Makers

Left to right: Administrator Deborah “Sugar” Chuck, board member Bryce Dow-Williamson, founder Dana Woodman, board member Jim Wheaton, scholarship member Cyrus Cuenca, welder Mike Solari in back and dog Jib in front.

Photo by Devin Marshall

Situated across the street from Guyaki is Chimera Arts, a membership-based makerspace where any aspiring inventor or tinkerer can find and work with like-minded makers.

Initially, Chimera operated out of a 700-square-foot portable building, but has since migrated into the building next door, upgrading to 4,000 square footage of space outside and 3,000 inside. The volunteer-run community of makers celebrated its open house April 1, and many locals came out to mingle, network and check out the new building.

“It’s primarily a community, a place where people can share, learn from each other, teach each other, collaborate on projects and get access to tools and equipment,” said founder Dana Woodman. As an art major in college, he wanted to create a space where he could make projects without getting paint all over his apartment. Woodman created a Facebook group and within a week, had over 800 members with people supportive of the concept.

“I started talking to some friends just casually about the idea of getting a shared shop. It kind of went from a couple buddies getting a shop to 'Oh, this is a lot bigger than we anticipated,’” Woodman said.

Since Chimera’s first incarnation in early 2012, they have amassed quite the tool collection – members can utilize cutting-edge technology including 3D printers, CNC mills and laser cutters. There’s also a jewelry studio, metal shop, electronics lab, tools for fabrication and an open space area to work on projects, along with comforts like a reading area and a kitchenette. The collective will start offering mandatory trainings for tools to ensure safety.

Bryce Dow-Williamson is a board member for Chimera, which is volunteer based and all with different areas of expertise.

“We have a really great board of people that understand nonprofits, that understand the Sonoma County community, and that can kind of do all the background business stuff that's important to make this kind of thing work,” he said.

Board member Jim Wheaton has been working with the City of Sebastopol to make sure the space is safe and up-to-code. Wheaton is also a musician and enjoys making electronic instruments. He said he is looking forward to learning the 3D printing for his current project of a MIDI or electric harmonica.

Shop manager Deborah “Sugar” Chuck, a silversmith, oversees the jewelry-making area.

“The resources that you get for membership fees was one of those things that was inspiring to me,” Chuck said. “It helps (both) artists who can make lots of money and don’t make lots of money be able to make their art here.”

There are also scholarship members, young people from the community who show a great deal of talent and promise.  Cyrus Cuenca, 16, is one such member who specializes in robotics and says his favorite aspects are problem-solving and programming.

“I come here and work on my projects. I think it just helps facilitate learning and helps kids do what they want,” Cuenca said.

Open house attendee Rebecca Busato is a past representative of Chimera Arts, and became involved because she wanted to learn how to weld.

“There’s a lot of artists looking for space, community and I think that one of the biggest draws for people is collaboration,” Busato said. “That’s really what makes it so awesome to come down here because you’re always meeting different kinds of artists or different kinds of makers that are working with different mediums.”

Adrian DuMay is one of the newest members and decided to join the night of the open house with the hopes of collaborating and meeting someone with similar interests.

“Maybe I can find somebody that's interested in the same thing as I am and then we could make a project together, or help somebody out who’s having a problem, brainstorming and bouncing an idea off of each other,” DuMay said.

Membership fees range $25-$125 per month, ranging from two days per month of access to unlimited use. All allow keycard access from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. The grand opening of Chimera Arts takes place April 23 at 6791 Sebastopol Ave. For more information, visit www.chimeraarts.org or www.meetup.com/Chimera-Arts-Maker-Space.

(1) comment

markgrogan

I was thinking about a makers' space a while back but you have to have such an array of tools and equipment in storage. Not to mention you'll need to have a good insurance solution for the kind of things that could go wrong when beginners want to use all those heavy machinery...

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