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Knox Makers Sets Up New Shop in South Knoxville 
Knox Makers, welcome to new South Knoxville location!

Issac Merkle sighs with satisfaction as he looks around the vast new 3,265-square-foot workshop.

“As a child, I always dreamed of getting my hands on a place like this,” says Merkle, Creative Director for the nonprofit Knox Makers, the local heart and soul of the booming Makers Movement.

After four years in Oak Ridge, Knox Makers has relocated to South Knoxville. The local Makers share space with the East Technology Access Center at 116 Childress St. SW.

What, and who, are Knox Makers?

Knox Makers promotes mad science and creativity through presentations, hands-on workshops and group projects. The new workshop is a "hackerspace" - a place for hackers, makers, crafters, artists and engineers to play, work, teach, learn, and socialize.

The Makers Movement is a convergence of independent inventors, designers and open-minded tinkerers who embrace sharing ideas and powerful technology. Makers teach and learn different trades, and their workshops allow access to materials and equipment that would otherwise be too difficult for individuals to access. For many members, time with fellow makers is like therapy.

Merkle - whose day job is at the Community Law Office, where he's the Director of Information Technology - is passionate about these notions of sharing and access.

Knox Makers supplies its members with access to software, technology, metalworking, electronics, and a variety of less traditional hacker space functions. Members are encouraged to take whatever materials they need and donate any unused supplies.

There are frequent group projects. Members decide what projects they want to tackle, and the collaboration flows naturally. The laser cutter, 3D printer and a large electronic Makers sign all were the products of group projects.

So was the strange animatronic monkey receptionist.

Merkle laughs and says, “I can’t wait to get our receptionist up and running to scare people.” ​

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m., Knox Makers will host a "Show and Share," where members and non-members are welcome to gather and collaborate on ideas, as well as engage in fun and informative classes and workshops. The workshops extend beyond technical topics; for example, there might be sessions on fabric arts and leather working. Some past workshops included sewing, glass bead making, and block printing.

It isn't coincidental that Knox Makers has set up shop alongside the East Tennessee Technology Access Center (ETTAC), another non-profit. ETTAC's mission is to connect people with disabilities in East Tennessee to the adaptive technology tools and services they need to live, work and play with independence and dignity.

One of ETTAC's Christmas programs: It collects electronic toys, and volunteers rewire and modify them so that disabled children can play with them.

That's right in the wheelhouse for Knox Makers. Several members previously have volunteered with ETTAC, and now, the two groups are under one roof.

“I am beyond thrilled to work with them and cannot wait for our future collaborations,” says Mary Thom Adams, ETTAC's Executive Director.

Knox Makers hasn't set an official opening date for the new facility, but Merkle hopes to be fully open by September.

New members are welcome. The minimum age requirement for membership is 16, with required parental permission for anyone under 18. The standard membership fee is $50 per month, or $20 per month for students and seniors. Members will have 24-hour access to the Childress Street workshop and its equipment.

To learn more, visit https://www.knoxmakers.org.

-Communications intern Morgan Herrig

Knox Makers is now located on Childress Street in South Knoxville.

Knox Makers is now located on Childress Street in South Knoxville.

Issac Merkle, Creative Director for Knox Makers, says the goal is to provide a space for members to engage and learn with tools and materials they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Issac Merkle, Creative Director for Knox Makers, says the goal is to provide a space where members can learn with tools and materials that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to use. Welcome, Makers, to 116 Childress St. in South Knoxville!

Posted by evreeland On 30 June, 2016 at 3:52 PM