Marble Run Wall at reDiscover Center

Now that summer Tinkering Camp has wound down, I can share some of what we’ve been up to! I will post about the camp experience in itself soon, but first I’d like to show you one of the newest additions to reDiscover Center. Take a gander at the marble run wall!

 

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I worked with Molly Allis to build an 8-foot-tall pegboard wall for one corner of the studio. The top 40% contains elements designed by myself and some other facilitators and kids, which are meant to stay in place for the most part. There is a spiraling cylinder pulled from a donated gum ball machine, and a pachinko machine that uses screws as pegs. Pulley systems are set up on both sides of the pegboard to allow kids to crank marbles to the top of the marble run and let them loose.

 

The rest of the pegboard is entirely for tinkering. Kids can make elements such as ramps and funnels to add and move around, using wood, power tools, and recycled materials. Every day includes playing with the marble run wall!

 

Take a look at the videos below showing the process of making this installation and some of the first elements.

 

Barb Makes Things on YouTube

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As you may know, I do a lot of tutorials, both written and video. Some recent ones include a Concrete “PotHead” (which CRASH Space members intend to turn into an Easter Island-style display out front of the building), Concrete Letterpress Sign, and the latest tutorial for FlipBooKit, about assembling a Moto kit.

 

And now I’ve started a new YouTube channel called Barb Makes Things, in which I will explore some of my many maker interests with a new video each week. I’ve made a mount for my camera above my desk and am posting high-speed videos of what happens there. Some will have associated instructables, like the first one for the Concrete Letterpress Sign. Plans for upcoming videos include a papercut and frame, assembling my tiled desk top, and wooden rag dolls. If you have anything you’d like to see me make, let me know!

 

Head on over and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any.

 

Woodcraft and Tinkering School Teaser

 I’ve been spending a lot of time in the workshop lately, creating more of my wooden ragbots and wooden jewelry for my upcoming Etsy shop. 

 

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We’ve been quite busy with the launch of reDiscover Center’s new Tinkering Club program – tinkering every day of the week!  Expect a recap of summer Tinkering School at reDiscover Center soon, with oh so many pictures. To whet your appetite, here’s a video from one of the light and shadow plays a group of campers created (they wrote it, made the stage/screen, designed all of the puppets, and did the lighting).

 

Prepping for Maker Faire 2015

Maker Faire Bay Area is just a week away! I am so excited, and sooo busy.

 

Last year for Maker Faire, I showed my first Hexachord, a 3-foot-tall six-chambered rotary instrument. This year, I’ll be showing both the original and a new version. It’s a single-chambered design with six necks radiating from the center, and played by six servos hooked up to an Arduino Uno. Have a look at all of the in-progress pictures here and stop by the CRASHspace booth in the Expo Hall to see the completed instrument!

 

Hexachord interior assembled

Hexachord top  New Hexachord Necks

 

I will also be running workshops at the FlipBooKit booth in the Maker Shed, so come on by. There will be a sneak peek of my new ‘How to Make a Custom Animation’ video playing in the shed along with the original assembly one. Here’s the finished animation from my demo!

 

 

See you there!

Spring Break Tinkering School, Part 2


rDC Spring Tinkering Camp

Spring Break Tinkering School at reDiscover Center finished about a month ago now, and was great fun, and finally I have the chance to show you more pictures and video from the week! Check out my Flickr album here. The kids got a basic understanding of many of the things that go into creating a movie while building and playing with their creations. Thursday morning, we finished up our sets, props, and costumes, and in the afternoon we had some rehearsals, followed by quick filming. As it turned out, our main character was one of the script writers, and he had his lines memorized pretty much from the get go.

 

There were a few places where the counselors needed to supervise more closely than we might have ordinarily, given more time, so that we could get a video that effectively captured their creations. Several campers took turns operating the camera dolly with a counselor always on hand to keep an eye on the camera angle and record button, and one in particular took a keen interest in the audio recording, spending a lot of Thursday roaming camp with a recorder mounted on a camera tripod acting as a boom and headphones so she could hear what the microphone heard.

 

Thursday night, I edited our footage, a panoply of experimentation, improvisation, and sometimes intentional bloopers. (If I’d had more time, I would have created a blooper reel as well)

 

First thing Friday, after our welcome activity, the campers had the opportunity to see their movie, Attack of the Marshmallow Maniac, which clocked in at a whopping six minutes. Click below to watch it!

 

 

One of the things that most impressed me was that, once we hit our stride on Friday, creating elements of our theater/arcade for the parents’ screening, the campers had reached a point where they were comfortable enough with the tools that they could focus almost entirely on their creations. It is such a satisfying experience to see your campers truly absorb the medium.

 

There are many exciting plans in the works for Summer Tinkering School (one-week sessions starting June 15th – some spots are still available), but I won’t list them here in case any future campers are reading. It’s a surprise! You’ll love it!

Central Coder Time Bobble Bots

Thanks, everyone who came by the LA Makerspace booths at Central Coder Time today! It was great to see the inventive bot creations you came up with.

 

Bobble-Head Bot Papertoys

 

As promised, here is a link to the pattern and photo instructions for those who didn’t have a chance to finish up their bobble-head paper toys.

Spring Break Tinkering School at reDiscover Center

We are making a movie this week at reDiscover’s Tinkering School, where I am lead instructor. And when I say “we are making,” I mean the kids. They will be designing and building absolutely everything – the script, the sets and props, the camera dolly, and all of the characters/creatures. Today, the campers (aged 7-12) were presented with the week’s big build theme: Monster Attack Movie, and – after much debate and voting – they decided on a Lightning Marshmallow Man for their monster. 

 

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(The creativity behind this kind of brainstorm list just makes my day.)

 

It’s interesting to contemplate the things that the kids considered monster-worthy, especially as each society’s monsters are a reflection of the threats and concerns of the time period. There is obviously a heavy element of whimsy (a mutant transforming kitten, for example), and a lot of animals or everyday things turned upside down (a zombie vulnerable only to enchiladas), but the story that developed from their chosen monster says a lot. The marshmallow man comes about when a barrel of toxic waste spills on a bag of marshmallows. An environmental hazard makes the fluffiest of sweets deadly, and brings on natural disasters in the form of targeted lightning strikes. It does say a lot about what children see as some of the biggest threats right now.

 

Yesterday, they had training in all of the main tools of our shop: clamps (regular and corner), power drills and drivers, squares and T-squares, tape measures, hand saws, saw horses, jig saws, and the chop saw (the last two always are used with direct adult supervision).

 

The Tinkering Challenges from yesterday were to build a structure from dowels and corks with a trick that can easily knock it over, and – in the afternoon – to build something to move a cup of water around the room without  spilling it or holding it with their hands. We wrote down what we discovered from those challenges, and today we got to use those observations in planning the set destruction and the camera dolly.

 

They absolutely dove into building once we got going. The groups (which I always like to assign after the brainstorm, and based on what sparks their interest) had a few prompt questions to help them think of what aspects they would need to plan for. Fortunately, I had my laptop with me, because our writers have some killer keyboard skills and had enough ideas to need that speed. The monster building group decided on their materials, started building the frame, and learned how to use spade drill bits when they wanted larger holes. The set/props group began construction on a toxic waste refinery, the empire state building, and marshmallow bombs that break apart when they hit the ground (a really effective design, where foam balls are cut in half and held together loosely with a cork in the middle). The camera group assessed the challenge results from before and created their own design for a dolly based on them, which includes spaces for prop storage and snacks. Gotta love crafty. :)

 

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, and will post again with pictures!

State of the Makin

I’ve done a lot of instructables lately. Last week was the end of their Makerspace competition, which had a lot of fabulous entries, and our very own CRASHspace won with my Hexachord instructable. Woohoo! My Light-up Hobbit Papercut Bookmark also won second prize in the papercraft contest.

 

Which is not to say that I haven’t been creating physical things as well. The CNC router is just too much fun to leave alone, and I’ve made a couple wood signs, including this in-progress one of one of my favorite quotes from Steal Like an Artist. More pictures when it’s done.

 

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We’ve also been using a lot of T-Glase filament in the Bukito 3D printer, which is transparent(ish) and awesome for things like hanging air plant terrariums. Here’s the STL of the terrarium I designed in the picture above (where the clear filament looks more like silver). Oh, how I’d love to play with a resin printer.

 

This spring break and summer, I’ll be running the reDiscover Center’s Tinkering Camps, for which we have all kinds of fun plans, and starting this coming Saturday, February 7th, I’ll be doing Tinkering Studio afternoons as well. I am super excited about these upcoming events!

STEAM Carnival Fun

Many thanks to everyone who came to my talks at Two Bit Circus‘ STEAM Carnival this weekend!  I had a great time and was excited to talk to folks about making my instrument.

  

My Hexachord Talk at the STEAM Carnival

 

What’s more, the event was just plain fun!  Geeky games and carny exhibits? Awesome! I took a ton of pictures (admittedly many of them were of the Dunk Tank Flambé). You can check out the full flickr album here.