"The exhilarating feeling of getting something right in the end"

Hello world,

I'm Chris Betten, art director by trade and maker at heart, with a passion for paper art. A little over a year ago I moved to Vancouver from my native Oslo, Norway to breathe some new air and walk down some new streets. It was a great decision, but an unfortunate side effect of it was that I moved away from all of my tools, and my apartment where I had a tiny little studio to myself.


Realizing how much creating things was a part of my personality, I started gravitating towards companies and people who dabble in making wonderful things. These people told me about the Tools for Women residency, and I immediately applied. Maybe this could be my maker-home away from home?


After the introductory Woodshop 101, I knew I was in the right place. I might be terrified by the table saw and confused by the CNC, but I feel like MakerLabs is a safe place where I can get over these hurdles, surrounded by inspiring, talented and helpful women. And I love the lathe.

We had an amazing lathe workshop with Ken, where we were making honey dippers. I was the only one in our group who couldn't finish the project - in fact, everyone else finished theirs (and they were beautiful!), and I somehow managed to break, chip or straight up explode no less than all FOUR of my attempts. I struggle with failure, and even though it is a natural part of the learning process, I still can't stand it. Being in a safe and supporting group made it easier to accept, and two days later I returned to make a candle holder on the lathe - this time without breaking anything. What a great feeling! This is exactly the kind of thing I'm hoping to get out of the rest of the residency.  Trial, error, learning and the exhilarating feeling of getting something right in the end .


As for projects I want to make, I don't have a grand plan just yet, but the lathe and the laser cutter have been my favourite tools so far, and I can't wait to explore them more. I'm sure there will be more failures along the way, but the residency - and the patient and encouraging teachers! - has given me the courage to at least give it a go and see what happens. Onwards and upwards!

1- Take up space.

Hello! I'm Andrea Alcaraz and I'm and illustrator and designer based in Vancouver. I work full time in the animation industry as a color stylist and background painter. As most of my time is spent in front of a screen working digitally, I constantly have a craving to create things with my own hands to balance it out. I have been a big fan of Makerlabs since moving to Vancouver, so having the opportunity to be part of the residency with such an amazing group of women has been a very motivating experience that has brought new life into my work.

Growing up in Mexico, I was always surrounded by beautiful folk art made by artisans. I wanted to make that a focus during the residency and explore ways to incorporate my own art with different materials, and create pieces that are reminiscent of home. I started the residency with an vague idea of a project that included creating toys out of cardboard and paper, but after going trough all of our workshops the idea has evolved as the possibilities of working with different mediums and processes have expanded.

One of the projects I hope to develop more during the second month of the residency is my wooden block houses. They are inspired by a town en Mexico called Guanajuato. Every house has bright colours and from a distance, they seem to be piled up on top of each other. The idea came after our woodworking class. Since my skills are still developing, I could only cut very basic shapes. This sparked the idea of creating the houses and I later experimented with some of my designs and the laser cutter.


There's been two very valuable reminders for me during this past month. 1- Take up space. 2- Fail, make mistakes, focus on process and there will be progress. There's definitely been a learning curve for every workshop we have taken, but the oddly enough, the most challenging part for me has been feeling comfortable taking up space in an environment dominated by men. Everyone at Makerlabs has been so helpful and supportive always offering help, so it is a lot easier to feel welcomed in such a space, but it is still a personal struggle that I'm sure a lot of us can identify with. The awesome women in my group have also been a great support as we motivate each other to overcome the fears and obstacles of new and scary tools.


I'm looking forward to creating more this second month, and being able to help other women during their residency!

A place to try new things and make mistakes

Hello, I'm Arianne, one of the April residents. I am a software developer and educator who feels bored when she's not learning new things.

As a kid, I knew I wanted to learn how to woodwork. I used to marvel at the tree houses that some of my cousins had in their backyards in our childhoods. But the high school I went to didn't offer woodworking, so I put those dreams on hold.

In the interim, I learned how to sew, rock climb, and program. I also made friends with a cactus.


When I turned 30, I realized that I finally had enough resources to pursue my dream of woodworking. After taking the Woodshop 101, 102 and Metalshop 101 classes at Makerlabs, I still didn't understand how to use the tools to actually make something. So I signed up for a woodworking course at Yaletown Roundhouse and got accepted into the Tools for Women residency.

Here is a side table I made in the Level 1 woodworking class.


The residency has given me a chance to learn the way that I like best, which is through experimentation and un-guided practice. At the beginning, I relied on help from the other makers in the space, which helped me get started on tools I hadn't used in a while. Now I feel comfortable with most of the tools in the wood-shop and the metal-shop, and have also gotten to try new things that were not even on the bucket list, like welding, wood turning, and CNC. Everybody has been very supportive (shoutout to Theunis, Ken, and Randy) and it has been great to learn alongside some really creative and kick-ass women (Crissy, Andrea, and Chris <3).

My focus for the first month was to become familiar with the tools I had used before, practise the ones that are new to me, and be okay with making mistakes. So far I have made plenty of mistakes, but there have been a few highlights. In the next month, I am going to plan one or two larger projects and try to work on them until completion.

A stool prototype from scrap wood. I tried making plugs to cover the dowels, but it turns out drilling a larger hole on top of a smaller one does not work well.


My first time using the metal-shop, a year after taking the 101 class. I used the drill press, bandsaw, and bender, with lots of help from Randy.


The lathe is very fun and meditative. This is the sample project that you get to make in the intro class.


Some wooden beads I made when practicing the lathe.


Space to make a big mess

Hi !

I'm Roxanne Nesbitt. I am a musician/composer, designer/sound artist and one of the 1st batch of artists doing the "Tools for Women" residency at Maker labs. I'm working on a variety of projects at the studio from musical instruments to furniture to music videos.



It's been about a month and a bit now... And it has been so healthy and productive for me to have daily access to focused studio space and such well-equipped workshops. One of the most useful things that I have made here so far, is a light box to help me make animations. I have been making animated collage videos for my band graftician for a few years now. I've always used janky temporary light boxes but having a custom light box is a game-changer.


I am also working on a couple new videos here. IT"S SOOOO AMAZING TO HAVE SO MUCH SPACE TO MAKE A BIG MESS IN! (and then clean-up after).

This is a excerpt from my new song/video cities: 

-made in part at maker labs on my new light box.

If you want to see / hear the whole video come by the Sunset Terrace on April 21st at 9 pm https://www.facebook.com/events/352794325127367/

All the best,