The Rutherford Report: Club Aims to Spark Members’ Creativity

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“You can't wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.”

—Jack London
Club Aims to Spark Members’ Creativity

In a small warehouse space in Upland, people are making stuff. Lots of stuff—plastic Batman Buddhas, super hero masks, Christmas tree decorations, jewelry, dog tags and tons more.

Rob Perhamus, who started UMakers late last year, envisions even grander things emerging from the nonprofit community club that he bills as a shared space for local artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and dreamers.

“This is a Fab Lab, not a shop class,” he said.

The term “Fab Lab” was coined by the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 2000s when it launched a campaign to promote digital fabrication. Today there are Fab Labs in more than 30 countries around the globe.

Perhamus wants his club to serve as a hub for creative thinkers and an incubator for new businesses. He pictures members designing advanced prosthetic limbs and inventing gadgets that haven’t even been thought of yet.

“How do you teach and train people to do the new thing when you don’t know the future?” he mused one day while talking to staff members from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Office about digital fabrication.

Located in College Business Park on the border of Upland and Claremont, UMakers is outfitted with multiple 3-D printers, a laser cutter, computer-assisted router, and a cache of other helpful tools, including a belt sander, electrical circuitry and an antique sewing machine. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but Rob asks members to call ahead just in case.

Most of the action takes place on week nights and weekends when the club hosts classes where members and guests can learn how to use the club’s high-tech tools.

Ivanna Chavez, 21, of Rancho Cucamonga discovered UMakers on the website, which helps like-minded people connect. She’s using her skills to create dog tags to sell through her dog-walking business, Dogma.

Rob offers paid memberships to the club, rents out space to members, and sells materials to keep the club open, and he freely admits to scouring trash bins for ceramic tiles, wood, and other material he and his fellow members can reuse at the club.

“When you have a nonprofit start up, that’s what you do,” he said.

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