The Annapolis Makerspace provides the space and equipment for members to get creative.
If you are, were, or want to be a maker—someone who creates something for fun, practicality, or both—you likely know that it takes more than just some free time and intention to produce whatever your heart desires. It takes materials, tools, space and know-how, too.
Some of us are lucky enough to possess these common necessities of making (or at least have a friend or family member who does). But there’s also good news for those who don’t: makerspaces have you covered!
At the Annapolis Makerspace, a nonprofit community workshop space that offers far more than the bare necessities, people who want to work with their hands, and are interested in anything from robotics, fabrication, electronics, woodworking, metalworking, and beyond have the space and tools to work on whatever they like. As an added bonus, members can learn from each other and hang out with new friends.
In July 2017 a group of local Annapolis makers connected through meetup.com. The makers soon concluded that there were enough of them to incorporate and, through membership dues and donations, sublease a local engineering startup’s industrial space. The Annapolis Makerspace quickly grew, and in June 2018 moved into its own home, in an industrial park on General’s Highway, next to Annapolis Bowl.
The Annapolis Makerspace has a warehouse atmosphere, but it is also impeccably clean and features a tremendous amount of tools. Trevor Gryffyn, president of Annapolis Makerspace, says the cleanliness reflects the members’ “leave no trace” ethos, which formed both out of respect for each other and the tools. By keeping the makerspace tidy, all tools stay in their rightful places. Members also participate in a shop cleanup day once a month.
The number of diverse tools and equipment in the makerspace is impressive—from an industrial-grade 3D printer to high-tech precision saws and laser cutters. Gryffyn says they were acquired through donations, member “loans” and members’ ongoing attention to and pursuit of Craigslist listings (which resulted in the space’s newest piece of equipment: a decades-old but amazingly operational Epsilon Summit die-cut printer).
The tools help members with projects that run the gamut from practical to profitable. During a recent visit one member was using the 3D printer to create dozens of plastic playing pieces to replace the flimsy cardboard ones that came with her favorite board game, while one of the youngest members showed off a set of large wooden standup Peppa Pig decorations that she had cut with the CNC router and planned to rent out for kids’ birthday parties.
Some of the many other projects that members have worked on, Gryffyn says, include:
Every prop for a school play built by a member who used virtually every electric saw, from table to miter to reciprocating.
- A handmade jewelry box/Valentine’s Day gift made over the course of many late nights by an Annapolis policeman who, because he lived in a condo with a newborn and noise restrictions, had nowhere else to work.
- An extremely precise pendulum clock made entirely of wood.
- A custom wiring system to measure an antique Jensen Interceptor automobile’s air flow and temperature readings.
- A multitude of custom-cut and 3D-printed pieces to strike a robotic musical band’s xylophone and toy piano keys.
- A 3D-printed face with built-in electronics that enable it to sense and follow motion.
Not only does the makerspace provide its members with access to whatever tools and equipment they might need, it also boasts a community of makers ready to talk shop, provide advice and even give hands-on help. Members communicate in person and on Slack about their projects, including asking for help and advice.
“When we started the space, I thought the main benefit would be access to more tools and a larger workspace,” says Jack Warpinski, founder and former president of Annapolis Makerspace.
“Now I realize that the relationships and knowledge shared between members is probably where the true value of a makerspace lies.”
Beyond helping one another with individual projects, makerspace members share knowledge in a more formal form during weekly woodworking, electronics, sewing, and game night sessions, as well as during one-off or periodic member-run workshops on activities such as wood burning and etching, tie-dyeing, card-making, and even kimchi-cooking. Gryffyn stressed that in the interest of raising awareness of the space and supporting making, all activities are open to the public, including children accompanied by an adult, and that he’s even open to outside artisans using the space to host classes, including those with a fee, at no charge.
Gryffyn and other makerspace members support making and learning regardless of where it occurs. Gryffyn highlights upcoming opportunities happening in the area like archaeology events at Londontowne or STEM-focused events at various county libraries. He also shares the message about the makerspace, its members and making in general during the “Makers’ Minute” on the Eye On Annapolis News Brief each Thursday, and during the monthly Annapolis’s First Sunday Festival.
“While we want our makerspace to continue growing and to be a catalyst for great people to interact and learn and grow themselves,” Gryffyn says. “We want others to do the same so that at the end of the day, anyone who has a desire to make has a place to make.”
To learn more about Annapolis Makerspace or how to become a member, visit makeannapolis.org or stop by its monthly open house, held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at 2014 Renard Court, Unit C, in Annapolis.
Makerspaces Near You
Anne Arundel County Libraries
Chesapeake Arts Center Makerspace
Eastern Shore Makerspace
Open Works Baltimore
Patuxent Lapidary Guild
Pongos Learning Lab
Station North Tool Library