JP Makers aims to create collaborative craft space

October 25, 2013
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JP Makers, a group started by two local residents, aims to create a shared workspace for artisans and handicrafters somewhere in Jamaica Plain.

Dominic Burdick and Eileen McMahon, who started the group this summer, call the concept a “makerspace.” Like an artists’ co-op, members would share a rented space. The difference is that it focuses on more technology-oriented crafts and trades such as 3-D printing, bike repair, metalworking and sculpting.

“Are you interested in trying to build something? Are you looking to see if you can bear fruit and be creative? This is a facility where you can do this,” said Burdick.

“The one key word we keep harkening back to is ‘community,’” said Burdick. “This enterprise will be driven by community. We’re just leading the charge.”

Besides sharing space and tools, the makerspace also would offer classes for all.

A notable example of a makerspace in the Boston area is Somerville’s Artisan Asylum. But this side of Boston doesn’t have a makerspace accessible, and the proposed center will provide those resources to Jamaica Plain and surrounding neighborhoods.

Make Magazine, founded by Dale Dougherty in 2005, is credited as the spearhead of the makerspace movement. The first Maker’s Faire, which is an event for makers to show off their work, was in San Mateo, Calif. in 2006.

Makerspaces, which are popping up all over the globe, are typically built around the local interests of the community. Burdick and McMahon said that they might expect to see more arts interested members in the Jamaica Plain community, whereas in New York the makerspaces are very technology driven.

“Currently, we’re just polling the local talent to figure out what people are interested in doing,” said Burdick.

McMahon is a professor at MIT with a background in communication technologies. Burdick has experience with startups and high-tech companies, and for the last 15 to 20 years has focused on building products for the people with vision impairments.

Last spring, McMahon and Burdick led a “Maker Camp” at JP’s Curley K-8 School, which taught kids how to make “keep out” signs for their bedroom doors.

“There’s a real strong drive in Jamaica Plain from kids and their parents who want to be familiar with engineering skills and who want to learn programming languages as well,” Burdick said.

The group has not yet found a JP location for its makerspace and is in the early organizing stages.

JP Makers has held organizing meetings in JP and Roslindale already, and has another coming up at the West Roxbury Branch Library on Nov. 9. For more information, see jpmakers.com.

Corrected version: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect first name and current job for McMahon.