Maker culture is taking off! A technology-driven movement of DIY building, creating, and engineering, the maker movement celebrates collaborative activities that are both creative and practical – and most of all, fun! Some of the more prominent components of maker culture are 3D printing, science, electronics, robotics, computer technology, crafting, woodwork, and metal work. The movement encourages invention and innovation, particularly in the realm of technology.
Since 2006, annual Maker Faires (created by Maker Magazine) are held in San Mateo, Detroit, New York, and various other cities around the world. These are very well-attended exchanges of ideas, crafts, art and engineering, that celebrate the ingenuity of maker culture.
I’ll be writing more specifically about Calgary maker culture in my next blog post, but first - how about creating your own maker space at home? All you need are a few basic tools and supplies, and you’ll be building your own gizmos and gadgets in no time!
We have many books to help get you started on your own DIY maker projects, with minimum cost and maximum fun! Here are some titles that will inspire and guide you!
World Of Geekcraft by Susan Beal
Beal’s colourful, wonderfully quirky book contains a treasure trove of super fun craft projects that you can make at home, including a needle-felted solar system, a Star Wars terrarium, and a Morse code quilt!
World of Geekcraft has clear instructions, lovely photos by Jay B Sauceda, and super helpful templates at the back of the book. The types of crafts featured include beading, quilting, needle-felting and embroidering.
Susan Beal is a writer and crafter from Portland Oregon, who is definitely a mover and shaker in the maker scene. For more fun crafty stuff, you can also check out her amazing maker-themed blog: http://worldofgeekcraftbook.wordpress.com/
Snip, burn, Solder, Shred by David Erik Nelson
Nelson’s contribution to the maker canon also includes crafts, in addition to nifty electronics and other fantastic toys! They seem cheap, fun and easy to make, and come with thorough, step-by step instructions. Here you can learn everything from simple electronics to sewing to soldering to carpentry! The photographs in this book are not as impressive as those in World of Geekcraft, but they are still very useful in demonstrating the projects.
The book is helpfully divided into three sections. Part I: Kid Stuff features kid-friendly projects such as the Sock Squid. Part II: The Electro-Skiffle explores homemade musical instruments (The $10 Electric Guitar is the one I am most keen to try!) Part III: The Locomotivated looks at moving toys, including a cool little Jitterbug Robot!
Geek Dad by Ken Denmead
Ken Denmead is an engineer and Publisher/Editor-at-large for the excellent technology/science blog geekdad.com. This book has great illustrations and easy-to-understand instructions. Ever wanted to learn how to create a cyborg jack-o-lantern? This is your chance!
While there are no photographs in the book, there are a few basic illustrations. What really stands out here is Denmead’s inclusion of a super helpful chart for each project, which gives you an accurate idea of the cost, difficulty, duration, tools and materials of each project. There is also a strong focus on reusability and sustainability.
I really enjoyed the scientific and historical context Denmead provides for each project. For any junior science buffs – this is an ideal choice.
Stomp Rockets, Catapults, and Kaleidoscopes by Curt Gabrielson
This book teaches kids how common objects function by showing them how to build models of those objects. The title speaks volumes about how much these activities will appeal to kids; Gabrielson has definitely tapped into the kinds of science experiments young engineers-in-training would love to explore. Several musical instruments are included, and these are a real highlight for me (being a true music geek.)
The photos are small and black-and-white, but very useful in that they demonstrate the building process step-by-step.
A major virtue of Gabrielson’s book is that it encourages kids to experiment; by building on, or departing from, the instructions, they can invent their own machines. Thus the book is a wonderful resource for any science fair.
Once again there is strong science focus at work in this book, encouraging the creative ingenuity at the heart of the maker movement.