Discovering Making

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E-Textiles, controller incorporated into the hem.

What does it mean to be a maker? It’s sometimes hard to explain to people who think it is all about one thing – the crafts, the tech, for kids, for geeks….  Here’s one maker, Kristi Rogers of the Loveland Creatorspace, sharing her adventures in making:

“I have researched DIY and maker culture in an academic context, and I have also identified as a maker/artist for several years now, but articulating the value of the depth and breadth of that experience is still tricky. …But, my experiences in this space have been incredible enough that I feel I should try. To me, being a maker is about way more than making things. It’s about being a part of a community of folks who believe in radical knowledge sharing, building a collective base of knowledge, skills, tools and in essence, we empower each other and the community in which we are situated to learn and connect through “making.” In short, as part of a maker culture, a person becomes part of a network of folks who have their own projects, yes, but just as often, we work together to ideate and then make manifest both the bizarre and functional.

When I went to my first class at the makerspace where I am now a member, I remember being really nervous when I walked in, clutching the bag of leds and coin cell batteries I had grabbed when walking out my door…I had zero experience (but lots of interest) in the topic being taught, and knew no one there. As the class got underway, however, my nervousness faded and gave way to interest and excitement about the project we were undertaking…at first on our own, and then as a group. The class was inexpensive, but taught by someone who was well qualified, materials were on loan from the makerspace, and I learned concepts that I would not have had access to outside of an academic classroom, which I didn’t have time or money for. That was four years ago, and now I am designing my own circuits, sewing them into clothing, and programming at an 11722585_10155935501430372_3567790728954406009_ointermediate level in arduino and processing…these skillsets and the courage to develop them were entirely enabled by the maker community.

For me, the courage I found in this context stemmed from the focus on exploration and curiosity that characterizes so many maker endeavors. In a binary world of right and wrong, pass or fail, trying new things that are situated outside of one’s sphere of experience can be intimidating. When I fell into maker culture, I found that I had unwittingly found my way into a context that was just as much about enjoying and sharing the process as it was about completing the project. Because I had access to resources and specialized tools in the space, I could customize my own learning and consumption experience, and a few years later, I have developed skills that allow me to make a decision between making or buying.

What I am trying to say here, is that when you undertake to make something yourself, and spend time in a community that facilitates that, it is freeing. You free yourself up to make mistakes in a safe context, and to explore the possibilities of an object beyond those that are provided to you out of hand by a manufacturer or retailer. In short, you are a prosumer, a producer of objects that you then consume and are joining a movement that is subtly and steadily changing the face of consumer society.”

Kristi is one of the talented makers on our team creating the Denver Mini Maker Faire to come June 11/12.  Her Dragon Warrior, built entirely out of paper, will be at the Faire as well as some of her musical creations.  Check us out and let us know if you would like to join us as a maker, volunteer, or hands-on visitor to the Faire .

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