Create, Construct and Collaborate at MADE

It’s unusual to find a single building where welders and quilters and carpenters and product designers are all equally excited about a grand opening. Welcome to MADE, a state-of-the-art makerspace that’s part high-tech workshop, part elbow-grease workspace—with a strong sense of community throughout.

Five days a week, the 32,000-foot space hums with activity. Toward the front, you’ll find a four-color silkscreen press, a laser cutter, 3-D printers and a suite of sewing machines. That’s where Casey Gardonio-Foat York spends much of her time, quilting or sewing for her home-décor business, Casey York Designs. She’s also an instructor for courses on one of the textile area’s prized machines, the Baby Lock Coronet long-arm quilter.

MADE (an acronym for Makers, Artists, Designers, Entrepreneurs) requires members to be trained and certified before using its equipment—whether they’re hobbyists or professionals who plan to earn their living within its walls. The need for this becomes clearly apparent the deeper into the building you venture, as you walk past welders, saws, presses, grinders and computer numerical control (CNC) routers.

Those CNC routers—each about the size of a ping pong table—are high-tech cutting machines for all types of materials (wood, foam, plastic, steel, glass and more). MADE member Chad Stuemke of Crabapple Design, a product-design-and-development consultancy, is an expert in operating them. Stuemke is already certified on most of the equipment at MADE, thanks to his membership at TechShop St. Louis, a precursor makerspace that went bankrupt in November 2017.

Create, Construct and Collaborate at MADE

After that unfortunate closure left more than 500 local makers without access to the space and equipment they needed, several things happened. Doug Auer, the co-founder of Third Degree Glass Factory, and Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of Square, got together with leaders from the Cortex Innovation Community, including CEO Dennis Lower. They gave themselves a one-year timeline to open a new space—which was ambitious, considering they didn’t even own the building that would eventually become MADE. Its location on Delmar Boulevard across from Third Degree Glass is intentional, thanks to its accessibility from many neighborhoods of the city.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 15, McKelvey reflected on all the factors that came together with unexpected speed, like city permits—and on some surprises, like a serendipitous meeting that led to an exciting second phase for MADE: In the summer of 2019, The Magic House will open its first satellite location with a STEAM-based discovery center for elementary and middle school students.

Like the MADE complex below—which is open to those ages 18 and older—the upstairs will have a makerspace with printing, woodworking, robotics and sewing, along with an artist studio, design lab and entrepreneur marketplace. As McKelvey describes it, “it will be an entire world of creativity focused on the younger generation.”

This is an added bonus for parents like Stuemke, whose design company has a strong focus on toys, and who says his own children are “makers at heart.”

It will also strengthen an already strong commitment to education that the team behind MADE reinforces with each training they offer. MADE’s membership model—and the pay-by-the-hour fee structure for using the equipment—is flexible enough for hobbyists to grow their skills around their full-time jobs and practical enough for start-up businesses trying to make ends meet.

For Gardonio-Foat York, who was also a member at TechShop before it closed, having a makerspace like this, equipped with such high-end tools, is invaluable. “People who are creating can bootstrap their businesses here,” she says.

To experience MADE first hand, go online and sign a tour waiver, then visit for a guided tour Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. or Saturdays at 1 or 3 p.m., or take a self-guided tour between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

All images courtesy of Third Degree Glass Factory.

 

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