On the Make

exploring Menomonie’s new ‘maker space’

Hope Greene, photos by Tim Mather

Last November’s grand opening at The Hundredth Monkey Maker Space featured a myriad of hands-on projects, including activities for crafty kids.
Last November’s grand opening at The Hundredth Monkey Maker Space featured a myriad of hands-on projects, including activities for crafty kids.

Maker spaces are popping open all over the world and there’s now one blossoming in our own backyard, The Hundredth Monkey Maker Space in Menomonie. A maker space is a place designed for making things, meeting people, and sharing ideas – an open workshop of sorts. Some maker spaces are focused solely on science and technology, some on arts and crafts. The Hundredth Monkey embraces it all, but is particularly focused on space. Artists, need to work on a project too large for your studio? There’s space here. Crafters, want to start an epic Christmas present binge? There’s space here. Need to make costumes for the school play? Space. Want to teach tuba classes? Space. Need somewhere to build 20 robotic wedding centerpieces? Oh, you betcha there’s space.

Stepping into the storefront in downtown Menomonie, The Hundredth Monkey envelops you with energetic color and a sense of jaunty possibility. It consists of a large open space divided into a consignment shop/gallery in front and maker space behind with an enclosed room in the back set up as a music studio. Rebecca Schon Kilde, a woman of extraordinary enthusiasm for making and a great optimism for its benefits to the world, opened the place last November. Kilde had a need for her own studio space, but felt a very strong pull to share her love of making by creating something larger. Noticing a recent upsurge in new cultural and business developments downtown, she was inspired to join in: “I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if Menomonie were as cool as I wanted it to be?’ And the only way to really do that is to put the cool that you want there.” She’s a big fan of the DIY and hacker phenomenon, talking excitedly about ingenious low-cost tech tools that solve major problems for people in practically the same breath as describing her large geometric sculpture made of folded paper plates. She says, “Maker spaces are brilliant! I think it’s a wonderful movement it gets people out from behind their screen of, ‘Oh. I can’t do that’ to ‘Oh! I’ll try to do that.’ And it gets people involved in that process of life rather than just (being) consumers or observers.”

“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if Menomonie were as cool
as I wanted it to be?’ And the only way to really do that is to put
the cool that you want there.”
– Hundredth Monkey Maker Space owner Rebecca Schon Kilde

What really makes a maker space is the people who gather at it. Kilde’s hope is that people of different generations and areas of interest would cross pollinate in the space and improve each other’s ideas, inventions, and expressions. There is a lot here to learn from. From an Arduino group to a comic collective to workshops on diverse topics like solar cockroach construction, garden tool refurbishing, and encaustic art collage, the workshop space is pleasantly fringed with half-made objects and ideas. The music studio hosts lessons which spill out into the whole space for recitals and performances. In the front of the room monthly art exhibits and a consignment shop showcase finished pieces, and the shop also offers supplies for making. Kilde has plans to put in a woodworking shop and is doing the prep work to start a Curiosity Hacked (formerly Hacker Scouts) group in the fall. She is actively looking for artists to show work and people who want to run workshops or teach classes in the space. “I’d love to have all ages working and learning together in the space at the same time across tech, music, and art,” she says. “I would love to see what came out of that.”

Part workshop, part gallery, part incubator for optimism, the maker space offers a place where very different ingredients can come together in surprising ways to make something not just invigorating, but truly new. Kilde says happily, “So far its been enormously fun. People have started to hear about it, and I’m just excited to see where its going to go!"

The Hundredth Monkey Maker Space • 129 E. Main St., Menomonie •  hundredthmonkeymakerspace.com • (715) 410-3891

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.