It's craft - but not as we know it


There’s no age limit at MakeShop, the new Dublin workshop where adults and children with curious minds are letting their imaginations run riot

OUTSIDE THERE’S that hum you get in the city on a really hot day. Inside there’s a hum of a different kind, call it industrious activity crossed with intense focus and fun. This is MakeShop – where people come to make “stuff”: Everything from Bristle Bots and LED Throwies (a combination of lights and magnets) to eight-bit cross stitch (needle work and retro computer design) and clocks (here you can “clockify” anything you like). It’s craft but not as we know it in a place where you can create robots from markers and paper cups or a bird house from Gay Mitchell’s face. What’s not to like?

This newly opened collaborative workspace was created by the Science Gallery and is open to adults and children of any skill level. Here the imagination can run riot, confined only by the four walls and the ability of the facilitators who help to turn your curiosity into reality. On a smaller scale it’s like Fab Labs in the US – fully-fitted design and fabrication laboratories where the public can turn concepts into creations.

In MakeShop, a trestle table which seats eight to ten people, stands in front of a well-stocked wall on which the tools of invention hang neatly arranged: scissors and screwdrivers, Dremels (multi-tasking handheld tools) and battery packs and temptingly dangerous soldering irons and glue guns.

In this mass-produced age, when it’s often cheaper and easier to buy new things than to make or fix old ones, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time or reason to create. But the desire to make and mend is still strong, as evidenced by the steady stream of enthused visitors throughout the afternoon. An Italian family, two friends who buy some books – all curious people enticed by the funky-looking wooden 3D printer in the window.

Once inside, the staff’s enthusiasm finds them, glue guns poised, creating spinning robots from sawn-up dishwashing brushes and three-volt battery packs. Gearóid Keane one of the facilitators, who helps me make a bird house-shaped clock from a Gay Mitchell election poster, says that “The workshops last around 15 or 20 minutes so we get the kids’ full concentration. We get a wide range of ages but all really interested in what they are doing.”

While the target audience is 15- to 25-year-olds, people of all ages can attend the drop-in workshops. Adults and children sit side-by-side and there is a quiet sense of community interrupted by sudden bursts of laughter and excitement. Fionn Kidney of the Science Gallery says it’s about “Taking DIY and turning it into ‘Doing it Together’. It’s about developing a spark of discovery. We want to help young people find their interests.” Fundamentally, he says, MakeShop is about getting hands-on and creative, encouraging questioning and conversation.

Niall Hunt a 14-year-old from Sandymount in Dublin was making a badge – incorporating soldering techniques with learning about circuits by connecting LED lights to a battery. “I’ve always wanted to try soldering but never had the chance before,” says Niall, who likes the idea of a space where people can try out new things. With an interest in DIY, Niall’s dad John says that MakeShop provides access to materials he wouldn’t have at home as well as being an “ideas space”.

“I think it’s important to use our hands to take things apart, to figure out how things work and to fix things rather than constantly throwing stuff out.”

“Technology has now got to a stage where you can be creative very easily,” says Fionn Kidney. “Components are more readily available and low cost, so it makes things more accessible.” Aside from basic workshops, MakeShop also plan to run premium workshops including 3D printing, papercraft for model making and Arduino (a microcontroller platform that can be used to control everything from computers to household appliances).

English tourists Phil Eaton and Ian Patterson found MakeShop after visiting nearby Trinity College. “There’s no need to make things anymore – you can just go and buy them. But you come away from this workshop with something tangible that you’ve made, so there’s a great sense of satisfaction,” says Eaton. “I also think it’s great for kids as it gives them an interest in mechanics, electronics and finding out how things work. I feel like I’ve regressed to being a seven-year-old again. It’s nice sometimes to do that – to do things just for fun.”


MakeShop in Lincoln Place Dublin 2 is open Sunday to Friday 11am to 6pm. Saturday 10am to 6pm. Drop-in workshops cost €5. The official launch takes place this Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of August. These weekend workshops are free to celebrate the launch. See or call 01 896 4091

The free workshops this weekend include:

Paper ToysChoose from a range of templates that can be folded together and transformed into paper toys by some of the worlds best paper toy designers.

Extract your DNAAn extraction workshop where participants can isolate their own DNA strands from their saliva and take a sample home.

Drawing RobotsThese are ‘drawbots’ that can be made without any knowledge of electronics. Connect a battery pack to a weighted motor, some paper cups and magic markers and watch as the drawbots begin to draw incredible images by bouncing around on paper.

Learn to solderA 5 - 10 minute workshop that lets beginners get the hang of soldering and the more experienced refine their skills.

T-shirt tote bagsTurn an old (or new) T-shirt into an eye catching fashion accessory with this quick and easy apparel workshop.

Bristle BotsMake a homemade, dancing bristling robot in this 10 min workshop where the basic principles of the circuit are taught.

ClockifyClockify is an upcycling workshop where old bric a brac can be turned into a unique time telling device. Use everything from cardboard to old CD covers or even clockify a beloved photo.

T-shirt necklaceLearn to upcycle worn out clothes. Take a T-shirt slice it up and lace yourself a neck warmer.

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