Bricolage is a podcast for makers, and it returns today with episode 6. I did toy with the idea of changing the season number but thought better of it.
We’ve managed to blow the dust off the microphones and recording equipment, we found a building where a number of makers were being held (not entirely against their wills) and we managed to record the things some of them said and edit them into something you can listen to!
Please do tell others about this podcast, like and/or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you can find it. No I don’t have some RSS feed thing. I need to get a better website I guess but that costs money I can’t spare right now (sorry), as this podcast really is a hobby.
In this episode I talk to my friend Lucy Rogers better known as Dr-Lucy-Rogers usually said in one breath. She is a fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Lucy is known for being a strong presence in the maker scene and for her work in broadcasting. She was a judge on the last 3 series of BBC Robot Wars. Recently she embarked on the founding of a guild, the Guild of Makers, an organisation that supports the growth of the industry related to makers and providing them with support and opportunities to build a community together.
We met at the Pi Wars event at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory on a sunny Saturday in late April 2018. The 2019 event has already been confirmed and you can get dates and more info by joining their mailing list. The event was very well attended, with teams of makers of all ages as well as school children running their Raspberry Pi brained robots around a series of 7 challenges. It’s with great thanks to organisers Mike Horne & Tim Richardson (and their sponsors) for putting on the event and allowing us access as press (got our own room and everything).
This episode was recorded and edited by Robert Nixdorf and Dominic Morrow (who is I’m). The music in this episode is provided Royalty Free by the Band of the US Marine Corp (oorah). It is a Morrow Works Pangolini Studio production for the internet.
In this new episode of Bricolage, a podcast for makers, I speak with Nick Zammeti of NZ Woodturning Co and Makers Central. Nick was very welcoming and let me have a look around his workshop where he and his son Charlie film his YouTube channels.
Nick is also behind the upcoming Makers Central event at the NEC in Birmingham in 5th & 6th May 2018 which will include lots of varied making including electronics, robotics, woodworking and lots of big name YouTube makers. In this show we mention lots of topics and makers including:
Every day in November make a thing – if you can’t do it every day then do what you can, but the idea is to push yourself to work daily and with less procrastination. Do not attempt to put your ducks in a row first.
Try to make something extra –art, craft, code, robots, video… anything…( but not your lunch or a mess or something you’d normally make anyway) something different with methods and materials that you don’t often try. #makevemeber is not for promoting your ETSY or tindie page or your everyday work #makevember stuff shouldn’t be FOR SALE. Make something different.
Don’t take more than a day to make it– if you only have 5 minutes that’s enough
Use what you have to hand, limiting your choice makes it easier –if you only have some mud and a stick, what would you make? Paper and a pen, what would you make? If you only have the stuff in your waste paper basket, what could you make?
Do it wherever you find yourself –working outside your usual space is good. If you find yourself on a train or plane, at the beach or in a hotel… what can you make?
Share it online with a photo or video – Instagram/twitter/facebook whatever, you know what to do #makevember
Be kind to yourself –it is more than okay to share something that is not going to change the world or that is a little bit squiffy or half-formed, even something that didn’t work.
Done, is good enough – You’ve been locked in a room you have only what’s in your pockets and in the room and a short time to make something, ask yourself, what would MacGyver do?
So is this #inktober but making instead of ink drawing?
Yes, you got it! These daily challenges aren’t anything new and are great fun! I’ve seen it done and done well by lots of people some of whom I’ll mention later. #makevember takes heavy inspiration from Jake Parker’s#inktober, Jake wanted a challenge he says “I created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.” he goes on to say that “…INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better. That’s it! Now go make something beautiful*.” The same applies to #makevember. (* let’s just say subjectively beautiful as in…Yay! You did it, go you! Note this tweet.)
“I stumbled on Jason Taylor’sobjects.blog and just thought – what a brilliant idea – I was really impressed that he kept on doing it for a year and that he wasn’t afraid to fail or do variations on a theme, or just bodge together something quickly, and some of them were fantastic (e.g. this and this “Spinge!”).”
Libby is our pioneer and has been going at making something every day for few weeks. She said.
“Having done it for a month or so now, the best thing about it is that you’re constantly looking at objects, thinking “what can I make out of that?”- it’s made me more observant (I’m sure this is true of Inktober, too), and more likely to notice the character of materials. I usually have a couple of possibilities in mind by the end of any day. I plan slightly bigger things for the weekend. I’m getting better at thinking of ideas and at bodging things together to see if they work. It seems to work best when I’m surrounded by my bits and pieces in my shed, but being stuck with nearly-nothing and no time is good too, constraints work well. I can’t over-emphasise that it’s ok to be crap too. Quite a few things I’ve done so far are failures, but I still learned something. People I know keep suggesting things, and I’m embracing that and crediting them!”
Richard added, one thing “…I love about these tiny, shoddy makes is that each one is playing with a single working principle or design idea. The need to make them simple and to make them quickly actually means they can be quite informative, setting up an idea in my head that might be part of a bigger thing in the future.” He went on to say that it reminded him of the pressure we (me, Richard, Libby and others) felt when exploring a daily practice of writing out 10-ideas, in the last 3 or so, you’ve run out of ideas… and when you are out there at the edge, that’s when the weird and sometimes best stuff comes to you. You are forced to think of something, anything… he said, “An effect I can’t describe very coherently – like finding the last couple of entries for a 10-ideas list, the pressure to find a simple-enough thing to make from limited supplies leads to a kind of stretching of the inventing muscles, finding not-obvious choices.” He told me that a friend of his David McGoran of RustySquids had described this sort of practice as “doing your scales” comparing how musicians run through drills and practices to improve their work. Its those sort of daily practices which help us in ways we maybe cannot imagine because at face value they don’t seem to be the sort of making we dream about.
A strong influence on me is the work of Martin Raynsford, who blogged about 365 laser cut projects for 365 days. When Martin and I worked together, I remembered how these iterations, each day took Martin from a laser cutting and CAD beginner to one of the most respected people in the hobbyist laser cutting world! It was those off days, where something new had to be thought of or something bigger was needed that really stretched Martin and made those design muscles and techniques much stronger. Literally like working a muscle, it only grows when it hurts.
For my part, I’m interested in mistakes, I’m interested in the learning that occurs at the edges of ability and what happens when we don’t have our usual, comfortable options. When giving the elevator pitch of this to makes, some say things like “Oh no, I’m away for part of November.” To me, that shows that they’ve already told themselves a story of how and what they make, what they make it with and where. #makevember is about taking ourselves out of those places, at least sometimes and seeing what develops at the edges of comfort.
So, please join me this November in pushing yourself to make things even make them badly, quickly, from whatever you have, wherever you are and then share them. Let’s #makevember.
For too long I’ve thought and talked about doing some posts of things I’ve made. After all my blog IS supposed to be a makers blog. What right at all do I have to talk about Maker Faires and Maker Spaces if I don’t make stuff? My business partner at Just Add Sharks, Martin Raynsford has long had his blog MSRaynsford where a few years ago he challenged himself on his blog to make 365 laser cut things in 365 days. More amazingly he ACTUALLY did it. Now, a few years on he regularly posts projects and challenges himself still to make things.
My first offering of an undisclosed and as yet undecided number of made things is this simple apple box. I wanted to recreate something like the apple boxes I’ve been seeing dotted about the place in antiques shops and as interior design and maybe I was also a little inspired by the Fruit & Veg Wholesale Market where we have our warehouse for Just Add Sharks. Sadly real apple boxes have been totally obsoleted by cardboard boxes which no doubt can be pulped rather than having to be returned to the orchard.
The boxes are made from 6mm Poplar Plywood from Kitronik.co.uk and cut on my Greyfin A2 Laser Cutter. The corners reinforcements are 10.5mm by 10.5mm pine rod and I’ve used my electric stapler on three of them and simple panel pins on the other one. I’ll probably try a smaller 3mm one using wood glue and perhaps try out some ageing techniques to see if I can add a little more patina. I’m quite pleased with the look of them generally.
It’s funny how ideas you have can stall the instant you don’t know what something is called, then SUDDENLY you accidentally see some article or random tweet or something about the very thing you were interested in and it makes a spark that drives you to DO something… for me that name was “SPLIT FLAP DISPLAYS”… I had no idea what they were called (and hadn’t tried hard to find out really) but always thought. Yeah, those are cool.
Split flap, flip flap or Solari displays (after the Italian manufacturer) are those big old noisy electro-mechanical displays you used to get at big stations and airports until the late 90s. Many have now been replaced with LED displays. These old displays have a lovely aesthetic and make an amazing noise.
I would like to make one. I first started thinking about this when I saw “Listening Post” at the Science Museum a few years ago. It’s well worth a look. I got to see it on my own which was quite chilling in a way. Anyway it uses LED displays rather than split flaps but they have used the split flap noise and programmed the LEDs in a way which mimics these displays. I also have memories of the split flap display at Kings Cross, in the early 1990s I did a lot of rail travel through London to Portsmouth and other Navy stations around the country. It was really my first time travelling around alone in big cities and I remember being fairly bowled over by the display at Kings Cross.
Anyway I thought I’d have a go at knocking a concept up on the laser cutter. I’ve used birch ply and polypropylene sheet for the flaps. I quickly knocked out some vinyl letters to give the idea. I need to tweak a load of things and actually drive the flap drum (that’s what I call it) around properly. On my concept it just friction of the axle driving it around. I’ll very likely use little steppers next. I’ll probably blog about it too.
In my video below you’ll be amused to hear I’m driving this by turning the axle and it’s gets stuck at H… it’s okay really it only goes up to M.
here is a picture of the drum inside it’s housing. The top bar on the box folds the top flap in place.
Should you care to do so you can down load my prototype (or concept as I call it) on thingiverse but it is very much a WORK IN PROGRESS! I hope to achieve more though the steppers I want from China might take a month apparently (and quite reasonably it is China after all).