Monday, 31 July 2017

How to Make Your Own Multitool

See how easy it can be to make a custom mutitool using basic shop tools.

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It’s a Drone That Spins and a Fidget Spinner That Flies — It’s a SpinnerDrone!

The SpinnerDrone can be spun in the hand like a fidget spinner, flown through the air via remote like a drone, or both!

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Maker Spotlight: Steven Goodwin

Steven Goodwin used to just tinker, but now he's built a smart home, complete with an automated door map and interconnected media.

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

This Week in Making: Walking Mech Cosplay, SeaCharger’s Return Home, and More

This week, a cosplayer suited up as Overwatch's D.Va, the SeaCharger tried to find a way home, and a prankster finds his way backstage.

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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Friday, 28 July 2017

Tips of the Week: Spinning Minis, Saving Breadboard Space, and Perhaps the Homeliest Tool Ever

From hobby ideas to electronics prototyping tips to tool inspirations, we cover the spread this week.

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Acquisition Ushers in New Era for Arduino; Banzi Named Chairman

arduinoArduino announced an acquisition today that will merge Arduino.cc and Arduino.org.

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Build an Electronic Audio Game with a Pencil, Paper, and Conductive Ink

Jay Silver’s 2008 Drawdio combines a simple 555 timer circuit with a pencil to make squeals, beeps, and other musical tones.

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See How This Intricate, 3D Printed Mechanical Calculator Works

The Curta mechanical calculator is an incredible feat of mechanical engineering. Marcus Wu decided to make a 3:1 scale version.

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Incredible History of Innovation Inspires Dayton Mini Maker Faire

Makers will gather at Carillon Historical Park and Dayton Mini Maker Faire on August 5-6 to celebrate the Dayton's tremendous maker spirit.

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Sewing a Personalized Leather Tool Roll

How to sew a very lovely roll-up leather organizer for your hand tools.

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Maker Spotlight: Joanna Skorupska

Joanna Skorupska combines the advantages of technology with the culture of innovation and natural curiosity.

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Learn The Lingo: Machine Knitting

Machine knitting is making a comeback. If you're looking to pick up the pastime as a hobby, learn these terms to avoid any confusion.

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Find a Telescope Workshop to Watch the Skies DIY Style

The Telescope Makers’ Workshop is an informal gathering where you can learn how to grind and polish your own Newtonian telescope mirror.

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Featuring: FORGE at Kenton County Public Library

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Midsummer Maker Camp — It’s Never Too Late to Start!

Maker CampBased online, Maker Camp could be just a suggestion, a chimera, a virtual place to go and glean ideas. But from its aspirational concept has sprung a solid and tightly knit community that gathers to make, share, learn, and yes — fail — together.

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8 Amazing Maker Faire Detroit Exhibits to Gawk at This Weekend

Flames, embroidery, and giant art cars. Detroit will be spectacular

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La Machine Preps Their Giant, Fantastical Creatures for Ottawa’s Birthday Celebration

Kumo, the giant spider, and Long Ma, the gorgeous dragon-horse, come alive this weekend to invade Ottawa, Canada.

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Maker Faire Rome Now Accepting Proposals from Makers, Schools, and Research Centers

Calling all makers, universities, research centers, and schools: Maker Faire Rome is now accepting proposals.

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How to Organize and Plan for a Group Project

Building with others lets you do great things. But first, break the project doing into attainable tasks and make a plan.

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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Turning an Angle Grinder into a Multitool

Watch one industrious maker turn an angle grinder into a versatile tool for working metal and wood.

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Get Early Bird Tickets for World Maker Faire New York Before They’re Gone

The 8th annual World Maker Faire in New York is fast approaching. Don't miss out on our reduced rate, "Early Bird" tickets.

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Edible Innovations: Meet Sally, a Salad-Making Robot

Charlie, a food maker professional, designed Sally, a combination of robotics and vending machine technology, to automate salad making.

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Maker Pro News: The Business Plan of Giant Fighting Robots, Makers in the Workforce, and More

Maker professionals come in all shapes and sizes, from giant fighter robot entrepreneurs to vertical farmers.

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How to Succeed in (the Public Library Online Local Music Collection) Business: Care  

Posters in Edmonton’s Capital City Records

by Kelly Hiser

Rabble is a startup based in Madison, Wisconsin that builds online local music collections with public libraries. Our open-source platform, MUSICat, helps librarians connect with local musicians to collect, curate, license, and publish music. We work with an amazing group of library partners, in Edmonton, Madison, Nashville, and Seattle, and we’re excited to bring several new partners on board in 2017: Hennepin County Library, Omaha Public Library, and Multnomah County Library. Minneapolis, Omaha, and Portland are home to incredible and distinctive music communities, and we’re excited to listen to their collections later this year.

Rabble will turn three this fall, and we’re pleased that we’re still around and continuing to form new relationships with libraries. Building a startup in a niche public library market has not been easy, and we’ve faced our fair share of challenges and setbacks. But we’ve come a long way, and we feel optimistic about our future. I credit Rabble’s success largely to the care we bring to our work with librarians and musicians. 

Albums in Nashville’s BoomBox

Care may not be a practice that most CEOs center in their work, but it’s essential to mine. I aspire to care as a radial practice in my life and work. For Rabble, that means centering people, not profits. It means taking a values-driven approach to decisions big and small. To care is not to be emotional or weak but to build meaningful relationships that can grow, adapt, and endure. As an organization, care operates within Rabble at multiple levels: personally, socially, and professionally.

To care is not to be emotional or weak but to build meaningful relationships that can grow, adapt, and endure. As an organization, care operates within Rabble at multiple levels: personally, socially, and professionally.

At the personal level, my care for libraries, librarians, and musicians runs deep. I’m lucky to count many academic and public librarians among my friends, and my partner is a talented and passionate public librarian. He’s acted as a sounding board and advisor to me since I began working with libraries. His commitment to building more equitable communities through library service has helped ground my own work in the values of public librarianship.

My friends and family also include many working musicians. I lived as one myself, making ends meet as a pianist with a mix of accompanying, lesson teaching, church gigs, and (ahem) waitressing. I eventually ended up as a music historian, which deepened my understanding and curiosity about how our society values music and musicians. My care about music’s value—about who gets compensated and recognized, and for what—informs my work as a historian and Rabble’s CEO.

Librarians also care about how their work creates value for their communities, and they’ve been doing and theorizing that work far longer than Rabble has been around. The Rabble team recognizes that, and we try to follow librarians’ lead.

Librarians also care about how their work creates value for their communities, and they’ve been doing and theorizing that work far longer than Rabble has been around. The Rabble team recognizes that, and we try to follow librarians’ lead. After all, librarians came up with the model that our MUSICat app supports, in which libraries license work directly from local artists to share online with their communities. This is where the social aspect of Rabble’s care comes in: we do our best to follow conversations among librarians on Twitter and in journals, and to talk with librarians whenever we can (librarians are really, really generous about doing this). We’re also fortunate to have Kristin Eschenfelder, the director of UW-Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies, as a board member. Through conversations with folks like Kristin, we’re constantly deepening and refining our understanding of how we can contribute to the work of librarians.

Artists featured in Madison’s Yahara Music Library

We also bring care to our professional relationships. We work with staff at our partner libraries on a day-to-day basis. Caring about those professional relationships means, in part, recognizing how ridiculously busy most librarians are, and doing simple things to simplify their lives, like responding to email promptly. We work hard to listen carefully to librarians when they share their ideas, needs, and concerns with us. We check in with them about how their work is going and actively solicit feedback about how we can do better. This communication is invaluable to Rabble—it helps us continually improve our own processes, build better tools, and become a better partner.

Some of the most celebrated and innovative public libraries in the world have chosen to work with a little-known, tiny startup on bold and experimental new music projects. I’m convinced that folks at those libraries took a chance on Rabble because they recognized that we care about the work we do with them, and they know that care makes all the difference.

 

Kelly Hiser is co-founder and CEO of Rabble, a startup dedicated to empowering libraries to support and sustain their local creative communities. Kelly holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and embraces work at the intersections of arts, humanities, and the public good.



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Monday, 24 July 2017

8 Projects to Do with Your Family This Summer

Here are some project ideas your family will have fun collaborating on, and that will help inspire your kids to be makers.

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Maker Spotlight: Lit Lao

Lit Lao is a makerEd educator. She thinks of new ways to offer education and how these new methods can influence the next generation.

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Sunday, 23 July 2017

This Week in Making: Fidget Spinner Battle, Hacked Fish Tank, and Magnetic Finger

This week saw fidget spinners engage in combat, a casino get hacked through their fish tank, and a writer lament about her body modification.

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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Weekend Watch: Wintergatan’s Wonderful Works

Every video on Wintergatan’s channel is a little different, each focused on different aspects of engineering a wonderful homemade instrument.

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Friday, 21 July 2017

The Possibilities Are Endless at Maker Faire Tokyo

Tokyo will be hosting its 6th annual Maker Faire at the beginning of August!

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Make: and Maker Faire Expand with Korea’s Bloter & Media Partnership

We're thrilled to announce our new partnership with South Korean media outlet Bloter & Media to publish a Korean version of Make: magazine and produce Maker Faire Seoul this October.

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Tips of the Week: Cutting Resin with Microbeads, Herringbone CNC Tape, Hiring a Machine Shop

Learn the Feynman technique, skip the tabs on your CNC jobs, ID your tools, and learn how to talk to a machine shop.

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Check Out What the Maker Camp Community Is Building

Maker Camp worked hard on creating education and amusing activities, and it makes us so happy to see people out there building things.

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How to Get Involved in Your Local R/C Pilot Community

With cheaper materials, affordable ready-to-fly models, and increasingly reliable electronics, the model flying industry is coming back.

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Maker Spotlight: Tangtang “CTT” Cai

Meet Tangtang "CTT" Cai, a weapons maker who got his start when his parents decided he didn't need toys, and he had to make his own.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Junkyard Knapping: Making Arrowheads from a “Forbidden” Bottle

A "historical hunter" uses knapping to turn an antique whiskey bottle into a set of arrowheads.

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Edible Innovations: Amsterdam’s Mediamatic Is a Makerspace for Food Design

Mediamatic positions itself as a cultural institution, organizing lectures, workshops, and art projects for food makers and artists.

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Explore the Multifaceted, Century-Old World of Model Railroads

Model railroads are built in different shapes, scales, and sizes, from exact-detailed copies of railroad locales, to more fanciful designs.

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Singapore Hosts a Full-On Maker Extravaganza

5 innovative projects to see at Maker Faire Singapore

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Arduino-Neopixel Traffic Map

This project displays live traffic conditions between two locations on a physical map, using an Adafruit Feather Huzzah that gathers data from the Google Maps API and then sets the color of a string of NeoPixels

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Your Pioneering Project Could Earn a Rolex Award for Making a Significant Impact

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise support individuals who carry out innovative projects that advance human knowledge or well-being.

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Keep Your Project Secure with These CNC Workholding Techniques

If you're going to be machining, you'll need to hold down your material. These techniques and tricks will keep your project secure while the job gets done.

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Discovering Austen: a One Woman Show

Discovering Austen poster

Promotional poster for “Discovering Austen,” a one woman show by Kristin Hammargren.

This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in 2012. We revisit our interview with Kristin Hammargren this week, 200 years after Austen’s death.

Kristin is still performing Discovering Austen in the Midwest! Check out the upcoming performance dates.

The Library as Incubator Project is pleased to welcome Kristin Hammargren for an interview on her upcoming one woman show, Discovering Austen (running Thursday, January 26 – Saturday, January 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Hemsley Theatre, 821 University Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin). – Laura

Please describe the show for us.

Discovering Austen is a one-woman show that I developed for my MFA Thesis. It’s set in the dressing room of an actor who has been cast as Jane Austen in a play about the author’s life. Before the show on opening night, she is trying to answer her last nagging questions about who Jane Austen really was.

Why this particular subject matter?

Jane Austen has been one of my all-time favorite authors since I first read Emma when I was maybe 12 or 13. However old I was, I remember it took me 15 minutes to read a page, the language was so complex to me. Like the actor in the show, I didn’t know much about the life of Austen before starting this project and was fascinated to experience first hand the twist and turns of negotiating how she is presented at different times in history and by different people.

For all of the hundreds of books that have been written on her (and who knows how many dissertations) up to very recently there has been some major misinformation available, letters that her family edited, doctored pictures of her, etc. So, even though she died almost 200 years ago, in some ways scholarship about Austen is very new.

Kristin Hammargren headshot

Kristin Hammargren will perform her one woman show, Discovering Austen, January 26-28 in Madison, WI.

What sort of research did you do in order to develop the script?

I read nothing but Austen or books about Austen for about 3 months straight before starting the actual writing process. I reread all of her novels and read for the first time her minor works, letters, and several biographies/scholarly books.  I also tried to expose myself to all of the different interpretations that are out there today of Austen and her work. Part of what I deal with in the story is how she is represented or most often misrepresented as a person or even dumbed down as a writer, particularly in film adaptations.

What sort of research did you do in order to develop your own performance?

For the performance itself, I did a little bit of research about the time period. In terms of style, I really had it easy because some of the film adaptations of Austen are quite accurate in terms of clothing, movement and manners. Other than that, it’s been looking for specific bits of inspiration to distinguish the twenty or so characters I play.

Can you talk a little bit about the scriptwriting/performance process?

Writing the script has been so fascinating. I started by making a timeline of the events in her life I thought were significant and could be woven together as storylines. My first draft ended up being a very long, essentially biographical tale. It was not very dramatic. My second draft became a little more like a play but was still way too long. I had so much information and so many pieces from her writing that I wanted to include.

In the end, I’ve had to pare down the story to something that feels more like a play than a lecture and can (hopefully) keep an audience engaged for an hour and a half. The fascinating part has been that things I wrote twenty drafts ago and cut maybe ten drafts ago will come back, maybe just a sentence, but the final script really has woven itself together from many different iterations going back over the past six months.

Any specific titles that you would recommend for people interested in learning more about Jane Austen?

If you’re looking for information about Jane Austen, the best biography I encountered was Jane Austen: A Family Record by Dierdre LeFaye. She also edited the collection of her letters, aptly titled, Jane Austen’s Letters. There are lots of letters but some of them are really fun.

UW-Madison professor Emily Auerbach wrote a book called Searching for Jane Austen, which completely opened my eyes to Austen’s legacy and the way she is treated in today’s society. It’s a great read but you probably would want to be familiar with most of Austen’s novels to really get into it.

A great compromise between information about Austen and fiction is Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon. It’s a great, quick, epistolary novel from author Fay Weldon to her (fictional) niece as she encounters Austen as a freshman in college. If you want to read Austen herself, pick up the Juvenilia, this is everything she wrote as a teenager, and it is hilarious and engaging. She had the same keen eye in her youth but a much more melodramatic style. The Juvenilia is really fun.

Kristin Hammargren is an MFA candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Theatre & Drama. For more information about Kristin’s show, including ticket information, please visit the Discovering Austen website.  

All content on this page is copyright of the featured artist.



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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Building a Rideable Lego Skateboard

An industrious maker 3D prints a human-size motorized skateboard.

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Maker Pro News: Brain-computer Interfaces, the Importance of Intuition, and More

We launched our first Mission for Maker Share and plenty of maker pros got to work on it. There were also plenty of projects concerning IoT.

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How One Korean School Is Using Maker Share to Showcase Projects

The Maker Share portfolio platform just launched, and has already been picked up by Korean high school students involved with the Intel Innovation Lab program.

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MegaBet: Inside MegaBot’s Journey to Launch a Giant Combat Robot League

The creators of MegaBots' Mk.III, a $2.5 million dollar fighting robot, hope it will kick off a new form of live entertainment.

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Introducing the Minneapolis Art Lending Library

by Amelia Foster

Founded in 2013, the Minneapolis Art Lending Library is a collection of about 110 pieces of original artwork that are available to the public for free, three-month loan periods. We aim to provide a new model for artists to showcase their work and build a following, while also cultivating a new audience of art supporters. Below, some more details in an interview with co-founder, Larsen Husby. 

Robert Nicholl | Title: 527 24th Street

Amelia Foster for the LAIP (AF): Tell us about the Minneapolis Art Lending Library– what’s the goal of it? 

Larse Husby (LH): Our mission is to “provide exposure for artists, build ongoing support for the arts, and share the joy of art with all members of our community through the free lending of artwork.” We believe that there is value in living with a work of art, observing it over a long period of time and seeing it interact with the environment of the home. This kind of long-form viewing is hard to come by unless you can afford to buy lots of original art. We hope to provide access to this particular form of art engagement with a wider audience by making it free to borrow original works of art. Additionally, we aim to provide a unique and beneficial form of exposure for artists, allowing them to showcase art in a new format. Through our project, we hope to build support for the arts by connecting artists and art lovers, and introducing our community to the joys of living with art. 

Camille Erickson | Title: A peephole, dressing room, or confessional?

AF: How did this idea come together? 

LH: Our three co-founders – Mac Balentine, Julia Caston, and myself – met while studying abroad in Europe. We visited the Neue Berliner Kunstverein, an art center in Berlin which operates an art lending program for residents of the city. Inspired by this democratic approach to art access, we decided that such a program might be popular in Minneapolis, with its enthusiastic embrace of community arts. In 2013, the MALL assembled a small collection of artwork, and began lending it to the public out of Mac’s and my living room. Seeing people’s interest, we quickly reached out to partner with other organizations, and soon were hosting events at established art venues. We incorporated as a nonprofit in 2015, and now have a part-time staff of three people in addition to a board of directors. We have continued to collaborate with other venues, and this past year the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation has generously hosted our events at recreation centers across the city

Lending event photos by Joni Van Bockel
 
AF: Tell us about your artists and your patrons– how are you serving each side of this art exchange?  

LH: We designed this operation to serve both sides, borrowers and artists. It’s easy to see what the borrowers get out of it – free art! We know we are asking a lot of artists, so we aim to make the opportunity worthwhile. There is no fee to submit images or to participate, and artists may choose to donate or lend their work to the MALL. Artists who loan their works may list them for sale, and we provide this information to borrowers. MALL takes a 25% commission on sales, a rate well below commercial art galleries. We have sold a number of on loan works to borrowers who fell in love with their art, and still others seek out more of the artist’s work after borrowing a piece. In addition to participating in our circulating collection, MALL also runs a paid Artist Fellowship, which invites artists to run creative programs during our events. 

Wing Young Huie | Title: Couple with Clouds, Looking for Asian America

AF: What’s coming up for the Library that you’re excited about? 
LH: Our next Lending Hours will be held on Thursday, July 27th, 5pm to 8pm, at the Powderhorn Recreation Center, 3400 15th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407. You can drop in anytime to browse our collection and pick an artwork to take home with you. More information on our website, artlending.org. The event is completely free, but we welcome a donation of $5 per person, either in cash at the event or anytime via our Paypal.

 

Credit: Joni Van Bockel

 

The Minneapolis Art Lending Library (MALL) was conceived by artists Mac BalentineJulia Caston and Larsen Husby as a new way to bring art into the lives of community members.



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Monday, 17 July 2017

Hand-Cutting and Fire-Hardening Steel Files Using Ancient Techniques

Making a set of files just like the ancients, from mild, case-hardened steel.

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Scoop Fresh Air Into Your Car with This Window Vent

These triangular vent windows scoop fresh air into your car, which cools the driver by evaporation. It also pushes natural scents into your car.

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These 3D Resin Sculptures Suspend Paint in Mid-Air

Will Atwood’s three-dimensional resin paintings have, on average, twenty layers. They change when looked at from different angles.

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Weekend Watch: Build a Simple Trebuchet from Household Items

This simple trebuchet project proves that anyone can be a maker and that you can create something from nothing.

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Friday, 14 July 2017

Maker Faire Xi’an: Live Updates

Everything is BIG at Maker Faire Xi'an

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Tips of the Week: Adjusting Nail Gun Pressure on the Fly, Clear Storage, Heat-Forming PVC

This week's top tips on using a nail gun, organizing your supplies, staying inspired, sewing machine troubleshooting, and more.

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Wondering What to Wear to Maker Faire Bodensee? Costumes, of Course!

Maker Faire Bodensee returns to the German city of Friedrichshafen this weekend for its second annual celebration of cosplay, costumes, upcycling, music, and more!

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How Burning Man Helped the Arts Community Collaborate and Evolve

Find a group near you that does Burning Man projects, and start working together with other makers on extensive collaborative art projects.

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This Sonic Amplifier Replica from Overwatch Actually “Shoots” Music

John Edgar Park’s replica of LĂșcio’s Sonic Amplifier, from the video game Overwatch, mimics the gun’s in-game ability to “shoot” music.

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Visas Approved for Afghan All Girls Robotics Team

The all girls Afghan robotics team overcame much hardship to participate in the upcoming 2017 FIRST GLOBAL CHALLENGE.

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Edible Innovations: Going Vertical is a Smarter Way to Farm

Elaine Kung is a New-Yorker environmental engineer who graduated from MIT Media Lab. She wants to make farming more vertical.

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Crafting Adventure Time’s Enchiridion as an Ode to Medieval Book Making

Frank Zhao put his book making skills to the test, and crafted the "Enchiridion" from the TV show "Adventure Time."

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Connect with the Global Community of Amateur Radio Enthusiasts

You can easily join the amateur radio community. All you need is a ham radio and a Tech license (which is easy to study for).

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Featuring: Clare Qualmann

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Clare Qualmann, an artist and researcher based in the UK. Clare’s work came to my attention after I saw reference to an article of hers, The Artist in the Library, published in Performance Research: Vol. 22, No. 1. Today we ask Clare questions about her own library-incubated work, as well as her research on similar projects. Enjoy! ~Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself and your work to our community. 

Clare Qualmann (CQ): My name is Clare Qualmann, I’m an artist, lecturer and researcher. I make work that reflects on ordinary and everyday routines – and am interested in the meshwork of connections between people, place and politics.

LAIP: What is or has been your relationship to libraries, as an artist, as a reader, researcher (or all of the above) — however you feel like answering.

CQ: I was an avid reader growing up – and I used the school library at my secondary school extensively, as well as reading my parents books at home. We lived in a village with no library but when I was a little bit older I used the library in the local town (Winchester – one of the first public libraries on the UK) and would work through shelves of novels there after school and before going to work in the evening.

As an art student I was really encouraged to contextualise my visual work – and support what I was doing by referencing a broad range of artists and diverse other sources – always using the library as a base. Revelations included the discovery of a (CDROM) index to journal articles when I was at Winchester School of Art, and an amazing room full of exhibition catalogues and artists’ monographs at Liverpool Art School’s library. I left art school in 1999, moved to London, and my first job was as a part time library assistant in a university art and design library. Having spent a summer bereft of access to journals and books on the scale that I was used to, it was amazing to be back in an environment surrounded by resources. The library was also a very supportive space in which to develop my art practice. Several of my colleagues were artists, and the students and staff from the university contributed to the sense that the library played a core role in the creative process. I worked there for 8 years.

Now there are a number of libraries I use – in different ways. I love my local libraries – Hackney Central and Dalston – and often work there. Hackney Central has a really good collection of reference books on London. The successor to the library that I worked in for so long – which is now part of London Metropolitan University is an amazing place too and I often go there to work when I need to research a broad theme or get access to a wide range of art books. Their collection is outstanding – a testament to 20 years of meticulous purchasing by the former librarians Paul Semple and Richard Farr. I also really like the map room at the British Library (even when I’m not looking at maps) though I find the closed stack system isn’t great for the way I like to work – there’s no way to browse!

LAIP: Do you have an example of a library-inspired piece of work or series of works that you can share with us?

CQ: One of the first library based works that I made was an artists’ book ‘An Ode to Shelf Tidying: a Poem for the 709.24s’. One of the most monotonous jobs in a library with open stacks is shelf tidying. The task is to check that every single book is in the correct order on the shelf, and if it isn’t to make it so. We used to do it for an hour on Monday mornings, before the library opened for users, and when it had been busy and there was a mess. In the Dewey Decimal Classification system three-letter extensions are added to numerical class marks to enable more precise shelf locations – especially in sections that have a lot of books at the same class mark. In an art library, sections like 709.24, described in the Dewey scheme as ‘description, critical appraisal, biography, works of artists not limited to or chiefly identified with a specific form’ (OCLC 2016, p.787), have hundreds of books in them that need to be placed in alphabetical order – usually by the first three letters of the author’s surname or the artist-subject of the book. So as I would go along tidying I would say the letters in my head, or sometimes aloud, making a kind of nonsense poetry: ‘ABA, ABR, ACC, ACC, B, B, BAL, BAN’ and so on, a micro performance for myself and for the accidental audience around me. 

“Ode to Shelf Tidying” pages 1 & 2. By Clare Qualmann.

The artist’s book that I made records the same bookshelf at two points – firstly when messy, secondly when tidied. The first version of the book was made using moveable rubber type, set in a simple block formation. My decision to record two ‘polar’ states – one of perfect order, and one of utter mess – reflected the very different attitudes of library colleagues, some of whom seemed to embrace disorder as an indicator of successful library use, and others who regarded users as a nuisance who disrupted their perfect order. Of course the reality of everyday library life was somewhere in between these two states, titled in my book ‘order’ and ‘chaos’, but the middle ground is so much harder to identify and capture compared to the extreme satisfaction of precise tight shelves, or the (possibly equally satisfying) view of shelves disrupted by very heavy use.

More recently I’ve been working on a series of photographs of empty libraries – which very sadly there are many of in the UK at the moment. 

LAIP: In addition to being an artist yourself, you have also researched the relationship of artists to libraries. Can you tell us a bit about that research and what you’ve found from examining the work of other library-incubated artists?

CQ: When I was working in the library I had many colleagues who were artists – and although they weren’t making work specifically about it, I was aware of an aesthetic influence, a sensibility perhaps, that connected with the work that we were doing. Repetitive tasks like the shelf tidying, but also book repairing and covering, cataloguing and labelling – the taxonomies of organisation. When I left the library job and was working as a lecturer one of the first projects I did with students was based in the library. Researching lectures for this class I began to uncover many many more artists whose work related to, was based in, or drew upon libraries and my thinking on these aesthetics continued. My recent article (The Artist in the Library, Performance Research, 2017) draws together this thinking, along with archival research and interviews with artists to define a set of library aesthetics – these include; practices of classification, cataloguing and organisation; languages of display; ephemera and the palimpsest of shared use; ideas of order and chaos; and relational aspects of library interaction connecting in turn to discourse around conceptual art, the everyday and systems art as well as social practice.

LAIP: What does your ideal library, real or imagined, look like? What does it have in it? What does it feel like?

CQ: It’s easy to idealise things that have gone! But Commercial Road library, where I worked for so long, was pretty close. It had some very well designed spaces for sitting and reading – desk spaces and study carrels, but also more comfortable seating too. Loads of plants – an extraordinary hibiscus that would flower spectacularly. Staff are vital – librarians with lateral thinking skills and a good general knowledge, approachable, helpful, interested. The collection (as I’ve mentioned above) is vital too – ideally this is a comprehensive art and design history, with plenty of cultural studies, sociology, architecture, economics, psychology, urban studies, theatre and performance, history thrown in too. Diverse and unusual publications too – artists books, zines and self published works. An approach to purchasing that is really active and engaged so the contemporary is well represented as well. and journals, newspapers, magazines…..  

Read more about Clare Qualmann and her work at her website, clarequalmann.co.uk.



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