Thursday, 20 July 2017

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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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Making Your Own Custom Shortcut Keyboard

Create a custom 3D printed shortcut keyboard for design and other complex programs you work in.

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Ancient Culture + Latest Tech = Maker Faire Xi’an

This weekend the city of Xi'an will become home to the first ever Maker Faire Xi'an, where thousands of years of making will meet and greet the Maker Movement.

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Transforming a Game Boy Camera into a Tool for Astrophotography

Alex Pietrow customized a Nintendo Game Boy Advance's camera so that it could take pictures of celestial objects.

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PAGES TO PROJECTS: Color Tamer Face Drawing

This post originally appeared on the LAIP in July 2017.

In a place where colors ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still. Her name was Swatch, and she was a color tamer. She was small, but she was not afraid.

Swatch The Girl Who Loved Color + Face Painting Fun

by Rebecca Dunn

Open Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos (public library) and experience a stampede of color.  Young Swatch is a collector. Like most kids who are passionate about collecting, they try the best they can to accumulate as much of their desired object as possible. But unlike most kids, Swatch collects colors. She’s a color tamer who enthusiastically plucks, nets, tames, and traps an array of every color she comes across. When she calls out their name “Bravest Green,” “Just Laid Blue,” and “Rumble-Tumble Pink” the colors come to her and she bottles them up to be added to the rainbow of colors already captured.

IMG_1023

But one day, instead of calling out the name of “Yellowest Yellow,” a coveted shade, she asks the color instead of calling it to her. “Yellowest yellow…would you like to climb into this jar?” The shade politely declines.  Instead of plucking it up nonetheless, Swatch leaves it be, and something spectacular happens.

Swatch the Girl Who Loved Color

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color is not only visually stunning, but the story stars a strong, courageous female character–we can never ever have enough strong female characters in books for young children–and demonstrates what happens when we let go and allow creativity to flourish.

Swatch the Girl Who Loved Color 1

Color Tamer Face Drawing

Throughout the story, Swatch seems to always have paint on her face (as a true color tamer should!) and since face painting isn’t necessarily the most realistic option for most libraries, adapt this concept into a Swatch-style face drawing sessions with washable markers. Kids will be able to explore coloring on a canvas they’re very familiar with, their own faces!

MATERIALS

  • Mirrors
  • Washable markers in a variety of colors
  • Baby wipes

To start, have mirrors set up so kids can easily see themselves: hand mirrors, cosmetic mirrors–whatever works best for the size and age of your storytime group. A dollar store near you will have a variety of inexpensive options if you don’t already have mirrors on hand. After reading Swatch, prompt children to be their own color tamers and have fun drawing on their very own faces. There will be shock, laughter, and maybe even a bit of apprehension from the audience when you explain their post-storytime project, but it will surely be one they’ll enjoy and remember. Prompt them to draw designs or a favorite animal or whatever seems to spark their interest that day. There is no wrong or right when it comes to color taming.

IMG_2585

IMG_2593

IMG_2597

Keep baby wipes on hand for easy, breezy color removal afterwards if the kids or their caregiver don’t want to leave the library with a rainbow forehead. If you’re nervous about kids drawing on faces, try making this Color Tamer Mask instead. If you do happen to try this out, be sure to have a camera on hand to capture the wide-grinning smiles.

For similar ideas, be sure to check out Read Sing Play’s hilarious baby storytime where she prompts caregivers to draw eyebrows and mustaches on their children’s faces in Eyebrows, Mustaches, Oh My!. For more Swatch specific activities, coloring sheets, an interview with author Julia Denos, and behind the scenes making of the book, hop on over to All The Wonders.

This post was adapted for Library as Incubator Project from a post featured on Sturdy for Common Things in May 2016.

Want More?

If you’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s projects or have used her storytime plans at your library, we’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments or on social media!

 

IMG_2347Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a children’s librarian and a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.  When she’s not having fun at the library or wrangling her own kiddos, she can be found at her blog home, Sturdy for Common Things.



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Hack Your Car into the Future with an LED Heads-Up Display

This LED heads-up display is a simple modification for your car, but it makes your car look very futuristic.

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Abstract Painter Builds Clever Machines to Deposit Paint

Toronto-based painter Callen Schaub collaborates with the machines he makes to create process-based paintings.

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Cultivating a Neighborhood Garden as a Community Organizing Hub

Bottom's Up Community Garden in West Oakland, California, has become a jumping off point for strengthening community, organizing events, and DIY living.

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Maker Pro News: Inside the Accelerator, Maker Pros in the Workforce, and More

This week, maker pros, like Make in LA, work with other creators to ensure Kickstarters are successful and makers excel in the workplace.

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Edible Innovations: Designing and Prototyping Waste Conscious Dishware

Sally Ng designed Progress Ware to help people become more conscious of unhealthy over-eating or creating excess food waste.

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Monday, 10 July 2017

Making Mallets as Shop Buddy Gifts

Give the gift of mechanical persuasion to a friend with a homemade shop mallet.

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Maker Spotlight: Chunlin Guan (Dolphin Guan)

Dolphin Guan likes creating cute animals with intelligent personalities and creating outfits that combine electronics and fashion.

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Math Monday: Remembering Magnus Wenninger

Making paper models since the 1950s

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Twist Fabric Scraps into Colorful Twine

Upcycle your fabric scraps and offcuts, and make a colorful alternative to rope and cord for your future weaving and craft activities.

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MakeItGo Is a Global Party Game for Makerspaces

MakeItGo is a collaborative game that brings different makerspaces together to create an iterative project.

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

This Week in Making: Sneak Peek of Volume 58, First Maker Share Mission, and More

This week, get a sneak peek at Volume 58, respond to Maker Share's first Mission, play Tetris while soldering, or see some amazing cosplay.

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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Weekend Watch: Exploring Science with Samatha Kranthijanya

Although she's young, Samatha has tackled several difficult concepts and created advanced science projects on her YouTube channel.

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Friday, 7 July 2017

Tips of the Week: Tool Layout, Parachute Bags, Glove-Love, and Bendy Sticks

Organizing and carrying your tools and materials, drawing quick curves, and bit sharpening.

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Step inside a modern educator’s dream come true, visit a local Maker Faire.

It’s well known in the maker community that Maker Faires are an exciting way to grab a sneak peak into what is new and exciting in the minds of tinkerers. While these faires have been going on worldwide for several years, there is incredible value add for teachers looking to […]

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Invent a Speech Aid to Help Malia Communicate

Malia is a bright, smiley 11 year old. But cerebral palsy makes it hard for others to understand her. Can you invent a speech aid to help?

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Mission Possible: Solving Problems and Realizing Goals Through Open Communities

Makers explore and experiment; they create and innovate. Many projects come from a personal interest or passion, but become something else.

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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Easy Casting of Small Model Parts and Miniatures with Blue Stuff

Using a water-reactive thermoplastic to create molds for casting small parts for scale modeling and miniature gaming.

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Use Raspberry Pi for a Modern Day Telegraph

With a button, a buzzer, and a Raspberry Pi Zero W, you can construct your own telegraph and trade secret messages in Morse code.

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The Tiny House Festival at Lawrence Public Library

Last fall, some colleagues of mine at the Madison Public Library put together a housing resource fair to extend on themes discussed in Matthew Desmond’s book, Evicted, which was the Go Big Read book for the UW-Madison and wider Madison community. One of the coolest things they highlighted during the resource fair was a Tiny House that parked outside of the library for tours and Q&A, so when I saw the announcement about a whole festival dedicated to Tiny Houses at the Lawrence Public Library, I knew I needed to learn more.

Today Melissa shares info about the festival, and tips for those looking to do similar programming around these trendy little residences–they bring up a lot of good questions on everything from zoning laws to sustainability.

The tiny house parked outside of the library. Image provided by Melissa Fisher Isaacs.

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): What was the impetus for launching the Tiny House Festival?

Melissa Fisher Isaacs (MFI): Affordable housing has become an increasingly pressing issue in our community: Over 50% of renters in Douglas County, Kansas, spend more than 30% of their income on housing, as do around one-fourth of homeowners.  At the same time, Lawrence is a progressive community; many residents care deeply about sustainability and community involvement. Ours is also a quirky, creative community that supports thinking outside of the box. Particularly with the Summer Reading theme being “Build a Better World,” a tiny house festival seemed like a perfect vehicle for a meaningful discussion about issues that are important to our community. And indeed, the response from the community was enthusiastic.

LAIP: What sort of programs/activities were part of the Tiny House Festival? 

MFI: The Tiny House Festival featured the opportunity to tour a tiny house (here is a video of the house) built by the Veterans Community Project, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that is creating a tiny house community for homeless veterans. We also hosted a panel discussion around the issues of affordable housing, homelessness, sustainability, and how tiny houses can fit into those issues. Also, two planners from our city planning department laid out what’s currently legal, what’s not, and offered tips for getting involved in shaping code so that it reflects our community’s values. 

LAIP: Can you give us some tips for other libraries looking to put together something similar with their communities?

MFI: The biggest challenge I had in planning this event was finding someone who was willing and able to bring a tiny house–I’m deeply grateful to Kevin Jamison of the Veterans Community Project for his unhesitating willingness to share his house with us. Start planning early, and cast your net wide! Also, the participation from our city’s planning department was really important, because many of the audience questions revolved around what’s doable, what’s not, and how to navigate the building permit process. 

LAIP: Are there plans for future festivals like this one, on the topic of Tiny Houses or something different?

MFI: We’ve got other festival ideas in the hopper, but nothing currently in the works! 

Check out this video about the tiny house community for homeless veterans, developed by the Veterans Community Project:



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Edible Innovations: Honing in the Science of Preserving Fresh Food

Mike Annunziata and Vipul Saran, a man fascinated by potatoes, came together to make a more effective way to preserve food.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I fought a Snorlax and other Pokemon Go updates


It has been a year since Pokemon Go first took the world by storm. The question...who is still playing? Well at level 34 and counting, I'm still all in.  I need over 1 million XP to get to level 35. It will take me MONTHS. I was pretty excited to see what the anniversary had in store. I was hoping for trading as I have promised many kids to come in. I was going to do raffles to unload some my Gyaradoses onto them. It takes 400 Magikarp candies to make one Gyarados so they are highly coveted. They are taking up my inventory but I worked so hard on them I don't want to just grind them up for candies!

Niantic focused on revamping the gym system, which are now Pokestops to spin as well. Gone are the days where I would find a few out of the way gyms, stay in it for WEEKS, and just collect poke coins. It actually isn't worth being in multiple gyms anymore. As long as your Pokemon stays in a gym for one hour per day, you earn a max of 50 Pokecoins (10 coins per minute) and even if any of the other Pokemon in different gyms are returned in the same day or stays in a gym all day, you won't collect any more coins. Pokemon in gyms will lose their CP (hit points) the longer they are left in the gym unfed and battled. Anyone from your color team can feed your Pokemon berries, pineapples or bananas, so it doesn't have to be you in person hanging out near the gym. They do get sick of eating just one thing so keep all varieties. You could be in the middle of battle and someone starts to feed them berries therby erasing all YOUR work.   Not to mention, if you put something 3000 CP or above, they lose their health quicker if not give raspberries.  So there are pros and cons. I feel like they were trying to get the players that haven't been as die hard as I am a chance to come back to the game without penalty.

Everyday you are entitled to one RAID pass, which allows you to fight alone or in a team (any team), a rare Pokemon. The raids occur randomly throughout the gyms and you have an hour to battle once the Pokemon is revealed.   It looks like an egg with a countdown timer until it runs out. Once you log into an area with a raid battle, it will notify you in the top of your screen.

This means that people who have been waiting for their chance to get a Snorlax or Tyranitar have come especially if you can go somewhere like the Boston Common where there are multiple gyms within eyesight. The Pokemon that are available during raids will change but right now I've seen Muk, Flareon, Typhlosion, Electrabuzz, Magikarp (yes they might be a rare gold one), Tyranitar, Snorlax, and Magmar. I battled one Snorlax over by Simmons College with 8 other people.  It was a 4 rated monster battle, which you can see right the rating between the egg and the timer. There was no way I could have done it alone. Once you decide to battle, you have 120 seconds to see if anyone else wants to join you. At level 35, I can fight a 2 rated monster by myself with 6 Pokemon around 2500 CP each but you also have to consider the time limit. Your Pokemon might have high CP but you can't defeat a monster like that in 160 seconds.  Once you have defeated the Pokemon, you have a certain number of special poke balls to catch it. The higher the monster rating, the harder it will be to catch so practice your EXCELLENT catches with the small red ring centers. One Snorlax was caught easily, one disappeared and I lost my one opportunity so far at a Tyranitar.  All the Pokemon caught are either strong or amazing Pokemon so they are well worth the effort with high CP and good move sets. In addition to getting a chance to catch the Pokemon, victorious battles give out rare candies (which can be exchanged to ANY regular candies for one Pokemon you have but never find like Chanseys), a TM or trainer's manual which allows you to change the move sets of your Pokemon, revives, and the coveted XP/Stardust so you can level your favorite battle Pokemon.  If you lose a raid, you have the option of going back in without another raid pass.  If you fail to catch the Pokemon after battle however, you do not get another chance until you find another raid.

I really haven't seen too many people playing lately but once you hit a raid spot, it is hard to miss. I love that all the teams can come together to battle. It isn't just a "Oh are you team red?" The gyms themselves still can only be taken by one color but it is a nice touch to cooperate on these big battles. 

For librarians who have gyms in their local area, it might be nice to post on Facebook or other social media when a raid is happening and what Pokemon it is. You have to have an account to log in periodically to check for a raid. You only have an hour to notify anyone so it couldn't be something to set up well in advance. There are also huge events going on in major cities. The first Pokefest is going on in Chicago. Rumor has it that they might reveal Legendary Pokemon which have not been released yet. Each team color has a special legendary Pokemon. They have only been glimpsed on their team insignia thus far.  It would be amazing for the library to have a presence there. Tickets  sold out in hours of the posting of the event but even if a library had a booth near the park you would see hundreds of new faces!

If you have an account and have off desk flexibility, advertise yourself as being able to help with raids.  For example, since I'm such a high level I could REALLY help out another player and I can reach the gym from our picture book area. And who wouldn't want to play Pokemon during work hours?It's creative customer service and a raid can be under 5 minutes long with battle wait time.






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