Dave Dalton is a maker — a blacksmith, a bladesmith, a woodworker, an artist and a jack of all trades.
More than just a sum of his skills, being a maker is all about perspective, said Dalton, founder of Hammerspace Community Workshop. And when a friend dared him to give his tip jar an upgrade, Dalton responded in true maker fashion.
“Someone called my old, pretzel jar with a slot in it ‘ghetto fabulous,’ and I was like ‘It’s a tip jar, what else do you want it to do?’” Dalton said. “So, I decided to make Madame Fortuna — she is a fortune telling robot. If you tip her, she talks to you, waves her hands around her crystal ball, says some mystical things and then spits out a fortune for you. … There are a thousand different combinations of fortunes and 100 different things that she says. She was built out of my garage in a week, because I was challenged.”
Madame Fortuna is just one of the gadgets dreamed up, created and built at Hammerspace — a shared, community workspace for makers and inventors.
You can’t get the same inspiration from a traditional work environment, Dalton said.
“A maker definitely thrives in an environment where you can jump from skill to skill to skill,” he said. “You need metalworking, machining, sculpting, mold making, prop building electronics and programming to make Madame Fortuna, the fortune telling robot.”
Since its launch in 2011, Hammerspace has served as a community space for hundreds of Kansas Citians. Unlike coworking spaces with traditional desks and chairs, Hammerspace gives members access to lasers, 3-D printers, sewing stations, radio components, and equipment for welding, sculpting, woodworking and other art forms.
“Hammerspace is for creative people of all stripes,” Dalton said. “That’s the neat thing about a makerspace — it doesn’t really discriminate based on the pool of creativity that you come from. The synergy that develops between really different disciplines is neat to watch.”
Although the possibilities might seem endless, the most important thing the space builds is community, Dalton said.
“(Hammerspace) is a great place to go and find camaraderie and community, instead of isolating yourself at home and trying to work in a vacuum,” he said. “This is a really important thing for creatives who traditionally are sort of isolated and retreat into their studios and their basement workshops and in their garage. … They put on their blinders and just work.”
Kansas City coworking advocates tout the abundance of “serendipity” and “collision” as strong appeals to working in shared spaces. At Hammerspace, it’s no different, Dalton said.
“Leonardo da Vinci didn’t sit by himself in a studio to make all of his wonderful creations,” Dalton said. “He was surrounded by other creative people whose creativity he fed off of. … In this environment, we try and maximize the benefit of community by offering a supportive system of other creatives that can bolster the creative process.”
The maker community in Kansas City has grown tremendously through the years. Now, Hammerspace is regarded as one of the largest makerspaces in the Midwest, Dalton said.
“This is a neat time to be a creative person,” he said. “Kansas City is blessed with a really rich community of creatives. From the early days of Walt Disney’s (Laugh-O-gram) studios to now all of our wonderful local interior designers and sculptors — Hallmark is a huge magnet for creatives in the area — the space is just rich with talent. We are frequently called the Paris of the Midwest.”
Molding into a new space
In April, Hammerspace moved out of its Brookside neighborhood location, where it resided for nearly six years. The decision was partially because of neighborhood complaints, but more directly attributed to the makerspace outgrowing the 6,000-square-foot building, Dalton said.
Early this summer, Hammerspace opened its doors to its new 17,000-square-foot location, which lies on the corner of Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard and 45th Street.
“We wanted to move to something larger,” Dalton said. “We looked at 400 spaces online and 20 in person before I found this place. … I was unfamiliar with this little corner here on this part of Emanuel Cleaver, but when I first took a look at it, I was already putting in an offer. It’s really perfect for what we need. It’s a gorgeous, really neat find.”
The building boasts vast office space, open workspaces, warehousing and surrounding outdoor space.
“We love the green space,” Dalton said. “And, there’s no residential neighbors that are close, so if we want to do an event or something fun, we can do that without disrupting the neighborhood.”
The new space will increase capacity, thus the community impact, he said. To see for yourself, Hammerspace plays host to a weekly open house 6 p.m. Thursdays, when members and nonmembers alike can stop by.
“We take the open houses as a great opportunity to do community outreach and to share projects that members have been working on,” Dalton said. “You can see an old-school, tool-and-die maker collaborating with a brand-new, young woodworker fresh out of high school. Where else are you going to see that?”
To see coming classes and events — some of which are open to nonmembers — view the Hammerspace calendar here.
Check out Startland’s video on the space below and our photo gallery below that!