Maker Spotlight: Ryan Bell

Maker News
Maker Spotlight: Ryan Bell

Home: Kansas City, MO

Day Job: Maker Specialist, The Maker Studio @ Science City

Makerspace: The Maker Studio and Hammerspace Workshop in Kansas City

How did you get started in making?

I have been making since I was little. I started with the most important woodworking job: holding and snapping the chalk line for my dad in the shop. Soon I graduated to holding the lumber as he cut it until I was old enough to use the saws myself.  My mom trained me in fine arts; teaching me how to draw and sculpt. I made things all the time to keep myself occupied; like making characters out of office supplies, paper, and tape. My family always hacked, fixed, and made things, so I got used to learning new skills depending on the project that needed to be done.


What type of maker would you classify yourself as?

I’ve never really settled on a single process or medium. I like experimenting too much.  I enjoy mixing high tech/new processes and low tech/traditional making  like cardboard + circuits or sewing + 3d printing, or trying things that are totally out of the ordinary like stitching together orange peels to make sculptures. I do a lot of tinkering at work too, coming up with fun new ways of engaging and teaching young makers.  I suppose I’d just call myself an experimental maker.

What’s your favorite thing you have made?

I like to create things that have some whimsy to them and often end up falling in love with my little characters. I’ve been making more wearables lately which is always fun. My favorite of those has been my Stormfly (dragon) cosplay that I paired with my daughter’s Astrid (Viking) cosplay.

I made the bulk of it out of cardboard, but it’s pretty polished and detailed so the material surprises people. I paired the cardboard with 3D printed parts for the horns and teeth. It was fun figuring out how to marry the two materials. The best part was wearing it out and about and pretending I was a dragon.

Any advice for people reading this?

Try new things. Even if you don’t have any prior experience, try it anyways. And if you get stuck, ask around for advice. A lot of people don’t realize how broad their networks of fellow makers are, but there’s always a friend of a friend who has made something similar and is willing to help out.

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Beck Dalton

Co-owner and events coordinator at Hammerspace Workshop in Kansas City, MO.

The most rewarding part of owning and operating a makerspace is watching and assisting in the creative process of people of all ages and talents as they turn their ideas into reality using the tools in our workshop. I believe that everyone has maker potential, and I love being able to provide a community space that has everything they need to achieve their creative goals.

View more articles by Beck Dalton


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