I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
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Do you consider yourself a creative person? I do, and walking through the front door of Fresno Ideaworks just blew me away.
It is quite a bit like entering a foreign and potentially magical land, filled with contraptions galore. I kept thinking of the scene in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, when the children and their families are finally allowed in and they see the chocolate waterfall and edible landscape. (Spoiler alert- no Oompa Loompas!)
There are areas set up for woodworking, glass blowing, 3D printing, ceramics, fiber arts, and there’s even a makeshift blacksmith’s forge in the back corner.
If you want to manipulate any kind of material, they seem to have the means to do it. At any given time, there are people working on anything and everything from spinning yarn to fixing bikes to blowing glass to building robots.
Scott Kramer is the president, aka ringmaster of this circus. He seems indefatigable and talks a mile a minute, which is probably necessary, as there’s a lot to see. This is a huge space jammed full and we have a lot of ground to cover- and this is after all, his baby we’re talking about.
Scott took a trip up to Maker Faire in 2012 with a notion about buying a 3D printer, asked a few questions, made some connections, and it ballooned from there into a devoted Maker’s Space in Downtown Fresno.
Scott is quick to attribute much of the phenomenon to serendipity and a willingness to collaborate.
We discuss how great it is to have a place where skills immediately benefit and build on each other- for example, the ability to fix a broken spinning wheel in the wood working area, or use the metal working equipment to create new tools for other crafts.
His enthusiasm is infectious as he guides me around electrical cords and the occasional open flame, and affectionately pats what looks to me like a pile of metal. It turns out to be a water jet cutter which can cut through 6 inch thick steel.
If you’ve gotten this far, you may be thinking that you need to see what this place is all about.
Essentially, a membership to Fresno Ideaworks functions much like a gym membership does. (Except I’d actually be excited to go!) Membership fees are $40 per month, family add-ons are $20 each. There is a 50% discount for students, active military, veterans, and reserves, students, and seniors (60+).
If you want a preview, there are also plenty of community events. Fresno Ideaworks has hosted Mini Maker Fairs in the past, and recently had an exhibit at the Big Fresno Fair.
There are also themed “open house” events that are free for the public to attend on a weekly basis- “Sawdust Sundays” feature woodworking from 10-1, followed by “Weekend Wearables” where they focus on sewing and cosplay creative basics from 12-3. If you’re looking for a little more variety, you can also check out Metal Mondays, Tech Tuesdays, Wooly Wednesdays, or 3D Thursdays.
There are also ongoing classes, if that’s more your style. (Learning to make blown glass pumpkins? Happening in November.) For a current event schedule, or more information, you can check out their website at fresnoideaworks.org