Sunday, May 28, 2017

Making With Friends

Make! Make! Hooray!

Leo and his needle felted beard man!
When we are really lucky, we manage to get ourselves up to the best Maker Faire event of all, Maker Faire, Bay Area, otherwise we love hosting Bird House mini faires, here at home, any month of the year! We throw open the doors, bring out our works in progress and invite friends to bring and share their own projects. Between the potluck, and all of the creative energy, it never fails to be a productive and inspiring day.

We love requests for activities, questions, ideas. This time, Izzy wanted to bring out her wool felting... a craft she recently discovered and already excels at. We love wool... wet felting, needle felting! It was our very first exhibit and activity we ever shared at a Maker Faire, and we still love sharing our supplies and enthusiasm. We learned, in Wisconsin, how much fun friends and wool can be.

Simon getting in the needle felting zone... it's quite meditative.

Maria made a fat cat. We thought it was a cat's head, with a tail coming off the back, but she explained that the cat's body was so round and full, it looked as though it was only ball. I need to get a picture of the funny little guy!

With some old train rails, magnets, and metal balls, Alex set up a demonstration that all of us tested, experimented and played with, and thoroughly enjoyed. It's a Gauss rifle... and with the transference of energy from one marble, on the left, making contact with the magnets, the last marble on the right is projected forward, quickly. Simple. Smart.

Ido and Leslie, Simon, Bex, and Spencer arrived, with lots of great potluck food, and the makings for a brand new Junkcade project. Junk + Arcade: Ido's brilliant convergence of assorted household articles assembled and combined with video games, written in Scratch, to make an arcade game! It's ingenious, and loads of fun, to build and to play!

(Look for Junkcade, and many more awesome exhibits at the North County Mini Maker Faire, June 17-18.)

Geoff and William were recruited into the Junkcade build, and happily took to it... some wood working, wiring, assembling, William got a soldering lesson, and Geoff wrote code.

Love those spatula controllers! I think everyone is winning.

Since Scratch is open source, and everyone is encouraged to share, there are a lot of fun games to choose from, but possibly the coolest thing is that anyone using Scratch could develop their own games. Maybe BOoM Nerds will write a game specifically related to the Junkcade theme and aesthetic.

Speaking of everyone winning... Leslie discovered the Zen of needle felting. Trust me, the satisfaction and creativity that flows in needle felting wool is wonderful, compelling, good.

Bex agrees! Making, with friends, is the best excuse for opening your doors, and inviting everyone in.

It's fun to look back at some other Making with Friends events...

April 2012: Making the Most of Our Lemons!

December 2014: Think, Tinker, Play, Make, Program!

June 2015: Backyard Mini-Make

June 2016: Make Light: Start Fires

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lessons in Making :: Crochet

Lunch hour crochet lessons... that's what I've been up to, on Fridays, sometimes Monday's too. As word spreads, the class has been growing, and that's sweet. In the beginning, Mrs. B and I were teaching Morea, India, and Maria... my favorite part to observe is that when new students show up and want to "try," one of the original three girls, happily, steps in to begin the lessons, with finger crocheting. This peer to peer teaching is what I've learned to encourage through experiences with Benevolent Order of Makers. Teaching builds confidence and reinforces our understanding of subjects that we are sharing; its not necessary to be 'older,' and you don't have to be absolutely 'authoritative' to be a dependable and helpful mentor. It might have been a daunting thing to welcome new students every week, starting over with every beginner, but we are adding as many teachers as students, and everyone is adding and building skills. This hour has become one of my favorite of the week... sitting in a (growing) circle together, exchanging ideas and skills, observing and praising each participant's progress, even feeling at ease and amused about frogging! I love how calming it is to be in that room, surrounded by thoughtful, kind, curious, and enthused crochet-ers, who set such a comfortable and encouraging tone.

And! Maria "made a thing!" I love that she loves what she made. It's not that she doesn't see the inconsistencies, the gradual slope, it's that she is thrilled with the prospect of getting better! She is delighted with the texture, the feel of those double crocheted rows that she made, herself. She has decided on a practical use for it, and she's started practicing the shell stitches for crocheting a shawl. And... ohmygosh, I just love her harvest gold square!

This reminds me of a funny thing about making... if I buy something from a store, I expect it to be square, or hold water, to be uniform and "perfect." But I love the affection, the almost romantic thrill of holding something homemade, our own, so that no matter that it tips, or leaks, or is lopsided, or not-quite-perfect, we love it, adore it, keep it for always. I love that Benevolent Order of Makers celebrates tinkering, creating, failing, trying again, success, sharing, cooperating, teaching and learning, across ages, across disciplines. We don't have to be "perfect," we only have to want to keep trying to reach our goals, and be thrilled with the journey. Inch by inch, row by row... this is how we learn and grow.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Global Scratch Day in Session!

For about 2 years, Maria has been enjoying Scratch, a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and today she participated in a very special event celebrating the tenth birthday of the Scratch program, Global Scratch Day. Using Scratch, Maria has been learning to program, or write code, which has given her the opportunity to illustrate, write games, create animations, and engage in an online community of fellow coders. And today she taught Working With Vector Graphics, Advanced Workshop, portrait making.

The Benevolent Order of Makers was proud to be represented by Maria, and to participate in this great event. It's our first Scratch Day event, and it will not be our last!

Not only did we get to spend the day with family and friends, like Bex and Spencer, but we were surrounded by all kinds of enthused and energized people who were eager to learn, eager to teach, eager to share. The exchange of ideas and knowledge is probably one of our favorite incentives for being a benevolent order of makers.

We are so glad to have friends like Ido...

and Leslie... they brought their happy Scratch Day enthusiasm and experiences with them when they moved here from New York. Now we know what a Scratch Day can be, we are already looking forward to next year.

Maria and Simon~

Getting started.

Maria chose to share her knowledge of making portraits, using vector shapes, with more advanced Scratchers. To prepare for the hour long workshop she created different elements that coders could assemble, and make their own. She also wrote key notes and directions on two white boards. Geoff and I were on hand to help... Geoff for technical support, and me to move chairs, and take pictures. Really, she knows Scratch, and managed her lesson plan and preparations all on her own.

Tutu, Aunt Holly, and cousin Iz joined the class, which was a nice bonus.

During the afternoon session Maria decided to be a student and take on Pen... Pen blocks are for controlling the pen tool in Scratch. This class gave Maria new skills and confidence in using functions to create graphic patterns and geometric shapes.

Geoff, Nadav, Maria, and Simon~

Maria is fine tuning her project to share at the end of the day. A great aspect of Scratch is keeping things open, so people can share what they've made, how it was done, and learn from other Scratcher's projects, too.

The day, and the activities, the people we met, all of it raised our thoughts and confirmed our hopes and plans. We love our community, we love the integrity and drive of people who want to teach and learn, grow and share, and we are eager for more... more Make, more Scratch, more sharing, thinking, tinkering, playing, testing, failing, moving forward, creating, and BOoM!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Global Scratch Day!

Cairo kitty heard we were scratching and he came to have a look. Cairo, like most cats, loves a good scratch. What he didn't understand was that sometimes when we scratch we actually Scratch! Writing code, animating, making games, and creating vector line art, programming with MIT's Media Lab. If you have never Scratched, and would like to learn how to code, there is a wonderful opportunity to learn more... Look for a Scratch Day event near you! There is a global network of events to celebrate this 10th anniversary of Scratch. And it's not just for children... any beginner can get familiar with programming and writing code, using this free, open-source, and engaging program.

Maria still talks about owning a restaurant. She still thinks of dancing, writing, gardening, and cooking. There are a lot of things Maria is interested in, for now, for the future. But, consistently, for a couple of years, when anyone asks about her plans, her solid answer is, I want to be a programmer and an artist.

This recent vector line drawing was done using Scratch, from MIT. Her skills grow by leaps and bounds... so much so that she's been invited to teach a course in Scratch programming for Scratch Day, which is a global network of events to celebrate Scratch.

Here is the original photograph she was inspired by...

Benevolent Order of Makers is a proud of Sponsor of Scratch Day!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Make Ours a March for Science

Grant and Alex~

On our way to March for Science... for Science. For Technology. For Engineering. For Art. For Math. For Education! As the Benevolent Order of Makers we couldn't miss marching for STEAM Education, and we couldn't miss bringing out our 12' tall benevolent cosplay, the Laputa robot!

Look at me still marching when there's science to do... I borrowed from Portal and Still Alive, to express the exasperation of marching in defense of empirical data, research based evidence, education, the EPA. I mean, seriously?? And Paul's sign was a brilliant reminder that we cannot let the Anti-science culture get us down. We gotta get STEAM-ED! Not mad. Good stuff, and right in line with my mantra... I'm here, and acting out of love, out of inspiration, out of resistance to tyranny, ignorance, hate, and fear. Love trumps hate.

Hey, it's Kevin S.!

We marched. We marched hard for Science!

It takes a team of BOoM Nerds to bring out this robot, and make our way through crowds, around trees, under overhangs.

We became a Robot Parade within the March, drawing our own crowds and Miyazaki, and robot fans.

In a future time children will work together to build a giant cyborg
Robot parade, robot parade, wave the flags that the robots made
Robot parade, robot parade, robots obey what the children say

There's electric cars, there's electric trains, here comes a robot with electric brains
Robot parade, robot parade, wave the flags that the robots made
Robot parade, robot parade, robots obey what the children say...

They Might Be Giants

The 'bot is a big hit. We stopped for pictures all the time, and we had fresh Happy Earth Day flowers for anyone that correctly identified this big fellow.

The robot is from the animated film, Castle in the Sky, and is the one that cares for the garden. Our robot has been to two Maker Faires, and to Fanime conventions.

He's very popular.

He's popular, big, and benevolent, his eyes are programmed to light in the same sequence as in the movie.

And he makes cool shade.

Amira and Maria were happy to march, to show they are passionate about education, about health, and the planet, about our National Parks, and natural resources. There's a lot to get STEAM ED about!