09 Oct Wendy Kiefel: Maker Spotlight!
By Kris Hurst
Wendy Kiefel has been coming to Ignite Studio since 2019. Independently, she serves as a mentor and coach to a group of makers who sell merchandise in both a virtual and retail space. The makers combine technology with traditional art skills to create unique art and products. The group uses various equipment in the studio including the Cricut, vinyl cutter, heat press, and 3-D printer. Wendy also uses the studio for personal work, including using the laser engraver to make leather jewelry. She took some time to answer our questions below.
When did you first become interested in making things?
I’ve been interested in making things since childhood. I was born in the ’60s and grew up in a community where it was common for women to make things.
Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
My training consists of a couple of short courses lasting a few weeks. I like tinkering around on my own too.
What are your favorite types of things to make?
I like making projects that are quick to finish, and at the same time I like embellishment and complexity. One of my favourite personal projects was to make leather jewelry on the laser engraver. I also love helping young people develop their own creative ideas into products that they can sell.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love plants, flowers, and patterns. I grew up in Australia, so Australian flora, fauna, and landscapes inspire me too.
How long has it taken you to feel confident in your making abilities?
I’m still not confident! I’m always finding something I could improve. So, I guess it has taken a long time.
When did you decide to turn “making” into a business?
In 2019 I got to know a group of young people who liked making things. We met every week at the Ignite Studio. It started as an informal social and creative meetup. My “guys” were offered a wonderful retail space for the products they made, and I took on the role of coach and mentor. The business was born from there.
What is the business side of art making like?
Turning art into business presents some interesting creative challenges. Because it’s a business, the goal is for the maker to produce marketable work profitably while staying true to their creative vision.
What drew you to the Ignite Studio?
The first time I visited Ignite Studio I was blown away! It’s an Aladdin’s Cave for people who like to make things in terms of equipment and knowledgeable, supportive staff.
How easy or hard was it to learn the equipment you use in Ignite?
The two main items I use are the laser engraver and vinyl cutter. It was easy to learn this equipment, although I found the vinyl cutter more challenging than the laser engraver. The certification training run by Ignite was a great way to get started quickly for both the laser engraver and vinyl cutter. The laser engraver uses free software, RD Works, and there are a great many Youtube tutorials to help when you get stuck. So, designing for the laser engraver from home is relatively easy. I purchased the same software for the vinyl cutter as used by Ignite, VinylMaster Cut, so that I could design at home. It was a little tougher for me to learn that software. Luckily the staff at Ignite are very approachable and knowledgeable which makes it easy to troubleshoot problems on any equipment.
Any advice for those interesting in making things?
Visit the Ignite Studio and try something new!
If you’re ready to get certified on Ignite’s Fab Lab equipment like Wendy Kiefel, you can get started on Niche Academy! Follow the links for the laser engraver, the vinyl cutter, and 3D printer certification courses.