the #makevember manifesto

 

  • 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.)

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Yellow Submarine by Libby Miller

So where did #makevember come from?

I’m not sure there is anything new… yes, it’s been used before and even (I think) for similar work. This iteration of it and this manifesto came out of a conversation between myself and a guru of mine Richard Sewell (a maker known as Jarkman, famed for his spork making workshops, techno related projects and generally being a good egg and maker at large). Richard was telling me about our friend Libby’s Tumblr page makeathingaday.tumblr where Libby Miller (Bristol Hackspace, Radiodan, LibbyBot) has already started to challenge herself to make a thing-a-day… she told me

“I stumbled on Jason Taylor’s objects.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!”).”

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Fast Creature by Libby Miller

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.

Influences: Fixers Manifesto, Makers Bill of Rights, everydayobjects, MRaynsford, INKtober, Libby’s thingaday.tumblr & Angus MacGyver.

Photo credits: Used with kind permission by Libby Miller & Jason Taylor.

#219. Bottle guts
#219. Bottle guts by Jason Taylor
macgyver
WWMD by Dominic Morrow

 

 

6th annual derby mini maker faire

So the 6th Derby Mini Maker Faire marks something of the end of an era. With the Silk Mill about to go into 2 years of renovation, this will be the last Faire at the Mill until 2020 when a bigger Faire with a different format is on the cards.

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In the meantime, Derby Museums team intend to take Derby Mini Maker Faire on the road. It’s not 100% certain what that will look like yet, but early indications show that it will involve a Museum of Making bus and local industry partners.

I would like to thank all the staff at Derby Museums and all the volunteers, crew and makers who’ve made Derby Mini Maker Faire what it is over the years. I’d especially like to take time to thank Hannah, Andrea, Emma, Kim, Jonathan and Chris for all their work on this event.

Picture credits go to Richard Sewel (@jakman) and the wonderful Emma Hallam.

a sign of the times

I recently got a bit of encouragement on twitter for my blog post about the lost Nottingham Canal. If anything I only need the slightest provocation to geek-out about local history of lost infrastructure. Whenever I travel anywhere I always keep one eye out for “things-that-don’t-belong-to-our-time” in the built environment.

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Junction of Colwick Road and Racecourse Road, just after Colwick Railway Crossing.

 

One such thing that I’ve been noticing for (probably) about the last 15 years is the “Nottingham Racecourse” sign on Racecourse Road, in Sneinton. No doubt you could speculate, why not have a sign for the Racecourse on Racecourse Road?

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I don’t think the sign is especially old, probably from the 50s or 60s. The sign is made of box section metal and wood. The wooden parks are rotting away and will be gone soon and who knows how long the sign will last. Someone has tried to pull the “E” off the end of racecourse and a arrow has lost it’s wooden head. There seems to be wooden holders at the top of the sign where I suppose the next race meet could be advertised? These are in a bad state and will rot away in the next 5 to 10 years I’d have thought.

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This sign is utterly unloved and forgotten, it’s neither been painted nor used in the time I’ve lived in Nottingham. Furthermore it seems to be in the wrong place. Way would it be North of the Daleside Road Roundabout? Why doesn’t Colwick Road go to Colwick? It’s these questions which make a mildly interesting puzzle game for me.

Having lived in the city only for about 15 years I’d not know that Daleside Road is fairly new having been built in about 1985. I’d not know that the eastern half of Daleside Road from the Racecourse roundabout follows the course of a removed railway line, and that the racecourse had it’s own station. Evidence of the line is plainly seen west of Racecourse road alongside Bendigo Lane (expect a blog post on Bendigo at a later date) and is an interesting walk/cycle for infrastructure geeks to get into town.

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Racecourse Road sign about where the Racecourse Station would have started.

 

Racecourse Road, of course, used to be the ONLY road to the racecourse, there being no Daleside Road at all. The Racecourse sign would have been just before a railway bridge, about where the roundabout is now and traffic east would have run along Colwick Road, the ghost of which can be seen between Daleside Road and the racecourse, after the dog track. You don’t have to search very hard or look at many old maps to get the answers.

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I’m utterly in love with the National Library of Scotland’s OS map overlay onto Bing Maps and would strongly recommend it to any infrastructure geeks as a tool to take out-and-about with you.

I know this sign will be something that many Nottingham reader will have seen and even easily remember it in use. I’d love to hear comments or recollection below filling in the gaps. Thank you and more soon.

maker faire, the european edition. rome 2015

If you are a serious British maker with a project you’d like to promote or commercialise or even if you simply want to improve your network or get some new ideas you should be at Maker Faire Rome. Whilst on paper it is no way bigger than a US flagship faire, this quirky king-rat of an event is teaming with makers from all over Europe and visitor numbers in the tens of thousands.  

 The Faire is run by the Rome Chamber of Commerce who are a government/public sector organisation tasked with providing support and promotion to Roman businesses. One way they do this is by providing trade shows. This gives the Chamber extensive experience in running events and they have all the required equipment (marquees, fork trucks, security staff, fencing panals) and exstensive partners with which to do it.  

 Maker Faire Rome or more (or less) officially Maker Faire European Edition (depending on who you speak to) is in its third year as an event and on its third venue too. This fact is amazing to me and refreshing too. I strongly hold the belief that Faires need to have contingency plans to grow and reinvent themselves. It’s a bugbear of mine that some Faires really arn’t about the city or country they are in (and named after) but are really about the venue they are held in. This happens because generally the team doing most of the work will likely be the venues in house team and a Faire is a good way to create attention for your venue.  

 The layout of the Faire is interesting, there are large marques from A to Z (though I’m not 100% sure there are 26 in total) with exhibitors dotted about outside and around them too. There are a large number of rooms, stages and workshop areas for the conducting of hands on activities, talks and performances as well as food concessions stands and a Maker Shed type shop space. The Faire itself (possibly controversially) occupies the campus of Sapienza University of Rome, it has been fenced off at the usual entry points. The Faire is utilising some of the University buildings for talks (mostly in Italian) but seem to prefer to use the outside spaces and marquees.  

 The Faire runs over 3 days open to visitors, a schools and education day on the Friday with general admision on Saturday and Sunday. The main downside is that the Faire is super busy and the marques become very cramped and stuffy and moving about the Faire is difficult. The Romans seem very polite and freindly and about 60% of them are very happy to speak in English which is very nice of them, the other 40% or so don’t speak English but are loverly all the same. For this faire being able to speak Spanish or Italian would be an advantage. One good technique for exhibiting is putting information in Italian on a poster explaining your project and that you don’t speak Italian.  

 Having come solo without a project I’m keen to find opportunities to network and socialise with other makers, something I don’t actually find especially easy when its forced. As a good ice-breaker Robert Fitzsimons and I are trying to organise a Bay Area style “Bring-A-Hack” social this Sunday evening. If it goes well I might blog about it.  

  
 I’ll not try here to blog about projects I’ve seen. I like project but as you can probably tell if you read my posts I’m much more interested in the organisation of the Faire itself. There was everything you’d expect to see here and maybe a few surprises? FabLabs are big in Italy and there are very many represented here with all manner of projects. It’s amongst the FabLab stalls that you can find the most interesting and innovative of the exhibitors in my opinion. If anything I’d like to see more amature tinkerers with crazy projects. I think the event has the flavour of a trade faire gone wild. Projects that have impressed me are the Zero-Mile-House-Printer a delta 3D printer that uses local mud and water to print shelters. It’s impressively big. There is also a monolithic drone cage titled “house of drone” (is that how they call Game of Thrones here? House of Thrones?) it’s the biggest drone cage I’ve seen. 

So I thought I’d sneak this in at the end. This is likely my last blog of this type. I may continue to write up my visits to Maker Faires but they will be as picture albums or similar. I’m going to be entirely revamping my blog content to be much more specific on a couple of niche subject. Farewell dear readers, it’s been “fun”. I apologise for any spelling mistakes, WordPress app is shiv. 

zones 5 & 6, world maker faire, new york

Zone 5 was new at last years (2014) World Maker Faire and Zone 6 is new this year. This zone is very leafy and extremely pleasant part of Flushing Meadow. The pace really drops off in these zones and some consideration could/should be given to mixing in some of the more lively and popular regular exhibitors. I was told that last year some makers assigned to zone 5 complained that they didn’t get the foot traffic of some of the zones right near the main gate.

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Sustainability is a big part of Zone 5.
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Zone 6 is accessed by leaving the Faire walking along a path and popping into the car park of the Terrace on the Park.
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The Make Live stage. The largest speaking venue outside of NySci. One of several live presentation set ups at the Faire.
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Exit from Zone 5 towards the Unisphere, where Eeppy Bird was performing their Coke Zero and Mentos show.

Visually this area does have a very different feel to it. Zone 5 contained sub zones on sustainability, especially transport and a stage area for speakers. The maker exhibits were much more thinly spread in the area and could certainly accommodate a lot more in future years.

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Zone 6 beneath the Terrace on the Park contained spectacle in the form of the life-sized-mouse-trap and power tool racing.

Zone 6 was devoted to spectacle including the Life-Sized-Mouse-Trap, Power-Racing-Series and Power-tool-drag-racing.

You can get an idea of how the faire is laid out from the image below showing the site map for World Maker Faire 2015 and the same information from Google Maps.

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Map of the 6th annual World Maker Faire. 111th Street runs along the bottom edge the north is to the left side.

This concludes my blog posts on World Maker Faire 2015.

zones 3 & 4, world maker faire, new york

Well these World Maker Faire blog posts are really out of date and out of the moment now so to move them along quickly I’m going to try a new format. Pictures with comments…

Zone 3 had a large number of makers of all kinds, it hosted lock picking and fabrication in the Makers Pavilion, most of the hands-on activity and food vendors are in the area as well. It contains the “start-up zone” and leads onto Zone 4, primarily devoted to young makers.

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The Google “learn to solder” pavilion. Google provided thousands of free sets of safety glasses for kids at both World Maker Faire and Bay Area Maker Faire in 2015.
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The Maker Shed from the outside in Zone 3. Around the shed there was a variety of hands-on activity.
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Learn to Solder Zone prior to opening. Note the recycling point, “trash sort” is very well managed at Maker Faire.
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Robotics area in Zone 4.
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The Maker Shed, the sales arm of Maker Faire. This football field sized structure hosts the best of the on-line Maker Shed and is staffed with a communal cash register run by Make staff. Product manufacturers help by demonstrating their wares but do not sell directly to the pubic.
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Make Faire is famous for it’s paella, this guy on the left (can’t remember his name) was very proud of this set up. It’s the same vendor at both Bay Area and New York flagship Faire’s. He was telling me he might be in Rome too. Paella is the main dish at the Makers meetup the night before the Faire.
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This long “Avenue of Science” leads from Zone 3 past Zone 4 and onto Zones 4 and 5 and into the park.
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Zone 4 has a sizeable area set aside for food courts and food venues as well as live music.
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Zone 4 contained FIZZ a very popular hands on exhibit probably provided by Pepsi, where visitors could mix and experiment with making different drinks.

world maker faire logistics

I’ve been to 3 flagship Maker Faires, a flagship Faire is a huge Maker Faire generally with around 800 – 1000 “Makers” (that is exhibits). Currently there are two such Faires, one in New York, called the World Maker Faire and the original Maker Faire, Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo. I have had behind the scenes access and tours to both of these Faires, that has been a great privilege. But at this point I declare and disclaim that sadly I can barely scratch the surface of the intricacies of the logistics of a flagship faire and am definitely not in possession of nearly all the facts or any real hands-on experiences of doing them. What follows here is me trying my best to put across something of the flavour of what happens (at least on the day or so before) to put on a flagship Faire.

Humour in “the boneyard” an off limits area run by the heavy structure team. A scary but very cool place to hangout.

There are lots and lots of really large numbers of people and things to manage at a Flagship sized Faire. Last year the World Maker Faire hosted over 800 “Makers” which means 800 groups of exhibitors ranging from 1 person with a table needing one power socket, to parties of 12 or more on a large corporate stand with their own large tent or show vehicle. Then there are the sponsors who are looked after by a dedicated team. Also the “travellers” who are volunteers to help crew the event on the day but need managing too, anyone who’s ever managed volunteers knows this can be a difficult and sometimes thankless task. Additionally there is a permanent crew of about 250 including the editorial staff with their demands for WiFi and camera equipment, the maker shed team with their need for point of sale and of course the press manage.

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Crew register Makers at a Maker Station, these tables are a point of contact between the Faire and Makers during set up.
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Once set up is completed and the public are admitted, Maker Stations become information points by switching out the signage.

On top of that there are the food vendors who need to be set up and managed. Not to mention the big ticket paid for attractions, acts and speakers for the talks. Everyone needs to be fed and watered, have large amount of products or literature delivered be registered and processed onto the site and kept safe. There are a large number of temporary structures to construct from very small table and chair set-ups to massive football field sized pavilions, hundreds or portable toilets and about a mile of chain link fences. Extra generators for power are brought in and an additional cell phone mast is erected. There are police personnel, medics, museum staff and security men too. Oh… and I nearly forgot last year the World Maker Faire attracted 85K visitors.

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Visitors queue on Sunday morning awaiting the opening of World Maker Faire.

Many volunteers are tasked with collecting data and signatures in order to issue a liability waiver wrist band. The Maker Faire in the USA issues these wristbands in order for visitors to take part in any activity on the site during the Faire, this includes soldering. This is not something that can be done in the UK, it is not possible to sign away your liability and waivers aren’t worth the paper they are written on in a UK court. In the UK you will must have sufficient public liability insurance as well as sensible systems of work and a risk assessment in place. To some extent it should be made clear that activities should be run with a parent or guardian ensuring the safety of anyone under 18.

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All requests are run via a “chit” system.

It’s clear from speaking to a few of the organisers and managers that a lot of time has gone into refining and improving their processes. One that I heard the most about was reducing needless radio chatter. The Faire runs and monitors 16 channels, with the channels divided into different key teams or tasks. All radio chatter is written in a log. One of the key tools developed by Maker Faire to reduce chatter is the INFO HIT LIST. This pocket sized guide for the crew has facts and information in it aimed at reducing the number of needless radio enquiries.

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85k people need a place to go sometimes.

Each zone of the Faire has it’s own manager, the zones are really bigger than a “normal” Maker Faire size so the managers have a very responsible and hands on job. They curate the content of their zones even playing swapsies with other zone manager to better manage the presentation of their zone to the public.

Make’s Caleb Kraft captured the essence of the zoning and curation story in this recent Makezine post.