One of the most exciting parts of this year's GeekCraft Expo Midwest is our partnership with Madison's The Bodgery, a community workshop where people gather together to make, build, hack, create, and repair things!
Not only will members of The Bodgery be at GCE Midwest to run demonstrations on everything from how to make your own cosplay props to how to build your own CNC machine, but we'll be throwing the GeekCraft Expo Midwest Kick-Off Party at The Bodgery March 24! What will you see there? We interviewed co-founder Karen Corbeill and President/Treasurer John Eich to get an idea of the amazing things you can do there!
GeekCraft Expo: How and why did The Bodgery get its start?
Karen Corbeill: While there was already a space in Madison that offered access to tools, there was something missing for each of our founding members. The Bodgery was created as an affordable alternative that not only provided access to tools, but created a welcoming and accepting community with an extremely low barrier for entry.
John Eich: A few of us had experienced makerspaces in other parts of the country, and missed certain aspects--one being an active community of guests that could be social in the space and do basic making projects with others. Looking at the size of Madison, we thought there was room for another flavor in town. And there was--both spaces are flourishing!
GCE: What does The Bodgery offer Madison?
KC: The Bodgery features a woodshop, machining area, welding and forging, an electronics lab, a craft area featuring many machines to work with fabric or yarn, a laser cutter, and various other CNC machines. Most importantly, we provide community. We are founded on creating an easy access, welcoming environment that accepts anyone, from total newbs to seasoned craftsmen, and those from all walks of life. We aim to make access to tools and learning to use them easy and affordable.
GCE: What are some of the things members can do there?
KC: While guests may use the shop whenever a member hosts, which is at least two days a week, members get 24/7 access to the shop and may bring any guests they choose. They may use the space to host classes, workshops, or gatherings. Members get a storage area so they may keep tools and materials in the shop, and are also permitted to leave works in progress out if need be. One of the best member perks is access to our members-only, red tag tools which include the laser cutter, vinyl cutter, 3D printers, MIG and TIG welders, wood and metal lathes, and more.
GCE: Do you have to be a member to take part?
KC: No. Guests are welcome to use the shop whenever a member is willing to host them. There are regular open shop nights on Monday (Craft Night) and Friday evenings to accommodate most requests. We also have regular meet ups and classes posted on our calendar and Meetup.com. If anyone would like access to the shop at a different time, a member is frequently willing and available to host them. Membership does provide the convenience of 24/7 access.
GCE: How does one become a member?
KC: Anyone may attend one of our open shop nights, Monday and Friday evenings, or email email@example.com to set up a different time to join. There is no application process, as we operate on the honor system and want to be accessible as possible. Members must be 18 or older, but there are ways for minors to be "junior members" with the participation of a parent or guardian. Orientation takes 45 minutes, plus or minus.
GCE: What are some of the things people will see at The Bodgery during the GeekCraft Expo Midwest Kick-Off party?
KC: While Friday nights are typically our Open Shop nights where the shop is bustling with members and guests working on projects in every area of the shop, for safety reasons, we will have the woodshop and metalshops shut down. Guests can still see a tour of the shop and some of our safer machines will be running, such as the laser cutter and 3D printer, as well as folks working in the electronics lab and craft area. There will also be member projects around the shop to give guests an idea of what can be made at The Bodgery.
GCE: Will people be able to try out the equipment?
KC: At the party we may do demos of some of the machines, but some are too dangerous to show with large crowds and at an event serving alcohol. Safety first! However, our tool permissions system is set to allow non-members to have access to as many tools as is safe and affordable.
GCE: What is your favorite thing about being part of The Bodgery?
KC: The people. There are so many great people that come through our doors, members and guests alike. Everyone brings something different, unique experiences and skills. It's a great melting pot of interests and passion. And making brings also all together.
JE: I love how project ideas walk in the door, and after a few conversations with others in the space, often get taken up a notch or two. Whether it's problem solving, refining the build, or adding new layers, after a soak in the creative energies of the makerspace, projects often go through a few virtual iterations before they even get started! It's like hanging out in an artists' collective, where you often feel more energized and inspired.
GCE: What are your goals for the organization for the future?
KC: Growing our community is most important. We want to provide opportunities to anyone that is interested in making. We would love for everyone in the greater Madison area to know that we are here for them.
Beyond that, expanding the space! The tools and resources we offer will always be growing. I would love to have bigger and better versions of all of our tools, as well as adding in other areas such as glass blowing, sheet metal forming, powder coating, ceramics, a bike shop, and more.
JE: That the space and tools continue to grow to meet the needs of our expanding community of makers. I too would like to see new areas appear--ceramics, glass, and jewelry-making, bike and auto repair, a dedicated screen-printing area, and a ventilated paint booth. Plus a decent classroom for workshops and some micro-workshop rental spaces for people that want to work on larger projects without moving things every time.
Our thanks to Karen and John for the fantastic interview, but don't just take their word for it--RSVP for our GeekCraft Expo Midwest Kick-Off Party March 24 to enjoy an evening of community, free beer and snacks, and prizes from Geeks Mania Arcade, The Game Crafter, Artist & Craftsman Supply, and many of our fantastic exhibitors!