Monday, July 29, 2013

Maker Monday :: Grant's Geo Dome

This Maker Monday we are looking back, two summers back, to the year when Grant, Suki, Alex and Geoff went to Burning Man, and we all helped Grant finish his geodesic dome.

Making is even more fun with friends.

What are you making?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Congratulations Makers!

Maker Faire, Bay Area, 2012
Kellie and Michal, Eli, Geoff, James, William and Max
Natalie, Maria, Bambi and Alex, Suki, Isaac, and Cameron, and down front... Grant!

To the Maker Club, Love and Rockets, congratulations on your appearance on the Make Blog, Love and Rockets on a Road Trip to Maker Faire. Special shout out to our Young Makers and mentors :: Geoff, Natalie, William, Grant, Alex, Suki, Eli, Tatiana, Max, Maria, James, and George, and to our newest members, Amira, Janece, and Paul. Cheers for friends who came with us to Maker Faire, who met us there, who are going again. Thanks to our supporters... you that follow our blog, who came to our mini-mini Maker Faire and Lemonade sale. Thank you Michael and Patricia for holding down the farm, when we traveled last year. A special big thank you to Ron and Delia Lyons for traveling to FIRST events, for sponsoring robotics, art, lessons, supplies, lunches, and watching our chickens!

Seriously? asks the small, jaded voice in my head. This isn't a Pulitzer, you know. Heck, it's not even a Bloggie.

Yeah! Seriously. I want to bring everyone to a Maker Faire, and I want to learn how to solder, and I want Maria to learn how to solder. I want to meet other makers, and I want to hear new ideas, and learn about the origins of inventions we've forgotten were once improbable ideas. And I want to help anyone see that we can encourage each other, inspire each other, and we can create learning, playing, tinkering, inventing, making opportunities. This stuff gets me excited.

I wear my heart on my rolled up sleeve, and I dream big, and bigger.
And I thank you, sincerely, for sharing in this journey.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Make Weapons!

Whether you are preparing for an apocalypse of zombastic proportions, dueling with your frenemies, or just need to decimate a piƱata, there comes a time in every life when you need a reliable weapon. A destructive, yet safe, oversized battle axe, a vorpal sword. Something with heft, cushion, and duct tape.

Max has something for you. Let's Make!

Max started making these cudgels, broad swords, hammers, axes, and flails last year. They are fun to use. There is something primally appealing about picking up a large stick and swinging it around, hitting another large stick, and shouting, "Now stand aside worthy adversary!"

If you want to build a fun, affordable, safe(ish) arsenal, then begin by gathering your supplies:

Supply List
foam... pool noodles are great, and can sometimes be found in the thrift shops, and yard sales
tape measure
2 part epoxy
hack saw, and utility knife
access to a circular saw
Duct tape... lots!
a Sharpie

Max's idea to build these weapons was inspired by a cudgel his dad brought home from Burning Man.* Fortunately, we had all the supplies he needed to begin his Make project. The PVC is 1/2 inch diameter, scraps from various irrigation repairs around the house.

*Geoff, Alex, Suki, and Grant were at Burning Man, together, in 2011. I made Geoff a long white, silk tunic, and at Burning Man he was charged with defending the Trojan Horse, and keeping spectators from being crushed under the 50' tall, 28 ton moving art piece. He carried his foam and duct tape cudgel to exercise his authority, and can be seen near the massive wheel, 45 seconds into this video. (I cannot suppress my delight.)

These pool noodles fit like sleeves over the PVC, and they are both durable and soft.

Ah! Ha! So, that's wear my measuring tape went!

Remember, measure twice, cut once.

The utility knife is the all purpose tool for cutting lengths of foam, and the hacksaw came in handy for shaping the weapons. Sharp tools are always the right tool and, used responsibly, are safe and good. I defer to our friend, Gever Tully, on matters of "Dangerous Things." Gever Tully is the expert who confirms my beliefs about the wisdom of letting children do "dangerous things."

Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. You can never have too much duct tape. This is the stuff. The stuff to hold all the parts together, the stuff to shape and form, and finish your weapon. And: Max is looking forward to picking up some of those great Duck tape colors. He will use the fancier varieties and colors to decorate his weapons.

Loctite, heavy duty, five minute epoxy. This is not a paid endorsement. I just get so frustrated when a tutorial mentions "glue," but fails to mention anything specific... as though any kind will do. There are hundreds of glues, and epoxy types, out there, and Loctite, heavy duty, five minute epoxy is what we had, and what worked for Max.

Let's begin!

Max decides on the general idea of his weapon, this one will be a short sword. He's measured his PVC, and is marking it to cut with the circular saw. He is accounting for the length of the blade, as well as the hilt... leaving plenty of room for the thickness of the foam and a comfortable grip on the handle.

Geoff happened to be working in the shop, too, and made the cut for Max. Goggles on! Go!

Now, with the PVC the length he needs, he slips the foam noodle over the pipe, stopping with space for the hilt.

Now he is measuring the space that will be the hilt... including the crossguard, and the pommel.

Here we see Max feeling for the end of the PVC inside the foam. He is forming the tip of his sword blade. He is measuring enough foam to make the tip soft, and safe. Before cutting off the excess foam, he will ensure there is enough foam around the tip of his sword to ensure nothing hard or sharp will poke through.

He cuts well above the end of the PVC.

The foam is measured, fitted, and cut, so Max is ready to shape his sword. Using the hacksaw, he shaves off foam to create a broad sides that taper at the end of the sword.

Hmmmm... okay, I can see where we have room to step up our safety measures, here. He works carefully, methodically, and I was not so uneasy watching him, as I am looking at these photos. In the future we will see this step done on an appropriate work surface, like our dining table.

Using scraps from an earlier foam shaping job, Max chooses pieces for the crossguard. The crossguard is that piece at the base of the sword that is perpendicular to the blade, and keeps your hand from sliding up the weapon. (I learn new things from my children everyday!)

This is a good time to talk about the five minute epoxy. Max uses the epoxy to secure the sword (pink) foam to the PVC, and will use more epoxy to secure the crossguard pieces (orange). It's stinky stuff, and best used outside, in open air.

Besides epoxy, this is where he begins to use the duct tape. It's good for piecing, holding everything together, and in place, as well as for final shaping of the overall weapon.

And here it is! This is the short sword, before it is wrapped in duct tape. Later, he added an additional piece to the bottom of the hilt... the pommel, so that his hand fits between two parts, making the sword more secure in his grip. After his new sword is artfully wrapped up in duct tape, it will be ready for the battlefield, and glory!

And here you can see Max's huge broad sword next to his smaller sword, still in progress.

Time for the disclaimer: Don't be a goof. Play fair. Play nice. Do not pummel, harass, abuse, maim, harm, terrorize, intimidate, or hurt your frenemy. Now, go play, tinker, and Make!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make A Sweet Valentine

If you are wondering how to share something sweet on Valentine's Day, Maria has a suggestion: How about handing over a personal favor, like a lollipop? She has a step-by-step tutorial on making this clever homemade Valentine. It's simple, funny, and unique, and there's still time to make one for your Valentine.

Step one: Find something, like lollipops, or pencils. We love Trader Joe's for offering dye-free, organic, fruit flavored lollipops. They are yummy and thoughtful.

Step two: Take a picture. Stand with your fist, or both hands, as though you are holding something, something you want to share with a friend. Imagine you have an umbrella in your fist. Be sure you hold your arm a bit to the side of your body, so that your treat will not cover your happy face. We take a bunch pictures, adjusting the angles, and this way we can choose our favorite.

Step three: Decide how many prints you will need, and get ready to print your Valentine picture cards. Choose photo paper, or card stock, because you want the paper to be strong. Maria's picture is formatted 2 inches by 3 inches, and we printed ten per page.

Step four: Separate your pictures. Maria is eight years old, and she's had practice, so she's comfortable using our paper cutter. She can measure and cut, being careful of the sharp blade. Scissors would work too, but she's happy we have this handy tool for cutting thirty, or more, Valentine cards. She trims the edges, and leaves the blank space at the top, or bottom of each picture, so she has room to write "Love, Maria"

Step five: Step five might be best for an adult to take care of. I use a very sharp crafting, or utility, knife. Above her fist I cut a small X, and below her fist I cut a second small X. These are just big enough for the stick of the lollipop to slip through.

Step six: Maria carefully slides a lollipop through the front and above her fist, then she guides it back below her fist. Now her Valentine picture has a treat to hand over to a friend!

Time to add a message, then she's ready to deliver her sweet Valentine greeting! This is the fourth year for Maria to make these. They look funny, and different, every year!