#SummerofMake: Making with Our Hands

The Northern California Writing Project held two different Maker Day events this summer. The first, reported on here, had a Making with Technology focus; the second focused on making things with our hands.

We were lucky to be able to meet at Kim Jaxon’s home, which features the perfect setting for a day of making. We used the large outbuilding, which is divided into a huge shop with all the tools and supplies we could have wanted, and the infamous Elwood’s Cyberpunk Saloon, featuring tons of cool and inspirational steampunk art created by Kim’s awesome spousal unit, Jeff. Don’t worry, the saloon just provided an awesome backdrop for our day–no offerings that might have impaired our abilities! But being surrounded by things like the confessional boar, complete with working webcam, made us want to make cool things, too!

Untitled

 

We started out with a paper theme, first by making paper rockets and launching them using a compressed-air launcher (we built our own launchers later in the afternoon), then making basketball-sized decorative tissue-paper puffballs, and finishing with origami books.

starbook

After a make-your-own sandwich (hey, it was a maker day, after all!) for lunch, we made LED blinkybugs (here’s a link to the instructable; for cheap LEDs and batteries, try one of the Hong Kong retailers like Deal eXtreme). Success again. The only real fail of the day came when we tried to make chain maille bracelets like the ones in this Kickstarter campaign. But without failure, we never grow. Or that’s the type of platitude my kind friends provided when my instructional skills in this arena proved futile. 🙂 I guess we should have had on hand a tutorial on weaving the Persian 3-in-1 pattern to help people out.

We ended the day with the opportunity to remix all the makes, and finished with further rocket launches after the creation of four more brand-new launchers had entered the world. Such fun. Aren’t you sorry you missed it?

What’s interesting, though, is how much cross-curricular thinking went into the whole making process. Making the rockets helped us think about dimensions, aerodynamics, air pressure; the puffballs led us to think about patterns and iterations; the books made us consider structures, organization, and measurement; the bugs let us see circuitry and switches; the chain maille — well, that showed us the value of failure and frustration, I guess. All of the projects, though, made us think aesthetically along with all of the other aspects. It seemed to really hit home the relationship between form, function, and beauty.

  • Leslie Atkins Elliott

    What struck me: how absorbing it is to work with your hands on building a thing — and how rare. (I was captivated by the chainmail – particularly by how simple the pattern really is and how hard it was to replicate – but will admit to never quite ‘getting’ it.) What would it mean to have my students build a tangible product alongside their conceptual ‘ideas’? Thanks for including me in your maker gang!