Owner: Mary Elliot Keane
Why Bellingham? “I knew the community would accept [The Foundry] here. There’s a large artist community that is vibrant and amazing with a lot of depth.”
Favorite shop downtown? “I think Modsock is just awesome. Northwest Handspun Yarns is really creative with the tree outside they decorate. And of course, Ragfinery. It’s great to have them right up the street from us for sewing projects.”
There is a paradise of sorts on North Forest Street for those who like to work with their hands and see their ideas come to life. The Foundry is Bellingham’s tool and skill sharing space. It’s a place where the community can try new things with the support of others. People can tackle projects they never would have been brave enough to do, armed with the knowledge that someone else can help if they run into trouble.
Inside The Foundry, which opened in September 2014, there are machines and tools for almost anything you might dream of. A full woodshop, 3D printer, 3D scanner, industrial sewing machine, electronics lab, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and traditional arts and crafts materials fill the large space. Also on display throughout the building are completed projects, offering ideas and inspiration on what to do next.
Owner Mary Elliot Keane grew up in Bellingham, but moved away and worked with a school district as a pediatric occupational therapist. The idea for The Foundry was planted in her head after she needed to make a pinky splint for a 2-year-old, since regular splints kept falling off. Mary ended up 3D printing a splint and was surprised at how easy it was. After thinking about and planning for a community workshop, she moved back to Bellingham in 2013, specifically to start her business. Since her intention was to be a supportive foundation of knowledge, and to supply the first step for people to create projects, she thought The Foundry was a good fit for a name.
Mary opened The Foundry as an offering to the community where people can make their ideas real, and as a space that takes the risk out of trying something new that you wouldn’t normally do. After investing in and collecting an impressive selection of tools, Mary has built a place where people don’t have to buy large machinery to create projects of their own. She also saw a need for people to practice skills they learn, such as welding and electronics, in order to keep that talent here in Bellingham, rather than moving away. Another driving factor for her business is a strong belief that project-based education is underutilized. Mary hopes to support youth education in science and engineering by providing a space for all ages to learn and collaborate.
The Foundry sustains itself through memberships and classes. There are monthly memberships that offer full access to equipment, workspaces, WiFi and more. There are also day passes and woodshop only passes. A variety of classes are offered to help people learn to use the machines at The Foundry. Community members can also teach classes of their own. There are events periodically, such as the Repair Cafe. On the first Sunday and Wednesday of each month, community members of differing skills volunteer their time to repair anything that people bring in to get fixed - electronics, small furniture and more.
At The Foundry, there are endless possibilities. People can create prototypes or make a small run of a product. Some run Etsy businesses using the tools at The Foundry. The mold for Chocolate Necessities’ “Bellinghamster” chocolate was made there. One member designed his own 3D printer that is high quality for a reasonable amount of money. There is now a class people can take where they buy a kit and put their own 3D printer together.
Mary loves to see people come in and hear about their ideas. She especially enjoys when she helps youth with projects and she sees it in their eyes that they are proud of what they created. Her goal is for people to come in with an idea and walk out with something in their hands. She finds it truly inspiring and invigorating that The Foundry has become a hub for people from different professions to work side by side and support each other, which she believes is when magic happens.
Bring your ideas to life at 1515 N Forest St.
Today's post was written by Kristin Foster, Media Intern.