Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Maker Faire San Diego in 3 Days

Here's the map... we're ready to go!

Almost ready.

A new post is up at the San Diego Maker Faire Blog, so you can make your plans for this much anticipated two day event. It's San Diego's first Maker Faire, and it's shaping up to be a great event. Two days, ten museums, crafting, drones, robots, cupcakes cars, food trucks... over 200 exhibitors! Some exhibits are free, and open to the public, just like any day in Balboa Park, but be sure and pick up some tickets so you can visit the museums and participate in the hands on activities!

Our Da Vinci Robot was already out for a dress rehearsal, and he was super. He drew a dolphin for the fifth grade class he was visiting. This skeleton is also known as Da Vinci 2.0, because originally he was only a hand, made out of drift wood and wire, and introduced in 2012.

And here is a sneak peak at Da Vinci 3.0! He's a wire sculpture, from head to foot, and nearly complete. Alex Van Valkenberg designed this new Da Vinci, and has been diligently bringing him to life. Soon, Da Vinci 3.0 will be at his desk and illustrating pictures for San Diego Maker Faire, and Balboa Park's Centennial celebration.

Here's a lovely depiction of a woman in 1915. Maria created her using Scratch, and then the image was put into Inkscape, so Da Vinci could make this drawing!

We have also been making new details to complete our Viking tent, which will be set up on the Federal Lawn, in Balboa Park. This dragon head is the the first half of a figured head for the top of the tent.

There's so much more to do and plan for. We are excited to be sharing some of the things we make, and to see what everyone else has been making, too. After all, this is the greatest show and tell on earth!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Make Dragon Heads

The Viking tent we are bringing to Maker Faire San Diego is a work in progress, which is actually kind of nice, because it means we are using our time to make the tent be what we want it to be, to consider the details thoughtfully. One important detail we've been looking forward to adding: The dragon's head! His wings were hand carved by Alex and Max, and are part of the framing. Perpendicularly from the top of the crossed wings, we will affix the dragon's head.

Alex sketched several original designs and ideas for us to choose from. And when we chose, he made a larger image that William then scanned. Once the image is in the computer, William models the dragon as a 3D model, using MudBox, 3DSMax, and MeshMixer. The challenge is that every form, line, and curve that makes the drawing a whole, has to be broken down into shapes, then re-assembled in a way the computer, then the router can interpret three dimensionally. William went through the same process when he designed and rendered the Prancing Pony sign.

The dragon's head is bass wood, which is lovely to work with. It's not too grainy, no big knots, and comes out fairly smooth, even before sanding. The wood is affixed to a base, and then accurately centered on the router's table. The drill is relatively fast moving, and it's critical for the wood to be stable. When the carving was done, Geoff smoothed out some of the wood threads and bits, while the dragon was still on the base. A sandwich piece was cut on the router, and a we will make a second face for the dragon, so that the head will be seen from left and right. Painting the head will be the final step. Maker Faire San Diego is about one week away, and we still have lots to do to be ready. If necessary, painting a bass wood dragon head will be one of the Make exhibits we demonstrate at the Faire!

Make Vector Illustrations

Good morning. We are on our way into a television studio to talk about Maker Faire San Diego, and to introduce Da Vinci! He's our ever evolving automaton, inspired by The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci uses an Egg-Bot circuit board and draws the images we create through Inkscape. Last night Maria created a brand new image, inspired by her love of clothing design and 1915 clothing style, and made to commemorate Balboa Park's Centennial celebration! She made her picture using Scratch... "Imagine, Program, Share!" The last step was to have Da Vinci take Maria's image and draw it!

Okay... here we go! Time to share!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Makers

Makers love to share... ideas, projects, and passion! We have a passion for STEAM, that's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and Music, so whenever we can share our interests with others, like a school... it's a great feeling! This is why we are thrilled to see that Kipp school will be an exhibitor at their first Maker Faire, in San Diego! October 3 & 4, at Balboa Park, Kipp students will be teaching the art of origami and promoting a tradition of peace, service, and outreach.

Brainstorming and exploring ideas for Kipp was fun, and we are very excited that the ideas the Benevolent Order Of Makers developed are going through as a wonderful plan. It supports their curriculum, and builds character... these are some of the fabulous benefits of having fun through making!

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Name, Same Makers

We are the Benevolent Order Of Makers! We play, experiment, design, sew, build, sculpt, weld, code, mentor, cook, tinker, and share... But you know all of this, because we're the same makers who began in 2010, as the Young Makers Club: Love & Rockets :: Art & Engineering!

October 3 & 4, Benevolent Order Of Makers will be exhibiting at Maker Faire San Diego, in Balboa Park! What a beautiful space, and an auspicious time for Balboa Park, as they celebrate their centennial year. Maker Faire will be Balboa Park's "fall signature centennial event!"

We are busy making and organizing for the Faire. It's fun and frantic! Maker Faire events are happening everywhere... Go to where the fun is being made. Visit and for details.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Make Way For Making

We did it. In spite of my doubts and insecurities, we we flung our doors wide open and invited people in. It was good. It was timely, and inspiring, and good. Here is some of what we enjoyed...

1. Priscilla's school has been invited to hold a booth at San Diego Maker Faire, which is a brand new experience for them. She asked for some suggestions for her 5th through middle school students... what could they do at the Faire, for the Maker Faire? We played with ideas that leaned toward technical, and ideas that leaned toward crafty. Our first test idea was the the copper dancer; a Homopolar motor. It's simple... sort of. Bending wire into just the right shape to make contact with magnets at the bottom of a AA battery takes some patience. It was fun to see the wire figure twirl, and we found the secret is in very carefully denting the positive end of the battery, so the dancer's foot can more easily balance. The downside: it's a short show. The battery drained in less than two minutes, and even when we considered using rechargeable batteries, we decided this was amusing, but wasteful. Not too bad for a one time experiment and example of a simple motor, but hardly ideal for repeating all day at a two day fair.

Priscilla offered that crafty might be a better direction, and after some consideration, I thought of the Thousand Origami Cranes. I think it offers a lot that will make their Maker Faire experience interesting, engaging and worthwhile, while being an easy introduction for their first visit. The students will learn the historic and cultural significances of folding the cranes, and making 1,000 of them will be an admirable challenge. They can choose someone to receive the gift, and further their community outreach by teaching Faire visitors how to do origami, while sharing their goal and intentions with everyone. From an academic perspective, we were thinking of many ways it would support school curriculum, including: history, math and geometry, language arts, and practical art.

The real point of all of this, for me, is that Maker Faire is not only impressive, it is supportive, inclusive, meant to inspire by being receptive to everyone, at all levels. So, wherever you are in a learning process, you are welcome to share, and encouraged to learn. The learning is what is celebrated, the sharing and engagement are what matter. No one should give up, or fail to start, because they are intimidated by bigger-fancier things, or feel inadequate to an experiment, an idea, a desire to learn. Do it. Make it. Play. Break it. Take it apart. Try again. Fail. Ask for help. Offer suggestions. Support. Encourage. Tinker. Dabble. Do it, again. Even if you feel like you don't know what you are doing, when you try, when you step forward, you are already inspiring someone else to play, too.

2. Geoff brought out motors, batteries, cables, and wheels, and Maria got a quick refresher in circuitry and rudimentary car making. She eagerly shared her interest with Emma M. and Amira.

3. Anna B brought out her handmade patchwork pillow, and made some updates for repurposing it. It's made up of memories, of treasured pieces, and she even added a new square, something from her travels to Iceland. We all watched YouTube videos about beautiful Sashiko stitching. Inspiring, for sure, and also requiring tremendous patience. I am all for trying new things, as well as knowing when to simply appreciate someone else's skills and dedication!

4. Bambi is working on her Halloween costume. Definitely a DIY project, from the design up! She's developing her own patterns for her original design, and sewing a lot of ruffles! We brought out other dress patterns, and special rulers, which we hope will be helpful. William worked on cutting his custom pattern for another pair of breeches. Priscilla decided she'd bring her sewing machine to our next gathering... jumping into new ventures can be much easier to imagine when you are surrounded by friends.

5. Maria is making a drawing tutorial. She acknowledged that drawing while documenting every step, including photographing the progress, is a lot of work. But she persisted. I should also add that, this is the very weekend that she demonstrated her new found skill: H@cking. She's into the interface, locally modifying code in her browser. Making changes. H@cking for good. We are so proud.

6. Speaking of persistence... I followed a tutorial for making granny squares, and I really loved this pattern that has fewer holes and gaps than many granny squares. But my persistence got a bit carried away, and I made it really huge, and then it got very wonky, and not a bit square. So, sadly, I had to frog the whole thing. I am a bit discouraged, but I strongly suspect that when this heat wave passes, I will be in a shop, choosing colors for a new crocheted blanket.

7. The big attraction of the day, literally, was the tentacle arm. It's coming closer and closer to completion, thanks to Geoff's effective and diligent persistence. He was glad for the assistance of William and Paul, and for the awe felt cheers and admiration from the rest of us, when he got the arm properly wired and dancing! It's a sight, and a sound! Pneumatic pistons firing and aluminum rings collapsing and rising at his command. We mean to top it with something thematic, and bring it to the Faire.

{One more thing... because it's just too sweet to leave unmentioned: The next morning, after a full day, and late night of working, playing, making, tinkering, eating, laughing, and sharing, Maria was up very early, and when we found her at the kitchen sink, she'd already cleaned the entire kitchen. My heart. Our girl. She's an inspiration.}

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Make Plans

As mentioned before, we have two applications sent in for the San Diego Maker Faire, and we are in talks to bring even more of our Make Club flavor for the two day event. Now, all we have to do is get ready... and do, please read that with the uncertainty, mild stress, and bewilderment befitting us facing a new, big, and elaborate undertaking. I think the picture of my sewing and needle case beautifully illustrates how frayed and tangled I can be, any typical day of the week, so when facing extra challenges... well, I am feeling a bit doubtful, overwhelmed, excited. Sure, I admit it, there's a bit of a thrill in the chaos and uncertainty.

And since the house is in a state (the usual state, really) and we have projects to complete, projects to start, and projects to propose, I went ahead and invited friends over for a casual Stitch-n-Bitch-Hot Glue-Metal Welding-Wool Felting-Snack Nomming get together.

Honestly, my reclusive introvert side never knows what to make of my wild for STEAM side. Inside my head, it sounds something like this...

Reclusive Introvert: We should close the doors, draw the curtains, finish the Tentacle, make a list of supplies, and organize our embroidery floss.

Wild For STEAM: Sure, sounds fine, but let's invite everyone who likes to code, likes wood, metal, threads, wool, glue, glitter, food, and robots, and see if they'd like to help set up a Viking tent and a 6' tall pneumatic tentacle in Balboa Park, and we can grill burgers, or make it a potluck! This will be awesome.

Reclusive Introvert: But. But. But. What if they actually want to come??

Wild For STEAM: This is going to be great. We can eat noms, and make crafts, and chat, and people will learn about Maker Faire, and we can get help from our Young Makers, and everyone will share ideas!

Reclusive Introvert: We have to nap, before they come... and... and...

Wild For STEAM: Trust me.

Reclusive Introvert: OhmyGod.