A maker’s gonna make

There’s a lot going on.  Academic Dean candidates are on campus and bringing with them a lot of interesting ideas and challenging questions.  One candidate said (more eloquently than I’m about to write) that she wants students to be dissatisfied with the world so that they are compelled to change it.  I’ve been thinking about that and what it means to ask questions and make things.  Mick Ebeling was also recently in Richmond, so there’s been a lot of buzz about Not PossibleI’ve been thinking about dissatisfaction, the pressure of bettering the world, the TED-ification of things, play versus “purpose” and “intentionality.”

I want to carve out a little time to reflect on it all and write things down, just because I think reflecting/writing will help me figure out some conflict I’m feeling.

But that will come later (I hope).

Maker kids keep making, and this is what they’re up to:

Students come up with ideas to put in a Bored Jar.  There are plans for both a physical and virtual Bored Jar.

Ideas for a "Bored Jar."

Ideas for a “Bored Jar.”

With some borrowed materials from the science department and cafeteria, students work on candied LEDs.

Candied LEDs in the works

Candied LEDs in the works

After re-working her circuit, this student gets the lights for her skyline going.

City Lights

City Lights

A reverse geocache box is in the works.

Reverse geocache box in the works

Reverse geocache box in the works

This student teaches himself to knit while waiting for a model to print on the Makerbot.  A visiting middle schooler (bottom right) looks on.  No time wasted.  Texting not allowed!

While waiting for something to print on the Makerbot...

While waiting for something to print on the Makerbot…

A student has watched a ton of Unity tutorials.  She created the landscape and added her first character.  In a blog post a student recently wrote:

I would first of all like to take the first bit of this blog post to thank the inventors of ‘how-to’ videos for simple origami structures. Aaron Rodgers may be the NFL MVP, but you know what? You’re the real MVP to me.

 

So true.  Tutorials are the MVP.

Unity

Unity

Some students have christened the small rehearsal/recording studio.  It is now “The Beats Lab.”  Some students are working with Ableton Live and an Akai midi pad to make some “sick beats.”  They’ve been calling on Bruce from the cafe to walk them through some of the software.  Bruce has mastered coffee and audio production.

In the Beats Lab

In the Beats Lab

Onward!

Ideas in the open

Last night I was at a board meeting for the local hackerspace.  Lots of stuff was discussed: met goals, culture, community involvement, doing more projects, protecting the time required for projects, etc.  I got to thinking about my lists of projects, which mainly exist on my phone (typically always handy for writing down ideas), but also in a variety of notebooks.

Too many notebooks

Too many notebooks

Some of the projects are in progress.  Most are just ideas, because of one excuse or another.  The projects usually don’t get past the idea phase thanks to one obstacle or another.  I thought I’d put the projects out in the open.  It’s always good to be held accountable for things.  And I need to write more.

So here are the ideas, progress, and reasons I may feel intimidated by said ideas.  Feel free to provide suggestions, tips, information, etc.:

The Project List Made Public

1.  Zombie apocalypse novel (short story/novella) set at a zombie survival training camp

  • I started this idea for NaNoWriMo 2014, because I don’t write enough.  When it’s time to write something, I feel rusty, awful, inarticulate, and slow.  I’m also forgetting grammar rules.
  • I gave up on this idea about a week into NaNoWriMo, which is usually when I give up on NaNoWriMo efforts.  My thinking:  (a) Why am I doing this again?  (b) Are there better ways to spend my time?  (c) Yes, there are other things I could be making and/or doing.  (d) I wish I could draw, because this would make for a great comic.  (e)  I should team up with my husband.  He can draw.

See how I forked that incomplete project into another project?  Pretty neat, huh?

2.  Zombie apocalypse comic set at a zombie survival training camp

3.  Whimsical Seussian birdhouse

  • What?
  • I’ve spent some time in the Hack.RVA FabLab.  I’ve used the drill press, band saw, and scroll saw.  I haven’t used them very well.  I happened to notice that we have the aforementioned tools in the wood shop at school.  So convenient!  I told one of the keepers of the shop that I wanted to learn to use some of the tools.  “What do you want to make?” he asked.  Why not make a whimsical Seussian birdhouse?  I also figured this project would be a good excuse for getting back to the CAD Dojo.
  • I haven’t touched this project, because of time (lack of) and the mild intimidation I feel toward AutoCAD.

4.  Jamie Lee Curtis’s embroidered face (in progress)

Embroidering Jamie Lee Curtis's face

Embroidering Jamie Lee Curtis’s face

  • This one is in the works.  The early works, but the works all the same.  A couple of years ago, Diana Rupp visited Fountain Books in Richmond.  I bought the Embroider Everything Workshop book, which I touched once in two years.  Embroidering Jamie Lee Curtis is a good project for practicing stitches for another next project….

5.  “We Live in a Heroic Age” embroidered on something

  • A story I shared recently: “Up until July 1st, there was a guy named D—- worked at school.  He is an awesome human being.  Creative, funny, a holder of big, exciting ideas, a Harvard grad, but you’d never know it, because he had a way of talking to everyone about anything and making people feel comfortable regardless of their background.  D—- went to be head of a school in horse country.  I was talking to a former English teacher who is now the head of the lower school at another local independent school.  She tells me about D—- visiting a year ago or so.  There talking about serious matters as people sometimes do.  He grabs her hands in his and says, “S—-, we live in a heroic age.”
  • Have truer words been spoken?

6.  Tumblr of Polaroid selfies

  • Does this already exist?  Surely it does.  I should search for it, but not right now, because I am busy.
  • Polaroid selfies are a thing.  I’m sure of it.  The selfie wasn’t born with the cell phone.
  • How does one create a submission form using Tumblr? (I don’t have to use Tumblr.)
  • How does one weed out photos dressed in an Instagram filter/frame?

7.  Y’all gonna make me lose my mind (in progress)

Cross stitched lyrics

Cross stitched lyrics

You will find lyrics to this DMX song ALL over the Internet.

Proving my point

Proving my point

See.  Mine will be special though.  It will eventually have sewable LEDs and a LilyTiny.  It will be amazing.  Also, I have three words for you: sewable LED sequins.

LEDS ON ALL THE THINGS!

8.  Knitted bandolier for things you need to carry

  • I’m not even sure where to go with this.  Crocheting may be a better choice.  Are crocheted things usually woven tighter?

This kid has a bandolier for snacks and toys.  It’s cool, but a knitted bandolier would be cooler.  Maybe.

This child featured at http://www.made-by-rae.com/2011/03/guest-tutorial-snack-bandolier/ has a bandolier.  We should all have bandolier.

This child featured at http://www.made-by-rae.com/2011/03/guest-tutorial-snack-bandolier/ has a bandolier. We should all have bandolier.

9.  Script for a horror movie called Hacker Space (inspired by the 1986 classic, Chopping Mall)

10.  A great American novel told through the flotsam and jetsam one may obtain through a network hack (inspired by the Sony hack).  Emails, names of folders and folder contents, movies, pictures, memos, calendars, etc. etc.

  • This would make for a great exquisite corpse.  Anyone want to collaborate?

That’s it.  Or at least those are the things that have been written down.

The numbers or an ode to power tools

Back in the late spring and all throughout the summer, there was a home improvement project.  It involved painting, some landscaping, and other things here and there.  My little house went from white to gray.  Shutters were removed so were the house numbers.

So I need house numbers.

Before the 2013-14 school year ended, I had the idea of making numbers from cans.  I got started on that project today.  Six months later (give or take).

Numbers and tools

Aluminum numbers and tools

I used the big red scissors to cut the cans.  I started in the mouth of the can and then cut vertically to the bottom.  I cut both the tops and bottoms of the cans, flattened said cans, and then used some templates to cut out the numbers.

House numbers

House numbers

I found some scrap wood in the scrap pile at Hack.RVA.  I debated about whether I should use the bandsaw unsupervised.

Should I use this?

Should I use this?

I used the bandsaw unsupervised.

I think everything went ok.

Except:

1.  I can’t cut straight lines.

2.  Is a bandsaw supposed to sound like 1,000 cats thrown in a bag?  I don’t know.

3.  Is the bandsaw the right tool for cutting a straight line?  Seems as good as any, so is there a wrong tool?

I got to thinking about power tools and an experience I had this week at Tomahawk Creek Middle School.  Members of the TCMS’s Tech Club participate in the E-nabling the Future project.  They modify files for prosthetic hands and arms, print the pieces, assemble the hands/arms, and then ship them off to the people who need the device.  Wednesday was an assembly day.  The gauntlet for one of the hands needed some sanding.  I gave a Dremel to a student who had been trained.  She took it, turned it on to the highest speed, and it got away from her, nicking the the library table.  She got it back, turned it off, and handed it to me.

“You turn it on,” she said and handed it back to me.

We compromised.  She held the Dremel, and I turned it on so that it gradually increased in speed.  By mid-morning, she found her footing, got the feel for the tool, and was sanding parts like she had been doing it for years.

Power tools are weird things.  Horribly intimidating to someone who’s never used them before and so, so intriguing at the same time.  I have no feel and no instinct for saws or drill presses.  I lack the intuition. What are they supposed to sound like when things are working well?  What do they sound like under stress?

I’ve owned my car since 2003, so I feel like an intuitionist when we’re on the road together.  I know how it’s supposed to sound and what it feels like to drive 35 mph or 65 mph.

I’m pretty excited about getting to know some of these tools just as well as I know that car.

As for the house numbers…  I’m waiting for paint to dry.

Waiting for paint to dry

Waiting for paint to dry

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

UPDATE:  Done-ish!!

The Numbers Project.  Kind of Done.  Done enough?

The Numbers Project. Kind of Done. Done enough?

I feel like I should put some kind of sealant on them, because these numbers will cut a b****  are sharp.