Sunday, 24 September 2017

Maker Faire Producers from Across the Globe Convene at Maker Faire New York 2017

Producers from across the global network of Maker Faires glean all kinds of inspiration and hard skills at Maker Faire New York 2017.

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This Week in Making: Visit World Maker Faire New York, Make a Smarter Home, and More

This week, we travelled to New York for World Maker Faire. Be sure to catch up on all the exhibits via our live blog and live stream.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Arduino Widens Wireless Offerings With Two New Boards

Today at World Maker Faire New York, Massimo Banzi took stage to unveil two new Arduino boards, the long-range radio (LoRa)-equipped MKR WAN 1300 and the cellular-capable MKR GSM 1400. 

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Dremel Announces 40 Watt Laser Cutter

Dremel enters the laser cutter market with very nice looking machine.

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Josef Prusa Announces New Prusa i3 MK3 at Maker Faire New York

Prusa Research has launched their new 3D printer the MK3 at Maker Faire New York and we have a review of an early unit.

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Slinging Pies: The Winner of Our 2016 Maker Faire Pizza Oven Giveaway Checks In

For anyone who dares to try making it, pizza is more than food. It’s a time-honored quest that promises challenge and frustration and, most importantly, a sense of delight that transcends bodily nourishment. Building my own outdoor brick pizza oven was a fun and fitting way to start a journey […]

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Live Updates from Maker Faire New York

Not in New York for Maker Faire? Check back here often for live updates from the ground as we rove the fairegrounds in search of robots, sawdust, bubbles, fire, and magic. SATURDAY: It is early and bright and breezy here in Queens as Maker Faire kicks off. Gates open at 10am, […]

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Friday, 22 September 2017

Tips of the Week: Epoxy Palettes, Magnets in the Shop, Making Your Own Solder Flux

A fine week of solder, glue, flux, and paint tips. And how to use magnets in the shop.

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More Computer Science isn’t the Answer

Whenever we encounter some exciting new technology, the first question we ask ourselves is how do we use this to make the world a better place?

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Makers Lend a Hand in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey and Prep for Maker Faire Houston

Houston's first fully featured Faire takes place next month on October 22 and 23, with a special emphasis on humanitarian aid for hurricane victims.

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Can’t Make it to Maker Faire New York? Don’t Miss Our Live Stream!

If you're not in New York, you can still get the Maker Faire experience by tuning in to our live stream on YouTube!

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The Man Who Makes Lightning on Demand

Electrical engineer Greg Leyh is no stranger to high voltage. He invites it, measures it, and controls it.

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Designing an Adorable Robot and Killing It on Stage to Teach Empathy

How do you teach someone empathy with a life-less robot? It's easy, you just build something cute and then kill it.

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Understanding Gas Pump Credit Card Skimmers

SparkFun teams with law enforcement to better understand gas station skimmers and to take evasive action.

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These Robotic Friends Teach Kids How to Code

Wonder Workshops' robots Dot and Cue are both valuable tools for teaching aspiring programmers how to code.

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Three Women Making Waves on the Colorado Maker Scene

These three women have all had a large impact on their respective maker communities. Meet them all at Maker Faire Denver.

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Edible Innovations: 6 More Food Makers Coming to Maker Faire New York

Here are six more food makers and maker pros that you have to meet if you are going to World Maker Faire New York.

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Strictly Analog | Developing a Gaming Program at your Library

by Kristy Bowen

Gaming and libraries are often a perfect match.  As community gathering spots, libraries offer ample opportunities for members to come together, both for social interaction and intellectual stimulation.  Resources and collections fill a great supporting role for games like trivia nights and scavenger hunts.   In addition, collections of circulating games, be they analog or digital, can be quite popular, and offer users access to materials they might not have at home.  Analog gaming, which requires little in the way of expensive equipment and gaming modules, is a great way to get a lot of programming mileage out of very little money.

Building a Collection of Games

If your library is able to purchase games as a part of your collection development, you are at a distinct advantage.  There are, however, other ways to build a collection of games that don’t require a lot of financial investment.

Consider a donation drive.  Many people have rarely played and barely used game sets sitting around at home.  Ideally they will be completely intact with all parts and pieces included.  If you are, in fact, missing any valuable components, it’s an excellent chance to make creative new ones, either by hand or with a 3-D printer.  Cards and play money can always be reprinted and laminated if needed.

Thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales are also an excellent place to pick up board games at a steal and usually have a wide selection of newer and classic games to fill out a collection (sometimes still wrapped in the plastic they came in.)

If you’re wondering where to start, you can begin with some of the classics (checkers, chess, Monopoly, Uno, Yahtzee) and then pick up newer and trendy/ popular games as user interest warrants.

Inexpensive & Creative Programming Ideas

Board, Card, & Tabletop Game Nights

Each semester, The CCC Library kicks off the semester with an Old School Board Game Night that gives students, new and old, a chance to mingle and play games they are most likely somewhat familiar with.  You can also organize events around a single game or subject matter, ie. an event featuring different types of Monopoly games with various pop culture themes, or a tournament devoted to word games (Scrabble, Boggle, Scattergories).  The community gathering aspect also works well for card and role playing games like Magic:  The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, particularly since these types of games often have avid and passionate fans that the library can help bring together.

Trivia Nights

Across the country, trivia nights in bars, cafes, and other venues are booming. On any given night in any city, you can find a venue perfect for fine tuning and displaying your wealth of knowledge general (pop culture, science, history) and incredibly specific (The Simpsons, The Walking Dead) Libraries, as centers of information and resources, are the perfect place for the creation and implementation of trivia programming.    Columbia College Library’s Gaming Society regularly hosts trivia nights in a variety of focus areas, (horror films, 80’s teen movies) as well as more general specialty areas (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). 

Consider your audience and what may be a popular topic. In an academic library like Columbia, you can also work with interest groups on campus and specific classes to develop and participate in trivia areas of expertise.   For example, a French Revolution class could host a trivia bowl in the library to test their knowledge against the general campus community to prepare for an exam.  You could also pit faculty and students against each other in a variety of subject areas. 

You can either garner questions from existing trivia games you may have access to or find questions online (or even better, develop your own questions in areas you or your staff are familiar with). Once you have your subject matter, decide whether your game will be individuals or teams?  How many rounds and categories?  What will determine the winner?

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger Hunts are a perfect way to get users exploring the library and what it has to offer.  Clues and paths can be wrought among the libraries physical and electronic resources and are an excellent way to get patrons exploring what you have to offer.   Scavenger hunts are often a great idea for new library users to get used to using the online catalog, databases, and build familiarity with whatever classification system you use.  The hunts themselves can be as simple or as complicated as needed, employing simple trivia (where the clues are straight forward) or advanced puzzles and games that allow patrons to work together or alone to solve the hunt.  Such hunts are also great team building and socialization opportunities perfect for orientations and the beginning of the term.  The Columbia Library’s ARTCACHE (co-sponsored with the Aesthetics of Research initiative) is an art exhibit and scavenger hunt rolled into one, where participants use a set of clues and trivia questions to find the hidden interactive exhibit.   In the Fall of 2016, the library hosted a Search for the Sorcerer’s Stone, a Harry Potter hunt that featured games and puzzles that had to be solved to find the coveted stone.  

Murder Mysteries

Murder mystery events are a fun and creative way to highlight library spaces and resources, as well as create interesting and memorable experiences for users.  There are many approaches to hosting a mystery, some as simple as purchasing a pre-made “Mystery in a Box” set, some as complex as creating your own custom mystery from scratch.  Instructions for creating your own custom event can also be found online with a little googling.

There are also a multitude of ways to play.  In some, patrons move through the game based on strategically placed clues to solve the mystery.  Others are even more interactive, with participants taking on the part of characters and acting out roles.  You can set up the mystery in any way you prefer—singles or teams, as well as determine how tricky your mystery is to solve—red herrings, false leads, etc.

Such mysteries are an excellent chance to get library users comfortable and familiar with your spaces, as well as your databases and other resources.  The CCC Library has hosted mysteries that involved clue locations that had to be determined by using the catalog or finding specific pieces of information (or specific locales in the library) to proceed.

Themes can also be great fun.  Last spring, we incorporated a baking themed mystery game (The Bundt Cake Bump-Off) into our annual Edible Books event (whose theme itself was “Mysteries”).  This year, we hosted an 80’s Horror Themed Prom Mystery and featured costumes, 80’s Music, and a murdered prom queen.  

Promotion and Prizes

The CCC Library Gaming Society has done a number of promotions that have had great impact.  The Society, initially called “The Gaming Committee” when it was started in 2013, eventually became the “Gaming Society”, a name which invites “members” (ie. all interested persons) to help coordinate and facilitate the events they are interested in seeing happen.

We have also had dynamic partnerships with other entities on campus, most notably the college’s Harry Potter Club, The Muggles, who have collaborated with us on several events related to Harry Potter and other fandoms. In the Fall of 2016, The Gaming Society, co-sponsored GAME ON:  A Miscellany of Tabletop, Board and Card Game Art, and exhibit which featured game related visual art on the Library’s 1st & 2nd floor. 

This fall, we are implementing a ticket incentive, where both attendance and winning at gaming events will furnish players with arcade style tickets that can be redeemed for prizes of varying sizes throughout the semester. We are also hosting our first every GOOGLE BOWL, a sort of trivia game in reverse, that will land in various spots on campus throughout the semester and offer more chances to win tickets.

Our prizes for gaming events have won the gamut from simple ready-made items like prize baskets of treats to items made in the library using our Maker Lab equipment and other supplies–a creepy doll head trophy plaque for Horror Movie Trivia Night, a customized letter opener (the murder weapon) for the Horror Prom, 3-D Printed Game of Thrones Objects, a themed coloring book for Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia night. There are also plenty of other ideas that can happen with a little bit more funding—new game giveaways, gift certificates to game stores (brick & mortar or online), Amazon gift cards, etc.

But whatever resources you are working with, with a bit of ingenuity, you can create a thriving and popular gaming series at your library.

A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is an Access Services Assistant at Columbia College Chicago Library and Co-Curator of The Aesthetics of Research,  an ongoing project dedicated to exploring the role that libraries and their collections play in artistic process, creative community building, and resource-sharing in the arts.



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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Maker Spotlight: Elizabeth Kruger

Inspired by what she witnessed at Anime Milwaukee in 2013, Elizabeth Kruger has taken up cosplay to express her creative side.

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Join Adafruit’s Discord Channel Now To Organize Your Trip To Maker Faire New York

Adafruit's Discord channel can help you collaborate during maker faire weekend

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Fill Your New York Maker Faire Weekend With More Wonderful Events

There's a non-stop flow of events to check out after Maker Faire!

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Maker Faire Milwaukee Attempts to Set World Record for Largest Gathering of Daleks

never before have so many Daleks come to one place to EXTERMINTE!

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Culinary Arts Programming at the Johnson County (KS) Library

By Bryan Voell

Curious about the intersection between the culinary arts and the library? Look no further than Johnson County (KS) Library’s An Edible Discussion program series. Launched in 2014 by Information Specialist Caitlin Perkins at JCL’s Corinth Library branch, this unique monthly series has only grown in popularity over the last three years, bringing local chefs, business owners, culinary experts and dietitians (not to mention lots of food) to the library to the delight of many patrons. Caitlin Perkins was kind enough to provide some background and insights into these delicious programs. Enjoy!

*

Give us your elevator speech about An Edible Discussion. What is it and what are the mission, vision and goal(s)?

An Edible Discussion is a monthly food program that focuses on a different food or genre every month, such as Paleo, breakfast foods, Mexican, chocolate, etc. The program is a community potluck where everyone attending brings a dish that is in line with that month’s theme. Patrons are provided with a variety of cookbooks in the month leading up to the event and encouraged to experiment with recipes in their own kitchen. The other component of the program is an educational element where we feature a guest speaker who is an expert in that month’s theme. These speakers can be local restaurant or business owners, chefs, certified experts, dietitians, and so on.

The goals of this event are to bring together people in the community who have similar interests, to promote local businesses, and to educate about a variety of every changing topics within the realm of food. Food is a great equalizer and a wonderful way to pull people of variant backgrounds together as one.

Tell us how An Edible Discussion originated. What were the challenges to bringing such a program to the Corinth Library?

The idea sparked from a program run in Lawrence. I can’t remember the specifics of that program any more (I read about it in some article at that time), or even if it was a one-off or a monthly, but it involved food, cookbooks, and a speaker and I thought it was genius. I half-jokingly pitched my half-formed idea of a monthly program with different speakers and themes to (Adult Services Manager and former Corinth Manager) Kinsley Riggs and she (a fellow foodie) supported it! While I was surprised, I quickly began forming a real design plan. Joseph Keehn (JCL Events Producer) was instrumental in getting the ball rolling and fielded the idea to a non-library focus group who helped form the official title.

The biggest challenge in the beginning was getting the word out to patrons. I drove around Prairie Village asking any business I thought might agree if they’d let me post a flier of the program. I was well received, but like any program, my attendance was low at first. Then I got a big break: Mary Pepitone, a writer for the Kansas City Star and Corinth patron, heard about the program and asked if she could feature me and the program in the Star. Of course I agreed and BAM! Literally overnight, the program grew. I had tons of patrons coming in asking about it and my attendance more than tripled. Now I have the opposite issue where the Corinth Meeting Room isn’t large enough some months, depending on the presenter/theme (both chocolate and tea brought in 50+ people).

The program also seemed really expensive at first when I had to order all the plates, bowls, cups, napkins, utensils, etc. Since I now only order when something is running low, there isn’t quite the sticker shock of ordering everything at once, and buying in bulk (now that we know the program will continue) also cuts down the cost.

Photos: An Edible Discussion at Johnson County (KS) Library’s Corinth Library

What are the ongoing challenges to running An Edible Discussion program?

The biggest continual issue is getting a monthly speaker and theme that will be both engaging and intriguing to the public. Sometimes I send out a bunch of invites and don’t hear anything back for months. I don’t want to extend too many feelers in case everyone eventually shows interest, but I also can’t wait forever in the hopes that they’re just slow to respond to emails. Sometimes I have someone who actually seeks me out (which is awesome), but it’s on a theme we’ve already done (sometimes we’ve already done it twice even!). In that case, it becomes a game of finding a related topic that’s different but that the speaker still feels comfortable speaking on and will properly highlight their restaurant/business/specialty. It takes a lot of time and thought to continually solicit new speakers who will come for free.  

What new partnerships were created with An Edible Discussion, either with organizations or individual community members?

Well, I think we’ve had around 40 speakers come now, so that’s 40 organizations that we’ve been able to promote and who’ve had a positive experience with the library. I love when a presenter tells me at the end of the evening that they’ve had a great time and would love to do this again, either with the same topic or a different topic. To me, that’s the ultimate win.

I’ve also seen friendships bloom among habitual attendees. I know of two gals who are now great friends (and who come to other programs together now too) who first met at An Edible Discussion. There is a brother-sister duo who have been coming for years and shortly after that started attending, they told me this has rekindled their relationship. They plan ahead of time what they’ll make and they do a test run beforehand. This gives them an activity together and a date night, plus then coming to the program together as an additional event together. These wonderful feel-good stories from the program are numerous. We have a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law duo who also use this as a bonding activity, countless husband and wife duos who cook together, and we’ve even had a few kids come with a parent, proud of whatever dish they’ve made. I’m always touched and amazed by the heart that people put into their food and the joy they get from sharing it with strangers.

What advice do you have for other libraries thinking about doing a similar program?

Gauge your community and the level of food interest. Restaurants or businesses that aren’t chains make for more interesting speakers, so a wide range of speaker options is important. Spreading the word about the program may take time, but word of mouth has been crucial to An Edible Discussion’s success at Corinth. Talk, talk, talk about the event with as many patrons as you can. If you see that someone is checking out a cookbook, mention to them the fun monthly program we feature, and the theme for this month. And don’t be afraid to go out into the community when seeking out new speakers. It’s often easier to talk to someone in person and on their own turf about the program than it is to describe all the details in email. I’ve noticed that meeting face to face also makes the program more personal and I’m often more successful recruiting a speaker this way. Oh, and lastly, personability with those attending is key. Make them feel welcome, try to remember the regulars by name, and always reiterate that bringing a dish is not required and that all are encouraged to eat, with or without a food contribution. ALL are welcome!

Bryan Voell is currently the Local Arts Librarian for the Johnson County (KS) Library. He received his MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and has worked for public, academic, and research libraries in various capacities since 1997. He is also a collage artist and you can see more of his art here.



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Learn the Basics of JavaScript with MakeCode

Without a doubt, one of the most valuable skills in our modern day world is being able to program. One of the best teachers is MakeCode.

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Making Your Own Solar Cells from Powdered Donuts?

Make a photovoltaic solar cell using common household items... and donuts!

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Get a Raspberry Pi and a Trip to Vegas With Our Z-Wave Smart Home Maker Challenge

Make: and Sigma Designs want to see what the maker community can do with Sigma's open source Z-Wave technology.

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Maker Pro News: Maker Health at Maker Faire, Pebble Founder’s Comeback, and More

Prior to World Maker Faire New York, you will want to take a look at these maker pros and what they've been up to. Some will be at the Faire.

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Edible Innovations: 7 Food Makers Coming to Maker Faire New York

You'll want to check out these seven food makers at 2017's World Maker Faire New York. Each will be bringing their projects to the Faire.

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Quick Tip: Make a Guitar Practice Amp for Under $35

Turn a guitar headphone amp and a vibration speaker into a decent practice amp.

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Register Today for the Make: Education Forum

Join us on Friday, September 22, for the third annual Make: Education Forum in New York.

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Math Monday: Marble Machines

Math inspiration can come from anywhere

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See a Light Show at Grand Central Station Celebrating Women in STEM

“Unseen Stars,” a light show celebrating women in STEM, will be projected onto the ceiling of Grand Central Station from September 19-21.

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Draw Abstract Art with a Random Number Generator

This number generator squiggles the numbers it produces as a flurry of random lines in an artistic interpretation of abstract art.

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Sunday, 17 September 2017

This Week in Making: Combat Arthropod, DIY Standing Desk, and Maker Share

This week, check out these combat ready robots, build your own standing desk, and create your Maker Share account (if you haven't already).

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#IArtLibraries | Book Dominoes at New Lynn War Memorial Library

This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in October 2013.

Today we feature a super-cool, super-fun young adult program sent to us by Rachel Widerstrom, a librarian at the Auckland (NZ) Libraries’ New Lynn War Memorial Library branch. The Book Domino program was inspired by a challenge put to New Zealand librarians by education/programming consultant Matt Finch (you remember him, from the fantastic Zombies in the Library program!). Everyone at the New Lynn War Memorial Library took the idea and ran with it, from the library administrator to the young adults who made it all happen. Read on for details and lots of fun photos and video of the event. ~ Laura

by Rachel Widerstrom

New Lynn War Memorial Library in Auckland, New Zealand.

New Lynn War Memorial Library in Auckland, New Zealand.

I’m Children’s and Youth Librarian at New Lynn, with a background in the performing arts. When our teens started asking what they’d be doing for the school holidays, I thought the book domino challenge would be perfect. Our Learning Centre Coordinator Nathan Grange is a talented amateur filmmaker, so he took charge of recording the activity, while over about 6 sessions and 8 hours a dozen teens and staff members created an epic book domino running through our beautiful library.

This was a great opportunity to showcase the skills of both staff and library users, as well as developing relationships, trust, and respect with local teens.

The teenagers really enjoyed being a bit ‘special’ in the library – they were allowed in the workroom, lunchroom etc and in the library after hours, and I would give them my swipe card to allow them to move around and complete the set-up as needed. They learned library routines and would get the stored books from the lunchroom, and put them back after.

There was fun, laughter, silliness, and lots of great moments of books falling when they shouldn’t and having to be reset. We did one session without Nathan and the kids took even more control over the shot/how the books would be set-up.

My manager Mary was hugely supportive and said that she was keen to build relationships with our teen customers, draw out the hidden skills of our staff, and ‘put New Lynn Library on the map’. Our local high schools are not that geographically convenient to the library, so while we have good relationships with them we would love to see more students coming into the library. This adventure made a name for our branch with the schools and Auckland Libraries, got the teens sharing the video on social media, and generally helped people to notice that New Lynn Library exists and is awesome! It was a real breakthrough that the teens actually felt they were doing something in the library that was cool and fun, and valued by both the manager and the staff.

At the end of the session Matt Finch rewarded our efforts with a cake. We invited the hard-working teens into our staff room to share the prize with us.

bookdominoes5

This is only the beginning for us – we’re looking forward to taking these relationships further and really developing the teens’ own filmmaking skills next time, too.

Matt Finch, whose Book Domino challenge inspired this program, has more ideas and resources that librarians and other educators can use at his website, Books Adventures



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Friday, 15 September 2017

Tips of the Week: Bigger Bar Clamps, Lighting Your Safety Glasses, Lego Cable Holders

A week of wildly diverse tips miscellany, from DIY bar clamps to hurricane battery hacks to quick n' creepy Halloween ghosts.

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Open World: A Conversation with Will Holman of Open Works

Trained as an architect at Virginia Tech, Will Holman has gone on to work in several tech environments and found the Open Works makerspace.

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Maker Spotlight: The Kratz-Gullickson Family

Jason, Jamie, and Liberty Kratz-Gullickson are a family of makers that each specialize in different fields.

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Sublime Pleasures of the “Makecation”

Your humble author travels to his dining room table to indulge in his tabletop gaming obsession for ten days.

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Don’t Miss The Hangzhou Mini Maker Faire This Weekend

So much to see at Mini Maker Faire Hangzhou

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Grant Imahara and Mouser’s New Series Explores the Tech That’s Making Cities Smarter

One thing the Shaping Smarter Cities project has shown us is that innovation is happening all around us, possibly on the buses we ride, and even in the food we eat.

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Show Off Your Projects and Help Solve Problems on Maker Share

Maker Share exists to help makers tell their stories. It allows makers to share their ideas, successes, failures, and inspiration.

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Quick Tip: Use a Sticky Dash Mat to Hold Teardown Parts

These things are sold to hold your cell phone in the car, but they also work great for keeping parts (including plastic and other non-magnetic bits) organized when you're taking something apart.

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Edible Innovations: Using Drones for DIY Agricultural Monitoring Systems

Suman Ghimire is creating better agricultural yields in Nepal by flying drones with hacked cameras that can identify diseased plants.

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A Romance on Three Legs: The Ivory Archives

by Matt Finch

Is a library just a machine for communities to make knowledge? From books to 3D printers, telescopes, or musical instruments, today’s institutions host collections and programs which inspire and empower people to create their own understanding and their own responses to the universe of knowledge, culture, and experience.

Putting so much computing and communication power in the hands of ordinary people has shaped the role of knowledge organisations, but libraries of practical and even artistic research tools long predate the advent of today’s digital technology.

That’s why you need to hear the story of CD 318.

*

The eccentric pianist and broadcaster Glenn Gould remains one of the iconic figures of his native Canada. Renowned as an interpreter of Bach’s keyboard music, Gould was a spiky soul whose life zigged and zagged: a concert musician who retired from live performance at just thirty-one years old; a recluse who was nonetheless a prolific broadcaster; a figure whose international fame spilled far beyond that which one might expect for a classical musician.

One of the ways in which Gould’s eccentricity manifested itself was the fuss he made over the action of his piano keys and his sitting position at the instrument. Perched in a distinctive hunch on a chair specially constructed by his father, Gould developed a special attachment to one piano which seemed perfect and “translucent” to him: Steinway CD 318, built in New York in 1943.

Gould discovered his ideal instrument in January 1960, at Toronto’s Eaton Auditorium. From that date on, the piano was routinely shipped between Toronto and New York for use in concerts and recordings, and was Gould’s instrument of choice for virtually all of his Columbia recordings. 

One of Steinway’s most demanding clients, Gould made adjustments beyond factory specifications, always seeking the perfect action of the keys and the “harpsichordic” quality which he felt made it especially suited to the music of Bach. In 1973, as Steinway ended its practice of loaning pianos to high-profile artists, Gould purchased the beloved companion for just shy of six thousand dollars.

Although CD 318 served Gould for almost twenty years, crisis threatened from as early as 1971. On a return shipment from Cleveland, the piano’s crate was dropped, causing serious damage. The piano spent more than a year at the Steinway factory in New York, and from then on developed something of Gould’s own hypochondriac quality. The pianist’s private papers persistently refer to niggles and grumbles, from a “horrendous buzz” to an excessively heavy action. Throughout the 1970s, Gould would play on other Steinways and in June 1980, he confided in his diary, “I’m inclined to feel that 318 is a lost cause.”

*

You could call not just Gould’s relationship with the instrument, but Canada’s, a “romance on three legs” – that’s how Rosemary Thompson of the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa put it when I spoke to her last year. CD 318 currently sits on a pedestal in the mezzanine of the NAC’s largest hall.

Before CD 318 arrived there, however, its home was at LAC – Libraries and Archives Canada. At Canada’s national library, the piano was not only on public display, but available for use in performance. Canadian librarians had acquired Gould’s archive, including a substantial amount of realia plus the beloved Steinway Steinway, upon his death in 1982.

So what made librarians of thirty-five years ago think they needed to hear ivory in the archives?

Maureen Nevins is music archivist at LAC and supervised the transfer of the piano from the National Library of Canada to the National Art Centre in 2012. She is also custodian of the story of the piano’s original acquisition.

That begins with the National Library’s music archivist Dr Helmut Kallmann. The Berlin-born son of a lawyer and amateur musician, Kallmann fled to Britain in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport rescue mission. Interned on the Isle of Man and then in Canada, he became a naturalized Canadian in 1946 and by 1950 had joined the music library of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

On Gould’s death, Maureen explains, “Dr Kallmann contacted Dr. John Roberts, a long-time close friend and colleague of Gould, to express concern about the protection and disposition of Gould’s belongings.”

Kallmann, Roberts, and Gould knew each other through work at the CBC. During Kallmann’s twenty year stint at the Toronto broadcaster, Roberts had been a CBC producer in addition to heading up their department of Radio Music. 

These informal connections and networks led Roberts to ensure that Gould’s estate consider Canada’s National Library as the preferred cultural institution for Gould’s archives.

“The National Library of Canada held and preserved the largest collection of musical Canadiana including the archives of many prominent Canadian musicians,” Maureen says. 

“Of particular concern was that the Steinway CD 318 piano, because of its specially adapted action and mechanism, be kept in active and playing order, to be available to researchers and scholars studying the technique of Gould. This would only be possible if the instrument on which he made both practice tapes and final recordings was in the same location as his archives. The piano was an integral research tool, because of its special modifications.”

The library acquisition was not just about saving the object to cherish and preserve it, but specifically to allow musicians to recreate the experience, texture, and technique of Gould’s performances in the moment. 

This business of making knowledge, not just storing it, is vital to the piano’s place as an item in a modern library collection. The transfer of CD318 to the National Arts Centre was not just about deciding where a nation keeps and displays its heritage objects, but about cultural institutions collaborating across disciplinary divides to ensure that a historic instrument remains a machine for making new art, new performances, and new knowledge.

By 2012, LAC was looking for a new home for CD 318. There was a push to move objects into the community where possible, and staff were considering how to move such interesting items into spaces where more of the public could see them. With 1.2 million visitors a year, NAC was a better location for the public to come into contact with Gould’s material legacy. 

Rosemary Thompson of the National Arts Centre takes up the story.

“You could build a Smithsonian around this piano and chair. 318 has an almost mystical quality to it: Gould would take it with him on tour, he loved the touch so much. He always wanted to have full control of the sound. Every time we do a Glenn Gould event with that piano, everyone shows up.”

Thompson explained that Gould’s chair is actually worth more than the piano, and rarely put out on display as it is both unique and relatively easy to steal. Arrangements are being made to put both chair and piano on permanent secure display in the new NAC building.

That security doesn’t mean CD 318 will be reduced to sitting untouched under glass. Thompson explains that artists of the highest calibre will continue to play it at the the NAC, with acclaimed pianists “making a pilgrimmage” to play on the famous Steinway.

“Heritage is not a pillar of our strategic plan at the NAC,” Thompson admits, “but we recognise the power of iconography and the need to honour artists. We’re not a museum, but CD 318 is in a specific space. If we can do something for artists who have done a lot for us, like Gould, we will.”

The custodianship of CD 318 honours not just a unique personality and his achievements, but also an attitude to the past and to music which is about process, not just product; which is about moving forward, not just preserving the past. The piano is not just a sentimental object but a research object, and this attitude chimes with the work of Gould’s latter years, when he devoted increasing amounts of time to “polyphonic documentaries” for the CBC. 

Gould’s broadcasts wove together interviews and ambient sound, creating immersive stories that captured a sense of place and history. Such works echo the latest innovations in using audio multimedia within libraries, such as Chris Gaul‘s Library Frequency Tuner:

Library Frequency Tuner from Chris Gaul on Vimeo.

In 1980s Canada, a piano could already be seen as a valuable working research instrument within a library. Nearly forty years later, as work like Gaul’s approaches the polyphony of Gould’s later work, should we be looking at directly linking music technology to our collections?

 



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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Explore Lenz’s Law with Gravity-Defying Magnet Tricks

Wow your friends with this simple to pull trick. Using the first law of thermodynamics, make it seem like you can magically defy gravity.

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Turning a Realistic Harry Potter Wand on a Wood Lathe

Don't be afraid to try new things. A magic wand, from Harry Potter, is a good starter project for using a wood lathe.

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Maker Spotlight: Sam Laturi

Although he enjoys dabbling in laser cutters, electronics, clay, and robotics, Sam Laturi's true passions lie in metalworking.

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Edible Innovations: Redirecting Wine Byproducts into Plant Based Leather

In an effort to combat the growing food waste problem, Vegea is using the byproduct of the wine creation process to make custom leather.

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#IArtLibraries | Featuring: Brian P. Hall

This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in October, 2011.

Brian P. Hall received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his fiction and essays have appeared in the Palo Alto Review, Lullwater Review, The G.W Review, Exquisite Corpse, Shadowbox, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

How do you identify yourself as an artist (e.g., writer, poet, painter, playwright, mixed media, illustration, etc.) and what kind of work do you do?

Fiction and creative nonfiction.

What is/has been your relationship to libraries?

As a writer who relies on the works of others for inspiration, my relationship to libraries is essential, so we–libraries and I–are allies, working together for the creative good.

Have libraries informed or inspired your work, and if so, how?

Yes. This is a difficult question to answer because I’m an intellectual grazer. At a library I will walk around the stacks and pull books to read or skim. Sometimes then, I find inspiration in a passage. Sometimes a picture in an art collection. Sometimes the ramblings of a homeless man in front of the library could influence something I’m working on. It is a complete experience.

What specific libraries have played a role in your work? Are there things about these libraries (staff, spaces, collections, programs, etc.) that stand out to you as particularly useful or inspiring?

Two main things: 1) art: I love looking at collections, especially photographs; 2) work spaces with a) a lot of natural light b) an outlet for my computer c) wifi that allows me to access the resources the library may offer (such as access to any digitized collections).

What resources do you use in your library?

Reference materials. Research databases. These are the two I use most often

How do you find out about resources, events, or services at your library?

Website.

What can libraries do to serve artists?

Continue to have spaces mentioned with light, plugs, and wifi, and have private spaces or rooms to use as creative playgrounds or sandboxes or whatever you want to call them. When I write, I’m extemely visual. If there is a place with dry erase walls or boards to map ideas, I would stay at the library longer.

As an artist, what would your ideal library look or be like?

A combination of the things I’ve mentioned that could serve artists, plus an area that highlights local artists’ work.

What does the phrase “library as incubator” mean to you?

A place to mature ideas.

 

Click to view entire work


All images and content in this feature are copyright of the featured artist.



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Monday, 11 September 2017

3D Print and Explore the World’s Oldest Known Lock

Get hands-on with history by 3D printing a copy of an Assyrian pin lock.

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The Garbage Art and DIY Instruments of a Swamp Yankee

Ever heard of a swamp yankee? Matt Lorenz is a countrified northerner with a knack for drawing music and art out of piles of garbage.

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