creation-based industries.
"There are people in here doing all kinds of crazy, different things. You know, I think that sort of meshing and bumping and rubbing of shoulders is as important as whatever actual skill you learn because there’s just so many interesting things going on," Price said.
Those interested can sign up for courses at various levels and take advantage of family and youth programs at www.ideafoundry.com/classes. Learn more about the Idea Foundry at its website.
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