There’s a new community growing in Footscray, and anyone interested in making can be a part of it – in a number of ways. Since opening its doors in June this year, FAB9 makerspace has become a hub of creativity, skills-sharing, and learning for a diverse range of people with interests in all kinds of making. Whether they are FAB9 members, or people who want to attend a one-off class or event to learn a new skill, everyone who comes to FAB9 has the chance to use its different labs, training, machinery, software, and tools to turn design ideas into physical realities.
“It’s a great place to learn and relax,” says Scott Wallace, an IT professional, woodworking enthusiast, and FAB9 member. “It takes me away from distractions so I can focus on what I’m trying to do or learn.”
This is not just a space for master craftspeople (though the makerspace is ideal for highly experienced makers as much as anyone) – the people who run FAB9 want to encourage anyone with an interest in making to come visit the makerspace, talk to the team, and give something new a go.
“The main thing about FAB9 is that everyone is welcome,” says FAB9 Operations manager, Michelle Thomas. “We’re here to bridge the gap that stands between an idea and the creation of a physical object, and we welcome makers and designers of all disciplines and levels of ability.”
The space and the people: FAB9 is made up of five distinct labs – each designed for working with different materials and engaging in different processes. And the beauty of being at FAB9 is not just having access to a space full of impressive equipment. One of the biggest draw cards for members is having experienced technicians there at all times to provide practical assistance and encouragement, whenever it’s needed. It’s this kind of support that members like professional baker at Millet Road Bakers and hobbyist craftsperson Simon Matthee find invaluable.
“With the help of the staff, I’ve now got a list of commission requests for my first game board, and I’ve started prototyping another.”
How a FAB9 membership works: To cater for different kinds of makers with different space, equipment, and scheduling requirements, FAB9 have designed their opening hours and membership packages accordingly. Open from 10am to 5pm on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (with special extended hours of 10am to 9pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays), FAB9 offers a choice between three different membership packages – Part ($99 per month, with access to select areas within the makerspace), Full ($199 per month, with full access to the entire makerspace), or Premium ($399, with full access to the entire makerspace, as well as priority storage, priority machine reservation, and additional business services). And the good news is that each of these membership packages allow all members to come to the makerspace as often as they like every month.
“Initially, our memberships granted limited access to the makerspace” says Michelle. “But after seeing the dynamic way our existing members have been using the makerspace over the last few months, we realised that more time in the space doesn’t just mean more productivity for our members – it also means more opportunities for interaction with each other. Developing a thriving community is something we’re really passionate about, and giving our members unlimited days in the space every month is our way of committing to that.”
Getting into making: After becoming a member at FAB9, there are a number of informative and useful inductions to ensure users know exactly how to operate different pieces of equipment safely, correctly, and efficiently. From there, members can enrich their time in the makerspace by learning new skills from experienced professionals in a host of fun, thorough, and highly encouraging classes and short-courses, such as the upcoming ‘Intro to upholstery: Ottoman’, ‘Handmade: Make your own stool’, and ‘Intro to woodworking: Make your own picture frame’ (in partnership with CAE).
“We’ve had a wonderful response to our classes and courses so far, with many selling out shortly after they’re announced,” says Michelle. “I think FAB9 is really tapping into a hunger to learn, up-skill, and simply socialise in the spirit of creativity in the wider community.”
As a new makerspace, FAB9 is constantly evolving to accommodate its growing membership base. For convenience, safety, and ease, materials are now available for purchase on site, and different storage options are available so members don’t have to lug projects to and from the site between making sessions.
Encouragement, guidance, and support: In a space that is encouraging, fun, and full of possibility, members and class attendees at FAB9 don’t just get the opportunity to learn new skills – they also get the satisfaction, connection, and the self-esteem boost that comes from making something from scratch in an inclusive environment.
“We are incredibly proud that our technical team is comprised of more than seventy percent women, and that all of our team – on the ground and behind the scenes – come from a wonderfully diverse range of backgrounds and interests. It enriches the culture at FAB9, and makes it a truly inclusive, welcoming place to be for makers of all ability levels. So if you’ve ever thought about making something yourself, – come along and give it a go!”
And locals have been.
“This project is just the beginning for me,” says the Architecture City Collective graduate. I am looking forward to more builds and collaborations that will come out from this first project.”
Tours are the best way to experience the makerspace for the first time. Aside from giving you the opportunity to see their architecturally designed space and brand new machines for yourself, taking one of their guided tours means you can chat with members of the team and find out more about FAB9 in person via 8535 3060 or fab9.com.au