Uncategorized May 10, 2021 BY David Carroll

Forging Ahead

Hollie Grimaldi Flores

Watch our TechTonic TV piece with the Curious Forge here live Tuesday May 11th

The Curious Forge is a Maker Space where artists, craftspeople, entrepreneurs and, of course, the curious, share 20,000 square feet of equipment, tools, and ideas.  

The membership-based organization offers certifications in 13 different areas for participants to work – from blacksmithing to glass blowing, ceramics to welding, and a whole lot in between.  The organization got started in 2011 when Liam Ellerby called Kara Asilanis on a drive home from a “Maker Faire” held in the Bay Area, saying he felt a collaborative artist space was something they could offer to the local community. 

 Co-founder Kara Asilanis said, “We wanted to bring something to our community that is all about possibility and opportunity.  What stops a lot of people from making or creating is they don’t have the space; they don’t have the equipment; or they don’t have anyone to help them do it.  We bring that all together in The Curious Forge.”

Local experts in various fields volunteer their time to be at the facility as a resource to the members.  Asilanis said other members and volunteers are also extremely helpful.  “The biggest thing about a Maker Space is the peer-to-peer skill sharing, which we do all the time.”

She admits to being a little surprised by the amount of creativity that happens by just being in the space, “I did not anticipate the amount of inspiration that can be fostered just by people getting together and sharing what they are doing.  We sort of knew that.  We are definitely community minded and want to build community around making and that is happening, but it is just the amount of inspiration that is so easily had just by being in the space and by being next to people doing amazing things.”

Membership is $75.00 per month and begins with a basic orientation.  Certification on the equipment is required prior to use, which takes place at the facility.  Workshops are held for some of the more skilled modalities such as a six-hour workshop for welding.   

While the Curious Forge is a for profit business, it also has set up a nonprofit arm to raise funds in support of Summer Camps for Kids, art, and makers classes for youth organizations, and to offer help with vocational training in art-based industries such as woodworking, sewing and metal fabrications.

Covid-19 shuttered the facility for a few months, but the collaborative group was able to survive by selling off some equipment, with the help of a relief grant and the support of members who stuck with them throughout the past year.  In return, scholarships were made available to support others in need.

Asilanis noted of the interesting aspects to come out of the pandemic has been an increase in making from the members, “Since the shutdowns, people are much more dedicated to devoting their time to making things.  I think, just like a lot of people, everyone’s been reevaluating their lives and what is important and the members coming in now are really active.”  She concluded, “It’s such an antidote to tough times.  When you are focused, and you are creating with your hands or whatever it is.  It does something for us when we are that close to creating what matters to us.“

Now located on Bitney Springs Road, you can get involved by making an appointment to take a tour.  Hours and more information can be found on their website thecuriousforge.org.