“Invention; innovation; co-operation.”
The Kwartzlab Makerspace is a familiar sight for anyone who frequently visits downtown Kitchener. The building seems small, homely and uninteresting at first glance – but take a step inside and you’ll find yourself in a wondrous world of intriguing inventions, charming crafts and fascinating feats of flair. The walls are decorated from floor to ceiling with gadgets, gizmos, interesting timepieces, posters and the artistic creations of Kwartzlab members.
Kwartzlab, founded in 2009, is a place where creative minds can get together and make things. Simple things, like a painting, T-shirt or vase; or more complex things like a laser-printed sculpture, a computer program or a robot.
“Anything to do with making things, we happily support,” said Darcy Casselman, chair of the board at Kwartzlab. “We want more people to have access to the tools to create what they want – what their minds can put together.”
He said Kwartzlab and its members openly support do-it-yourself projects and open source hardware and software.
Kwartzlab isn’t just a place to make – it’s a place to learn. Events hosted by Kwartzlab members are held regularly at the lab itself or at other locations in Kitchener, and visitors are always welcome to stop by, learn and create. Some recent events included a Repair Cafe, where visitors brought their broken or malfunctioning belongings to be fixed; Family Hack Jam, where kids could bring their old T-shirts and put their own designs on them or turn them into stuffed animals; and a Bob Ross paint-along, where oil painter Katherine Marchione taught a class how to make the renowned painter’s “happy little trees.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Kwartzlab’s program director Agnes Niewiadomski. “Most of the people who showed up weren’t painters, but they all left as painters.”
Events like these are held often at Kwartzlab, and every week there are repeating events for the public and members alike. Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. is “Tuesday Open Night,” where anyone can bring in anything they’re working on and use the lab’s variety of tools and resources. Sundays at 7 p.m. is BYOC (Bring Your Own Craft) Night – stop by, socialize, have a cup of tea and work on crafts.
Every once in a while, an especially quirky and fun event takes place at the lab – tomorrow they’ll celebrate “Blogging Day,” where a presentation will be given about how to create blogs; and on Friday, it’s “Pi Day Party” – 3/14 – where there will be free pies, pie-based competitions and pie decorating in honour of “Pi Day.”
“The lab has been extremely helpful in making projects – both for fun and work,” said Catherine Holloway, a Kwartzlab member and grad student who uses the lab for schoolwork. “It’s nice to have access to these resources.”
Kwartzlab has resources in abundance – any tool you can imagine for any project is available. Building tools, wood, metal, glass, supplies for soldering and wiring, laser cutters and printers. Anyone who loves to work with their hands will find a home at the Kwartzlab.
“It’s a great community space,” said Michael Druker, who was hosting Open Data Day at the lab. The day was organized to bring together software developers to share ideas and work on apps.
The creative, the clever, the quirky and the curious are all welcomed with open arms and friendly smiles. If you count yourself among them, be sure to check out their website – www.kwartzlab.ca – to see upcoming events, or just drop by the lab and introduce yourself.