Makerspace will offer a place for people to tinker

Aug 21, 2014

A new workshop is getting ready to open in Syracuse. It’ll be a place, known as a "makerspace," for anyone to come and sculpt, cut, weld or print.

Michael Giannattasio is a sculptor and metal worker by trade, but he knows his way around a 3-D printer, too. There are a couple set up in what Giannattasio refers to as the "clean space" in an old Syracuse factory building.

Giannattasio’s getting ready to open Syracuse’s first makerspace in the Delavan Art Building on the city’s Near Westside. It’ll be called the SALT Makerspace, short for Syracuse Arts, Learning and Technology.

Along with the clean space, there’s what Giannattasio calls the “dirty space” for activities like welding or cutting.

Flare

Makerspaces are community-accessible workshops for nearly any kind of art or project that results in a physical product. They’re a growing trend in arts communities and more are opening in upstate New York. 

Michael Giannattasio, founder of SALT Makerspace, with a 3-D printer.
Michael Giannattasio, founder of SALT Makerspace, with a 3-D printer.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Giannattasio says he’s trying to design a workshop with its own unique feel compared to other makerspaces.

"A lot of the different communities have their own kind of style and flare to them," he said on a recent tour of the space. "There’s everything from just a room in a building that is just computers, to a place that just does robotics."

Giannattasio has been searching classified ads, taking donations and raiding stockpiles of old industrial equipment to find tools and machines to fill the space.

Makerspaces aren’t just for the artist or professional, Giannattasio said, but anyone with an interest in tinkering around.

"What this place has is the potential to be is that resource for someone who has an idea, to develop it. Whether that’s a product or an art project, they would be able to come here, learn how to do it on their own, get instruction, or collaborate with someone to develop something," he said.

That collaboration is a big part of the makerspace experience.

At a recent meetup at the space, a diverse group of people show up. Some were curious recent college grads. Others, engineers with decades of experience. They’ll likely end up being both instructors and students here.

The makerspace will offer classes on various art techniques and skills. Or users can pay a fee and come in and use the equipment.

"So that whole community really is about opening it up and connecting with one another and giving access to knowledge as well as equipment," Giannattasio said.

A recent meetup at the soon to open SALT Makerspace.
A recent meetup at the soon to open SALT Makerspace.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

"Phenomenal" feeling

Makerspaces have been popping up in communities around the country for the past decade or so. There are ones in Rochester, Binghamton and Ithaca already.

"The feeling you get when you actually make something with your own hands, is just phenomenal, said Amanda Sharpsteen, a graphic designer who is working to open a makerspace in Cortland.

It will be called The S.T.E.A.M. House.

Sharpsteen encourages younger kids to play with Legos to give them a feel of actual building, and go from there.

"Kids nowadays are learning how to do 3-D modeling in school, but unless you’re going to be a mechanical engineer or something, they’re not going to use it," she said. "But actually being able to make something with it is really great."

The makerspace in Syracuse will open in mid-September. Its success, according to Giannattasio, will be measured as people’s ideas become tangible objects.