Possibilities on the way

By Shari Harris,

 “What’s going on at the old factory?” Over the past several weeks, this question has been on many people’s minds after driving within sight of the old Rawlings plant on Cedar Street. Friday, new business owner Doug Ashby shared the answer to that question.
Ashby is building his dream shop, and in doing so, he hopes to inspire others to create their dreams in his visual arts workshop. He calls it mysandboxshop.com, and is equipping his shop with several pieces of computer-driven equipment. Ashby plans to train others to use the “toys” in his sandbox, as well as using the equipment himself. Ten computer stations are planned to allow others to come to Ashby’s sandbox and learn to use the equipment to create artwork or functional creations.
Some of Ashby’s equipment includes a CNC plasma cutting table that can be used to cut or etch designs on metal; a CNC vinyl cutter/drag knife, a milling machine, a digital lathe, a powder coating machine, and a 3D printer.
Ashby explains that these machines can help you create “possibilities.” In fact, Ashby plans to have the word “possibilities” prominently displayed in his shop, possibly in more than one place. He wants to provide a place where possibilities abound and can become realities.
Thingiverse is one source mentioned by Ashby for obtaining instructions for the CNC machines and the 3D printer. Thousands of items are available on Thingiverse, and Ashby will be able to show you how to use the equipment to make a design of your choice. But it’s not just other people’s ideas that are possible. If you want to use your own designs, the CNC machines will create what you design on a computer program such as Inkscape, a free and open-source vector graphics editor. There are also free programs for designing three-dimensional items for the 3D printer.
If the Ashby name sounds familiar, it may be. Doug Ashby’s family operated a turkey call factory near Houston from 1962-1992. His mother was an artist, and there were other artists in the family. Ashby created software for the oil industry for 30 years, and developed an image analysis system for ammunition companies to evaluate their shotgun systems. He continues to be involved in the latter and will be able to continue this work from his “sandbox” as well.
If all of this sounds interesting to you, stay tuned. Ashby plans to have his workshop completed in a matter of weeks, and he looks forward to sharing his “sandbox” with other creators when it is finished.



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