Idea Studio grand opening July 23

Ever wanted to record your own music? Decorate a scrapbook? Print in 3-D? Maybe engrave a plaque? You can do all this and more, for free, at the Fond du Lac Public Library’s new Idea Studio.

The Idea Studio is a makerspace, the latest in a national trend seen at schools, libraries and community centers. Put simply, makerspaces are do-it-yourself zones with tools and equipment for public use, a space to gather, create, invent and learn. The Idea Studio is free and open to all.

It’s been in the works for more than two years, starting with the spark of an idea that’s been massaged and shaped by a community council. Plans were finalized last fall and construction began this winter. At last, the Idea Studio will open its doors for a grand opening Saturday July 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located in the library’s lower level where the used bookstore had resided, the Idea Studio has work tables, a projector and screen, a demonstration kitchen, digital recording studio and a long list of equipment (see sidebar).

The July 23 grand opening will include free techie logo gear (while supplies last), tours of the studio, equipment trials, class registrations and chances to win 3-D portraits.

“We are thrilled and proud, and can’t wait to open the doors,” said library Director Jon Mark Bolthouse. “We hope the people of Fond du Lac find this space as much fun to use as it’s been to create. It has the potential to blossom into a valuable resource for so many.

“I give great credit to the advisory council, which has provided guidance every step of the way,” Bolthouse said.

“This is a huge boon for our city,” said Mel Kolstad, library board president and charter Idea Studio Advisory Council member. “Incubators and makerspaces allow patrons to use equipment they most likely don't have at home. The Idea Studio provides an invaluable resource that's limited only by our imaginations.”

Funding to create the Idea Studio came from private donations and grants from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Library Services and Technology Act.

While use of the Idea Studio equipment is free, there are some fees for materials. For example, hardware for the button maker costs 25 cents per button. The space is open to all, but children under age 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Most of the equipment in the Idea Studio will require users to first pass a “badging” test. Earning a badge in, say, the 3-D printer, means the user has undergone training and has shown proficiency in its safe use. Once a person is badged, she can use that piece of equipment any time the Idea Studio is open. Idea Studio staff will keep badging credentials on file. Badging lessons will be conducted regularly, with registrations handled through the Calendar at

Starting July 25, the Idea Studio will be open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. On off Saturdays, programs such Crafternoons will be held in the studio.

At all times, an Idea Studio staff person will be on hand to help users access the equipment, troubleshoot projects and, in some cases, provide drop-in training. The library is taking applications for Idea Studio volunteers, with a keen eye out for persons with specific technical skills. Eventually, the Idea Studio hopes to attract Makers-in-Residence. These people will bring a high-level skillset and use the Idea Studio as their working space for a given time, in a program similar to an artist in residence.

More information is available at and on the studio’s Facebook and Instagram pages.


(as of 6/27/2016)

Patrons ages 13 and up can use the Idea Studio equipment for free (some require supplies charges). Users of most equipment will have to be “badged,” or officially trained, beforehand. New equipment will be added on a regular basis.

  • 2 Makerbot Replicator 3-D printers
  • Carvey CNC machine
  • Laser cutter
  • Recording and production studio
  • Serger
  • 2 sewing machines
  • 2¼-inch button maker
  • Comb-binding machine
  • littleBits electronic blocks
  • Silhouette cutter 

3-D portrait photo: People who attend the July 23 grand opening of the Idea Studio can enter to win their likeness made into a 3-D statue, a process that goes from scanning, to download, to 3-D print. After a short sitting, each portrait takes several hours to print.

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