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SALT Makerspace formally opens in Syracuse

By Nicole Collins

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Michael Giannattasio, executive director of the SALT Makerspace, uses an oxy acetylene torch to slice a chain to formally declare the facility open and demonstrate the kind of work done there. (Photo by Nicole Collins).

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Inventors, tinkers, and creative types in Syracuse now have a place where they can come together to make anything from anything.

The Syracuse Arts Learning & Technology (SALT) Makerspace — an open community lab that provides equipment and space for woodworking, metalworking, and 3D design and modeling — held a grand-opening event Thursday night. More than 150 people attended the ceremony at the facility located inside the Delavan Center on West Fayette Street.

The SALT Makerspace had a soft opening in August while some of the final renovations on the space were completed.

“It’s exciting to see this is a realty I can share with the city of Syracuse, with the people I’ve met, and the people I will meet,” says Michael Giannattasio, executive director.

Instead of a typical ribbon cutting, Giannattasio used an oxy acetylene torch to cut a chain to formally declare the facility open and demonstrate the kind of work done there.

The SALT Makerspace will offer memberships, workshops, and storage-space rentals. Membership rates range from $50 for a two-day pass to $1,100 for a full-year membership.

Giannattasio says 16 people had signed up for memberships as of opening night.

A project two years in the making, the 2,300-square-foot facility is divided into a “dirty” and a “clean” workspace. The 1,600-square-foot dirty space houses the metal and wood-shop tools. Down the hall, the 700-square-foot clean space houses the computer lab and 3D prototyping and printing tools.

Upcoming workshops include woodworking skills, welding for women, and screen-printing and prototyping. Workshops will be taught by skilled technicians from Syracuse and surrounding areas.

The overall project costs upwards of $50,000, Giannattasio estimates.

The Tech Garden in Downtown Syracuse contributed $29,000 toward the effort, while another $14,000 came from private donors. Additionally, Giannattasio says he has invested more than $10,000 of his own money to fund the project.

The SALT Makerspace will eventually operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, though the paperwork is still in process, Giannattasio says. In the meantime, the neighboring Redhouse Arts Center is acting as the makerspace’s fiscal sponsor.

A California native, Giannattasio, 31, earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University Chico and master’s of fine arts degree in sculpture from Syracuse University. He has taught sculpture and industrial design courses at Syracuse University, but has put his teaching career on hold to focus on the makerspace project.

“I never saw myself in this position until I was in this position,” says Giannattasio.

The concept of a makerspace developed in the 1990s to provide space for like-minded creative people to be able to learn, create and share, according to a news release from the SALT Makerspace. Since then, more than 1,100 makerspaces have been launched worldwide.

Contact Collins at ncollins@cnybj.com

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