by Genevieve Callaghan

    Ever thought you’d like to try your hand at, well, making something by hand? Taking a class at FAB9 makerspace in Footscray isn’t just a great way to learn a new skill – it can enhance your life in a number of ways. Here’s a look at three of them.

    1. It’s fun

    There’s nothing quite like the fun of crafting something from scratch, whether you’ve honed your technique over a long time, or you’ve never tried the process before. Taking a class at FAB9 means you’ll be walked through the whole process of making a beautiful piece – so you can enjoy each step knowing that your instructor will keep you on track to produce a great result. And because you don’t have to be a FAB9 member to attend a class, anyone can come along to experience the fun of working in the makerspace.

    A lot of class participants say they find the sessions very relaxing, too.

    “The best part was the state of mindfulness,” says Kylie, a local maker who has come along to two of FAB9’s classes, ‘Intro to Upholstery’ and ‘Handmade’. “The excellent tools and facilities made the learning process fluid and easy.”

    Seeing the project take shape as you apply your learning is extremely satisfying – but it’s also more than that. Recent studies have shown that getting involved in handicrafts – a form of ‘active mindfulness’ – can be a powerful way to boost your overall wellbeing.

    An investigation conducted by Occupational Therapy Australia in 2015 found that people who became involved in projects in a number of Men’s Sheds across regional Australia reported feeling decreased symptoms of depression, and increased feelings of “pride and achievement, which had an impact on their sense of self worth”. A story recently published by the Crafts Council UK, University College London reported that members of their MARCH mental health network had experienced reduced anxiety after engaging with different creative practices. “[The practices] encourage gentle movement, reduce social isolation, and lower inflammation and stress hormones such as cortisol,” says the author of the report, Dr. Daisy Fancourt. “The arts are linked with dopamine release, which encourages cognitive flexibility, and they reduce our risk of dementia.”

    It’s a topic Susan Luckman has explored in her article How craft is good for our health, published on The Conversation in July 2018. The University of South Australia’s Professor of Cultural Studies believes that craft practices can have a significantly positive impact on our lives.

    “At a time when many of us feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of the digital world, craft practices… are being looked to as something of an antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.”

    Switching off from those daily stresses and on to something uplifting, like learning a handicraft, is a fantastic way to give your mind a boost – and show yourself some well-needed TLC.

    1. It’s empowering

    In an age where so much of what we use has been made somewhere else by someone – or something – else, crafting an object by hand can be a profound act of self-empowerment.

    Before attempting FAB9’s ‘Intro to Upholstery’ class, Kylie had never tried anything like it before.

    “I had no idea what was involved, and had no experience in textiles. So I walked away with not only a product, but new skills and knowledge.”

    And because inclusivity is a value at the core of FAB9, the team there actively invite all kinds of people of all skill levels, to come along and give something new a try. One of the most common responses the team at FAB9 get from class attendees is delight at the way its facilities cater for a broad range of physical abilities, and the number of female technicians teaching classes and working in the space.

    “Christina [the facilitator of Intro to Upholstery] was patient and encouraging, and Liam [the facilitator of the Handmade class] was a wealth of knowledge,” says Kylie of her experiences. “Liam’s excellent instruction enabled me to produce two beautiful tools that are almost too good to use!”

    “We’re really keen to challenge people to learn a new skill, so it’s important to us that our technicians and class facilitators aren’t just extremely experienced, but also great communicators,” says Michelle Thomas, FAB9’s Operations Manager. “We want everyone to be able to access the satisfaction of trying something out, working to make it right, and having a beautiful final piece to show for their efforts.”

    1. It’s a great way to socialise

    Being guided by a friendly FAB9 instructor alongside others who are learning means everyone can share their making trials and triumphs as they go. For a species as social as ours, the group-cooperation-factor can be a great motivator for accomplishing a task. And while problem solving with others can be very effective way to achieve a practical outcome, the team at FAB9 are passionate about the unifying quality of working together.

    “The most important thing is that most of us want to belong to something bigger than ourselves, and share it with others,” says FAB9 CEO, Hans Chang.

    Dr. Lorien Parker, who is the founder of SciencePlay Kids, and a member of FAB9, recently spoke with Hilary Harper about the social benefits of being in the makerspace in a feature about FAB9 on the ABC’s Life Matters, Radio National. “We’ve been to a couple of networking nights here. It’s really interesting to meet people who, for me personally, I don’t think I would necessarily come across and run into, and have conversations about creating and running a business and all those kinds of things. It’s really nice to find like-minded people, but also have conversations with people who I wouldn’t normally run into at schools or at any other place.”

    “Spaces that strengthen in-person communities will become more popular in the coming years,” says Hans. “FAB9 celebrates creation by being a place where busy professionals can come together, meet new people, and discuss and debate new ideas and trends.”

    Doing a FAB9 class is a great, commitment-free way of getting to see and experience the makerspace – especially if you’re curious about becoming a member, and want to check out the facilities at FAB9.

    To see what classes are coming up next and making a booking, check out their class page at

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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