Tucked on a side street in Lancaster City's east end, the make717 makerspace is an exciting hive of creativity and experimentation.
CAD and design equipment and software, multiple 3D printing systems, 3D carving, laser cutting, machine and woodworking tools, open-source art robots... a workshop wonderland.
And now it's open for PCA&D students, faculty, and staff for free.
Two "makerPasses" now can be checked out from PCA&D's library by students, alumni or faculty. Attend a required tour event and orientation, and you can become a social member, using your pass during primetime member hours for up to two weeks at a time.
"The 3D printers and laser cutter get the most attention because they tie right into curriculum in several departments and are hot topics even outside a school of art and design," says Jeremy Waak, Chair of Foundation. Waak, and Natalie Lascek of Continuing Education, have been instrumental in setting up the PCA&D/make717 partnership. "But make717 is so much more than that. They have a full metalworking workshop: Lathes, mills, saws. They have soft-goods machines as well: industrial sewing machines; a computer-controlled embroidering machine.
"These could be useful to any number of students," Waak says. "It's hard to tell who might grab on to something there and blow us away with what they make."
Here's how the partnership works:
Any member of the Lancaster community who wants to use make717's equipment and take advantage of its communal knowledge must attend a 90-minute information session and orientation tour -- and that goes for members of the College community, too. The PCA&D community can sign up for one such orientation (on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 5 pm) during the Nov. 14 Lancaster Art Family meetup hosted by PCA&D. If that orientation date fills or is not convenient, members of the College community can sign up for an orientation tour that works for them directly through make717's website: make717.org/events.
Once you've fulfilled that requirement, you can check out one of the PCA&D library's makerPasses and jump-start your new creative outlet. Check out posters around campus for more details.
(If PCA&D's two makerPasses already are signed out, register for a library card at any local library. This will allow you to borrow one of the makerPasses available to the greater Lancaster community, just like you were borrowing a library book).
The inspiration of partnership
Besides unleashing the PCA&D community's creativity in a new setting, says Continuing Education's Natalie Lascek, the make717 partnership itself can be inspirational.
"We all bring different skill sets and experiences with us," Lascek says. "Partnership, in itself, expands the range of possibililities that can come from working and thinking together ... make717 has a different set of creative brains and tools we don't always have access to. We have great brains too! And we have resources to share with them,
One of the immediate benefits, Lascek says, is expanding the resources PCA&D faculty have to work with in both practice and teaching.
To aid that goal, two cohorts of College faculty members will undergo private faculty development orientation and equipment training, practicing on the machines and envisioning how they can be used as part of future courses at the College. Becky Blosser (Fine Arts), Troy Holleman (Photography), Johan Klingler (Digital Media), Laura Korzon (Illustration), and Megan Zettlemoyer (Graphic Design) undergo training this fall; another five faculty will go through the same orientation during spring semester.
"We thought providing time, support, and space to cohorts of faculty would be a great way to start to light the fire of possibilities in their minds," Lascek says.
Zettlemoyer, Adjunct Professor in the Graphic Design department and part of that fall faculty group, is eager to see how access to make717 can expand her own knowledge as well as that of her students.
She's not familiar with most of make717's equipment, she says, "beyond knowledge of their existence. I am teaching a letterpress elective next semester and would like to play around with the idea of making plates to print from using the 3D printed objects as well as laser-cut materials... This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for me to print with in my personal practice as well."
That eager brainstorming, says Waak, is one of the partnership outcomes he's keen to see evolve.
"Our goal is to create a partnership that benefits the school and our students by giving them access to facilities that can strengthen their ability to make things," Waak says. "make717 offers a wide range of tools and equipment beyond what we have here ... for the faculty, the partnership is just beginning. In the near future we envision taking classes of students to make717 and have them use the space during class."