First maker space in town

Chelsea Powrie

The Okanagan School of the Arts opened a new, cooperative-style maker space this week in the basement of the Shatford Centre, the first of its kind in Penticton. 

It's called Ideaforge, and it's a shared room with tools and materials that anyone can join. 

"The gist that I like to give people is that it's a shared workshop space," said organizer and founder Manda Maggs.

The spacious workshop has everything from crafting and carpentry tools to a high-tech laser cutter and a 3D printer. Maggs hopes to expand the equipment in the future to include larger industrial tools, but for now, the space is set up well for their purposes. 

"For now, we're doing a lot of arts and crafts, small scale construction projects, things that don't involve, say, a table saw, but maybe a drill press or a router or things like that," Maggs said. 

She said the program is membership-based, but there are plenty of flexible options including one-time drop-in fees at $15. Plus, volunteers who help out with programming can be eligible for discounts on their membership fee, and pairs of friends or family members who sign up together get discounts as well. 

"Because making is social, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible and as accessible as possible for people to come here together with people, and learn new things together," Maggs said. 

The program also encourages beginner makers to get involved. Some of the tools, like the 3D printer, might not be familiar to many people, but Maggs has plans to make sure they are accessible. 

"Right now I'm scheduling demonstrations every Tuesday, so every Tuesday we'll demonstrate a new material, a new tool or a new technique," Maggs said. "And the demos are free to attend. So people can learn new things just by watching." 

She said the support from the community has been overwhelming, with people donating tools, time and expertise to get the program onto its feet. All the tools and the space itself are donated, with membership and drop-in fees intended only to offset operating costs, not turn profit. 

Ideaforge is now operating Tuesday to Thursday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. except holidays. To find out how to join or get more information, drop in at the Shatford Centre during normal work hours and ask for Maggs or call her at 250 488 9839, or click here

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