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Meet the Makerspace Makers and Attend our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference

1 Apr

It’s an exciting time in Tampa Bay!  When we held our first “Makerspace UnConference” at our first Maker festival in 2012, there were no full scale makerspaces in Tampa Bay.  The Faulhaber FabLab at the GWIZ Science Museum in Sarasota and Familab in Orlando were our two closest maker neighbors.  Learning is for Everyone was exploring the idea with potential collaborative partners, and a couple of other efforts were under consideration.

This year, we’re joined by four groups who have various programs underway and are excited to share their success and programs with Gulf Coast MakerCon attendees.  We’re happy to introduce them to you! They’ll be exhibiting at Gulf Coast MakerCon all weekend, and leading our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference on Sunday, April 6, at 4:30 pm, where you can learn more about these spaces, and how you can work to build more of them in your community.

Community Innovation Center at the John F. Germany Library 

new logoThe Community Innovation Center (CIC) at John F. Germany Library is a collaborative effort between 1939934_482287221897921_725617154_oLearning is for Everyone, Inc (LI4E.org)  and the John F. Germany Library,   the flagship library of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System.   At 10,000 square feet, the CIC is the largest such facility in Tampa Bay and in Florida, and will function as a public Makerspace, an Entrepreneurship Center, a proving ground for Invention and Exploration, and the ultimate Creative Space,  providing the tools and human capital for fostering active creation, as well as the necessary knowledge for that creation.  The CIC, scheduled to open at the end of April,  is arranged into eight distinct, but flexible sections:

  • TechMasters Center
  • Entrepreneurial Center
  • Robotics Centers
  • Hands-On Workshop
  • Machine Shop
  • Media Lab & Studio
  • Arts Center
  • Computer Lab

CIC staff will be sharing some fun activities for our Young Makers section, and showcasing a little of what will be available in the space when it opens.

Faulhaber Fab Lab

Fab Lab logo

The Faulhaber Fab Lab is the oldest space in the area, currently moving to a new location in Sarasota, it bring high level manufacturing capabilities to the Gulf Coast area.  “A fab lab, ” explains representative, Eric McGrath, ” is a non-profit entity that has collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to assemble a diverse collection of state-of-the-art equipment and computers into one workspace as a community center for innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM education.”

fablab WorkshopsDr. Fritz Faulhaber and his wife Ping and through the Faulhaber Family Foundation are collaborating with the community of Sarasota to open the fab lab and be a central resource for invention and fabrication by individuals, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, retirees and business. The staff and volunteers in the community workshop instill the confidence for members to learn, design and safely operate computer-controlled machinery.

“The aim of a fab lab,” says Eric, ” is to teach advanced skills in design, innovation and how to make “almost anything”. These skill sets learned through nurturing the inventor in all of us can be applied in many careers. Business collaboration, workforce development and community innovation is an integral part of the Faulhaber Fab Lab.”

Visit www.sarasotascience.org for updates and information

Tampa Hackerspace

tampa hackerspaceTampa Hackerspace is a local community workshop organized to enable learning of technology skills by providing tools, space, equipment and classes.

“We are a non-profit, membership based institution, ” explains Tampa Hackerspace president, Bill Shaw. ” A broad selection of classes and workshops are open to both members and non-members.

“Every week we open our doors to the public and get together to build some cool projects and meet some very cool people. Join us to work on your stuff, bounce ideas off of members, check out the 3D printers and other equipment and socialize. Occasionally, we’ll throw in a small workshop or class. This is our best attended event and is a great opportunity to see what we do and meet our community.”

Tampa Hackerspace also hosts a Kid’s Open Make on Sunday Afternoons for crafts, electronics and technology projects, Minecraft, programming activities and more! Every month, they have a new theme and a host of new activities geared towards elementary and middle school students. Space is limited so they ask that you RSVP on Meetup.com to reserve a spot.

You can connect with Tampa Hackerspace:
Web: http://tampahackerspace.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HackTampa
Classes & Events: http://www.meetup.com/Tampa-Hackerspace

Land O’ Lakes Library,  Pasco County Library System

The Lanedgar allan ohmsd O’Lakes Library in Pasco County has been exploring the idea of opening a makerspace in its library system for the past year, and made a name for itself this year, Pasco County Library Cooperativewhen it became the first library in the country to field a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team – the Edgar Allan Ohms! – who competed at the Orlando FRC Regional in March.  The Library is a trend setter, home to
one of the largest battle of the bands in the state (Rockus Maximus) and a popular anime convention (Lamecon) . A makerspace isn’t far behind!

The Land O’Lakes Library will be demoing their FRC robot, and showcasing free services and opportunities for job seekers and entrepreneurs. And you can apply for a library card, too!

Makerspace UnConference

Our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference will be held on Sunday, April 6th, at 4:30 pm at the Gulf Coast MakerCon stage.   As an “un” conference, it’s a casual opportunity to join in open discussion with these four very different spaces, that share a common interest in providing public creative spaces to build, learn and develop skills for hobby, personal satisfaction, and academic and career enrichment.   Join us to get ideas, share insights and find ways to collaborate in bringing more of these great spaces to Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast!

 

Meet the Story Makers: Scott & Nick with F5Live: Refreshing Technology

30 Mar

F5Live

Our third Tampa Bay maker festival is notable for many things, from being our first two day event, to the number and diversity of makers joining us this year, and for the refreshing presence of Scott Ertz and Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live,  who will be broadcasting live from Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 on Saturday.

We asked them to tell us about F5 Live, what they do and why they do it.

GCMC: So – what do you do?

F5 Live: Hosted by Scott Ertz and Nicholas DiMeo, F5 Live: Refreshing Technology is a livecast covering the worlds of gadgets,  gaming, Internet and media. Each weekly show airs live on Sunday nights at 9p eastern time at http://www.f5live.tv/joinus, allowing the audience to chat with the hosts live on the air and ask questions about the topics discussed on the show. After each episode goes off the air, the audio and video are then uploaded and are available for download through any number of services by Monday morning.

The crew also travels the country to cover special events and conventions from the International CES to ROBOCON Tampa Bay and

nick and scott

F5 Live broadcasting from the 16th Annual Orlando FRC Regional in March.

Gulf Coast MakerCon. Special shows air throughout the week of the events. F5 Live: Refreshing Technology is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network and is part of the PLuGHiTz Live Family. For more information, inquiries or if you’d like to have F5 Live appear, cover or produce content at your event, please visit http://www.f5live.tv or reach out to contact@plughitz.com.

GCMC: Great plug! We highly recommend people contact you.  But – why do you do it?
F5 Live: Because sleep is overrated. Like many of the people and companies exhibiting at the convention, we believe that our time is best used in the creation of things that others enjoy. In other words, we enjoy spending out time with cool things and sharing those cool things with others.

GCMC: How are you participating in GCMC?
F5 Live: We will be broadcasting live from the convention, helping to show off the maker culture as well as the really interesting things that our local makers have created. Our goal is to give everyone at the event a chance to show off their wares.

GCMC: What do you hope to bring to GCMC?
F5Live: Attention; loud, obnoxious attention. Through the broadcast, we really hope to be able to expose the uninitiated to the truly unique world that is the maker culture. Lots of people have passions that they don’t know can be fulfilled, and seeing others doing it might encourage them to try.

GCMC: What do you hope to take away from Gulf Coast MakerCon?
Someone’s 3D printer. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Okay – so watch your stuff if Nick and Scott come by, and watch F5 Live – you’ll find it refreshing!  Look for Scott and Nick at Gulf Coast Maker Con all day Saturday, as they help us tell the Maker Story in Tampa Bay!

 

Meet the Maker & Gulf Coast MakerCon Sponsor: Gabriel Anzziani, of Gabotronics

28 Mar

GabotronicsWe welcome Gabriel Anzziani, of Gabotronics, back to our Annual DIY Festival of the Inventive Spirit for a third year in a row, and this year, as well, with gratitude to Gabotronics as a Gulf Coast MakerCon Sponsor.

Gabriel Anzziani, founded Gabotronics in 2009 and has been moving full steam ahead every since!  We first made

gabotronics

Gabriel Anzziani, at our 2nd annual maker festival in 2012

his acquaintance two years ago, when he attended our inaugural Tampa Mini Maker Faire in 2012.  His remarkable and remarkably tiny, oscilloscopes  captured everyone’s interest in 2012, and since then, he’s expanded his line of products to a dizzying array of embedded systems and custom electronic designs, and now he’s a regular on the Maker Fair circuit.

 Gabriel is also a Kickstarter whiz, successfully funding at least three campaigns, for the Xprotolab Portable and the Xminilab Portable, and most recently his Oscilloscope Watch, which had a goal of $60,000 and closed out at almost $70,000.

Gabriel will have a great selection of his awesome products available for sale at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5 & 6.

About Gabotronics

Gabotronics is based in Lakewood Ranch, FL, specializes in design and manufacture embedded systems, a direct outgrowth of founder Gabriel’s lifelong interest in electronics. Gabriel remembers disassembling RC cars, and building fans with the motors; creating door alarms from dial phone parts; and getting shocked when playing with relays, and always imagined having his own company called Gabotronics. He got his bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering at Simon Bolívar University in Venezuela in 2003. Gabotronics was formally founded on 2009.

“I really enjoy designing, inventing, making,” says Gabriel. “When I receive feedback from my customers saying that my products are awesome, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Many thanks, Gabotronics, for supporting Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014!

Meet the Game Makers: Suncoast Skirmishers

27 Mar

suncoast skirmishers

One fun new element of this year’s Celebration of the DIY Inventive Spirit is the incorporation of International Tabletop Day into our event, made possible thanks to Suncoast Skirmishers.  We spoke with Dominick Trascritti, who heads up the RPG Gaming portion of the group, who told us a bit about the group and what it brings to Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014.

“Suncoast Skirmishers is a group that is associated with Historical Minature Gaming,” explained Dominick. ” It is really a loose group made from members who specialize in role playing, historical miniature players, fantasy/science fiction gamers, and board gamers. Most members are also members of the Pathfinder Society of Florida who play Paizo’s Pathfinder Living game, Historical Miniature Gaming Society South, Story gamers,thumbs_tabletopday2014_600x500 and smaller groups.

“In its essence all tabletop gaming is about imagination, and socialization. Players share something to explore, if it’s a fantasy world, a “what if” question from history, or even exploring game theory. Players play in the same room, and socialize before and after a game.

“Professional gamers are employed not only by militaries around the world, but “serious games” also allow business to help managers gain confidence, and urban planners practice for disasters or operations.

gaming

Tabletop gaming

“There are many skills that come from gaming in this manner. First are simple math skills, pattern recognition, strategy, and statistical theory. Softer skills such as persuasion, speaking, and confidence are also exercised.

“In role playing games teamwork, attention to detail, planning, and flexibility under pressure are exercised.
Many players also like to know the actual history then try new twists on the story, for example, “What would have happened if Cornwallis at Yorktown was able to break out and continue to fight the Revolutionary war?”

“In many parts of the hobby, the miniatures and tables must be designed, fabricated, painted, and repaired. All these are skills that are learned or taught.

“For Gulf Coast maker Conference, we hope to bring this hobby to light to others, show the players how games are played, and provide chances to play full scale events.”

Meet the Maker: Jason Rawley, of Fireblade Comics

26 Mar

fireblade comics

We love the cosplay and gaming elements of our event this year, and are happy to welcome Jason Rawley of Fireblade Comics to our line up for Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014.  We asked him to tell us a bit about his work and what he’s bringing to our maker event.

GCMC: What do you do?

JR: Fireblade Comics began as my dream of producing online, live-action, interactive comics. As it’s developed over the years, I also incorporated my other works with custom action figures, props, and other collectibles.

GCMC: Why do you do it?

JR: I grew up in the 80’s as a huge fan of comics and movies and I was drawn to the realm of film making at an early age, especially special effects. Even as early as elementary school I Jasonwould create props and set pieces for the school plays. Art has always been in my veins so over the years I’ve done everything from graphic arts, website design, drawing, writing, and crafting. I’ve been building scale models for many years so that led to customizing action figures. Prop making became more of a demand as the cosplay community has grown, to the point where I get quite a few commissions throughout the year from people who come across my other works.

GCMC: Why do you think it’s important or valuable?

JR: I believe all art is important as self expression while is essential to us as humans. For those who get into cosplaying or collecting, this can be a great escape from the stress of normal life. So it’s always a privilege for me to be able to use my art to express myself while at the same time creating things people will use and appreciate for years.

GCMC: How long have you been doing it?

JR: I’ve been crafting, building, and customizing since early childhood so most people would say it was “all my life”.

GCMC: What do like best about it?

JR: As a form of self expression, being able to create things from my imagination is a wonderful release and a therapy. It’s taken me places and I’ve gotten to make many great friends over the years.

iron-man-unleashed-ver2-18GCMC: What are you bringing for folks to see or do at Gulf Coast MakerCon?

JR: I’ll be bringing a healthy selection of my customs including an array of props from sci-fi blasters to Ghostbuster gear as well as some action figure bases and displays. If possible I’ll bring some work-in-progress pieces so I can demonstrate how projects move through the construction phases.

GCMC: What do you hope to get out of your Makercon experience?

JR: I’m hoping to meet some good people with the same interests and fanboy fascinations as myself as well as get some feedback on my projects.

Come check out Jason’s awesome work at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5 & 6!  Get your discounted tickets today!

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Meet the Idea Makers: Tampa Bay Inventors Council

25 Mar

TBIC

The Tampa Bay Inventors Council (TBIC) is a long time friend and partner of LI4E, and we’re delighted to welcome them to Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014, where they’re hosting the Florida Inventors Showcase.  We talked to Wayne Rasanen, president of TBIC, to learn a bit more about his great organization and what they’re bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon.

GCMC: What do you do?

WR:  I help coordinate the Tampa Bay Inventors Council meetings and activities plus, plus, plus…

GCMC: Why do you do it?

WR: Inventors need guidance to avoid getting ripped-off by bad actors so TBIC provides a forum where inventors can meet to share their experience.

GCMC: Why do you think it’s important or valuable?

WR: America is great because of the ideas we generate and the businesses we build. Helping that process is vital.

GCMC: How long have you been part of TBIC?

WR: Although I first attended in 1996, I have been active with the board since 2003 and president for the past eight years.

GCMC: What do like best about TBIC?

WR: I like helping people learn and connect with opportunities. When an inventor makes it on the market I’m thrilled to have helped.

in10did

Wayne showing a Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire 2013 visitor his In10Did keyboard.

GCMC: What are you bringing for folks to see or do at Gulf Coast MakerCon?

WR: TBIC has been involved with Maker events for several years and know that it is a rewarding place to be. I will be bringing my keyboard innovation but several inventors will be showing what they are working on.

GCMC: What do you hope to get out of your Makercon experience?

WR: Feedback on product development is a big plus but it is great to see what others are doing to help fuel our creative minds.

GCMC: Anything else you’d like to add?

WR: Come hungry to learn and you will leave all filled up!

As you can see, Wayne’s a busy man of few words – but as you’ll be able to see at Gulf Coast MakerCon  2014, he’s definitely a man of action, leading a great group of not just thinkers but awesome doers!  Among the inventions that will be on display on behalf of TBIC:

So head out to Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5th and 6th,  come hungry to learn – we’ll fill your plate up!

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Guest Blog: Show & Tell Isn’t Just for MakerCon

24 Mar

chuck stephensLI4E Volunteer and Maker of all Trades, Chuck Stephens, shares his thoughts on the power of sharing.
________________________

Have you ever heard of Luigi da Vinci? Luigi was a brilliant maker during the Italian Renaissance. He spent all day building models and perfecting his ideas. He was a happy man doing whatever he wanted and exploring his curiosity. One day he’d play with his model flying machines and the next day he’d imagine new buildings or study the nature of living things. He was content to pursue his passions and the world left him to it. He mostly kept to himself but once in a while he liked to share a wineskin with his neighbor Leonardo the artist, and they would spend a nice evening talking about Luigi’s toys while Leonardo sketched amusing pictures. “

“Ah , Leonardo,” Luigi would tease. “You live your life in pictures. Men are remembered for doing, not dreaming! I build machines that fly while you sit and doodle them on parchment. What legacy is that?”

At these times the artist would smile slyly and offer Luigi another drink and soon he was off on another wild demonstration while Leonardo scribbled away.

You’ve heard of Luigi da Vinci, right? He was a genius!

To do is to be- to document is to be heard

familab

Familab sharing at LI4Es 2013 maker festival.


How is a maker different from a hobbyist? I’ve had a few lively debates about this in various forums and I think it boils down to communication- makers love to share their work and knowledge. Makers don’t read Popular Mechanics and write letters to the editor- they read tech web sites and leave comments that other readers can comment on. Makers don’t just use gadgets- they hack and modify them and then go on their blogs and tell others how to do it. While a hobbyist can enjoy their craft in isolation, a maker has a need to share what they do and how they do it. Openness and sharing are at the core of the maker movement.

Much like academia, in the maker community it’s ‘Publish or perish‘. The growth of the maker movement was fertilized with millions of blog posts, Instructables, Youtube videos, comment threads and Tweets. The internet allows enthusiasts to become ambassadors. I’ve learned everything I know about electronics from Forrest Mims’s Basic Electronics book and the internet. No matter what problems I encountered or questions I had, the answers were just a few mouse clicks away. I was able to learn everything I wanted at my own pace.

Most important- I stayed interested. I got exactly what I wanted out of electronics when I wanted it thanks to thousands of other hobbyists who took the time to post a video or answer a question on a message board. Through this easy access to shared information makers become self replicating. User created resources inspire new users who create their own resources- rinse and repeat. By documenting our work we help others become makers.

OK I’ll confess- I’m the worst! I hate to break my work flow with camera work or blog posts. Stopping to set up a camera and tripod takes time that could be spent learning and building. Even as I’m writing this article I’m thinking that the four channel mixer I’ve been working on for my lunetta synthesizer isn’t building itself. When I finish a project I’m already thinking about my next one so I rarely stop to shoot a video. I rarely even get good photographs of my projects- I just play with them and then go build new stuff.

Even when the video or photos get shot the job’s not done. At the least it needs to be trimmed and edited. You may want to add graphics and titles, animations, music or voice-overs. It may need to be reformatted to load quickly on Vimeo or Youtube. You’ll also want to write a description and add the right tags so folks can find it. In the end picking up my soldering iron and starting the next project seems like a lot less hassle.

A New (Maker) Year’s resolution

In the last couple of years, Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, now Gulf Coast MakerCon, has become the focus of my year, project-wise. Everything falls into two categories- things to get done before MakerCon and things that I can’t start until after MakerCon. Since it has become the bookends of my year, maybe a New (Maker) Year’s resolution is in order. Mine is to better document my work.

This happens to coincide with the start of Hackaday’s new Projects page.  I signed up and started a page there but I really need to change my approach to documentation. I want to focus on video since my projects are mostly sound based. As usual I went to the internet to see what others were doing. People make instructional videos on how to make instructional videos- now that’s meta. After a few hours of good and bad advice, I found my game plan for documenting my work. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you set out to document your projects with video.

Plan your work and work your plan

overlap project notes 2Planning is the key. Figure out what you want to say and show before you start recording. It can be as simple as an outline that covers your key points or a full script- whatever works for you. Also plan the visual aspect of your video. Is there good lighting? Can the camera ‘see’ you? If you need to move or change positions can you do so without blocking the shot? If your dealing with lots of steps or movements in your video it may help to create a simple story board, a comic book-like set of sketches planning out key scenes, movements and actions. You can download story board templates from Incompetech here http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/storyboard/ Planning and visualizing your video project will help you see problems and solve them before your cameras are rolling. When I’ve made videos in the past I’ve found that hand written cue cards and a plan for the shot save me a lot of time and frustration. Planning your steps will also help you insure that you have all necessary materials handy when you need them.

Make it easy for yourself

After you have your video planned out it’s time to start filming. In my house this is always a daunting task. My workbench is in the living room so things need to be rearranged a little to make room for a tripod and lights. Since my bench is along a wall it’s hard to get a good camera angle. The best way to avoid these hassles is to plan your work space with video in mind. Avoid tripods and design camera mounts into your workbench. Action cameras like the GoPro with lots of mounting options are great for this. It can also be as simple as using squares of adhesive Velcro with a cheap webcam.

instructional video

Chuck’s instructional video on how he made a drumbot.

While it’s possible to shoot a simple video in one single take, it can get a little boring and it increases the chance of flubbed lines.. Using two cameras, or even one camera with two separate mounting spots, can make your video much better. Use a wide shot when you are talking and explaining things and a close up to show details. If you do moving shots look into making a DIY steadicam set up to make your camera movements smoother. Watch TV with an eye towards the technical details. Observe how the way something is shot makes it more interesting.

I’ve decided to use an old Manfrotto lighting clamp modified to accept a standard camera mount for my main camera. It mounts easily to my bookshelf and gives a nice long shot along the bench. I also have a small webcam with Velcro for closer angles and a custom mount for my tablet for overhead close ups of my workbench. These are all things I had laying around.

Use a similar approach to lighting. Good lighting will make a cheap camera look better. Flea markets and yard sales are a good source for lighting fixtures and lamps. The main thing to keep in mind is to provide even lighting. Avoid a single bright light as this will cause bright glare and dark shadows. Use several softer lights for better illumination from many angles. Keep your work area well lit and you will always be ready to shoot a video. I have two angle-poise desk lamps mounted on my workbench as well as a couple of small fluorescent tubes. I also use a rechargable LED flashlight with a diffuser for a detail spotlight.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the easier it is to shoot your video the more likely you will be to shoot a video. Having your camera mounts and lights in place all the time makes it much easier.

Don’t forget the audio

how to video

FTC Team Duct Tape students offer a nice little instructional video for FIRST teams.


Great video quality is no good if the audience can’t hear what you’re saying. Keep the audio in mind in your early planning stages. When you’re ready to shoot turn off the A/C or fans. If you live near traffic or playing children, close the windows. Most cameras have a built in microphone. This is fine, but if you are shooting in a noisy environment try using an external microphone or an inexpensive clip-on lavalier mic. If your demo is really loud you can always do a separate voice over later. I have a small collection of microphones and a couple of digital audio recorders but I usually just use the mics on my cameras. Think about adding some music or sound effects. Keep in mind that using music that you don’t have permission to use may get your video pulled by Youtube or Vimeo. Use royalty free music or create your own with Garage Band, Fruity Loops or similar software.

Putting it all together

video editing

Ryder, with FTC Team Duct Tape, prefers full featured editing software, but Movie Maker will do for basic needs.


The final step is editing. Editing allows you to combine video and audio clips to create your final video. You can also add titles, video and audio effects and transitions that add variety to the way one clip fades into another clip. There are plenty of free video editing programs out there, and new ones pop up all the time. Do a little research and find one that fits your needs. There are many video editing tutorials out there that will teach you the basics of your chosen program. Don’t go overboard with the effects and transitions- the information you are presenting should always be the focus. I use Windows Movie Maker and a shareware video format converter. I’ve used expensive, feature packed software in the past, but this does everything I need and it came installed on my laptop.

When you see a video you like, make a mental note about what made it interesting. Was it well written? Was the camera work smooth and clear? Were there interesting extras like graphics, titles or music? Was the presenter enthusiastic and engaging?

Don’t be afraid to learn from others and borrow from other peoples successes. That’s what being a maker is all about.

Keep it simple

The most important thing is to keep it simple. Relax- you’re just talking to some friends, not going out for an Academy Award. Just be yourself and have confidence. Don’t rely too heavily on fancy effects. A clearly presented video done in one shot without titles or effects is better than a video with so much music and graphics that it distracts from the subject. Keep your budget simple, too. A well planned, well lit video shot on a low end camera will be much better than a disorganized, shadowy mess shot in HD. If you don’t have space or decent lighting in your home, go outside. If you don’t own a camera check with your friends, local library or makerspace to see if they have equipment you can use. Work with what you have, but just do it. Learn by doing and experimenting- you can always shoot it again.

Sharing is an important part of making. Chances are you have learned a lot from others around you. Documenting your work is a great way to pay it forward and inspire someone else to try their hand at making something. Makers make makers!

Do your part or you’ll end up like Luigi da Vinci.

Remember him?

Meet the Maker: Carrie Boucher, of NOMADStudio

23 Mar

NOMADstudio Bus Logo

The diversity of Makers at this year’s DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit is truly wonderful, ranging from game makers to blacksmith artists to home scientists, and now a mobile art studio!  We’re very grateful that Carrie Boucher is bringing her amazing NOMADStudio art bus to Gulf Coast MakerCon.  

Here she tells us about her works with NOMADStudio and what she hopes to bring to Gulf Coast MakerCon, and check out her great TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2013 talk, below, about the power of freeing yourself of “the rules” and how that freedom unleashes creativity and achievement.

Carrie Boucher:  “I am an artist (metalsmith) and founder of NOMADstudio (the Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio). A crew of volunteers and I have converted a former Arlington Transit bus into a public art studio & classroom: the NOMAD Art Bus. Actually, the conversion is still underway, but we’re to the point that we can start getting the Art Bus out into the community so people can get on board, check it out and get creative with us!

NOMADstudio Debut at the 2014 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

NOMADstudio Debut at the 2014 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

“I founded NOMADstudio for several reasons. First of all I’ve always loved the idea of having an art studio on a bus. Building on that, after spending a year teaching art in an elementary/middle school environment I saw what lack of funding and focus on standardized tests were doing to our art classes. I was motivated to find a way to get more art programming out into our communities and saw the bus as a perfect vehicle to get us there…literally and figuratively.

“As the project developed it became clear to me that I wasn’t the only one who thought the idea of a studio on a bus was pretty cool. Just about everyone I spoke with got really excited about it and talked about what kinds of things they would like to do and see on the bus. So many jumped on board to help out because they wanted to see this idea become a reality. Right away it became a community project.

“We are really excited to be bringing the NOMAD Art Bus to MakerCon! When people discuss “maker culture” they often focus on artsthe modern technology aspect of it, but another fundamental aspect of it is creativity. Artistic endeavors are born from that same creative spirit and the lines between what artists do and makers do are often quite blurred…crafters and DIY-ers too, they are all innovators. Using your imagination to envision potential new uses for available raw materials, learning the skills to accomplish the project, then actually doing the work is the common equation used by all of these creatives. And getting them all to collaborate exponentially increases the potential for what can be created.

“That’s what makes events like Gulf Coast MakerCon really exciting! Being immersed in the DIY spirit is what NOMADstudio thrives on…and we love passing that spirit around…sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge! Get a group of creatives together and you’ve got a win-win every time!”

We couldn’t agree more!

Meet the Makers: The Florida Artist Blacksmith Association

22 Mar

FABAWe are very happy to welcome the Florida Artist Blacksmiths Association (FABA) to Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014.  This amazing group of artists teaches and promotes learning the skills of the blacksmith, and employing those skills for a variety of work ranging from the purely functional to the purely aesthetic.

We asked Blacksmith artist, Kirk Sullens, who will be representing the organization along with several other artists from around the state, to tell us about FABA and what they’re bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon.

“People become blacksmiths for as many reasons as there are blacksmiths,” Sullens said. ” A major factor for becoming a blacksmith is the satisfaction of learning to make projects entirely through your own skill.

FABA 2

Blacksmith Artist Kirk Sullens demonstrating his art.

“Being a blacksmith has value even in the modern age because it is a dynamic means of self expression as well as being extremely utilitarian. I like the mental challenge of working out which processes in what succession will be best to complete a project, as well as the physical challenge of actually applying those processes to raw materials and creating the project.”

FABA demonstrators will be bringing the basic equipment needed in a forge; hammer, anvil, and fire. Visitors will see bars of steel manipulated into a variety of forms, as well as seeing the demonstrators using tools made by themselves and other smiths. Demonstrators will discuss the basic processes of blacksmithing during the demonstrations, and tell the public how to get involved in the local and national blacksmithing community.

Come see what having a lot of irons in the fire really looks like!

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Meet the Maker: Ellie Willingham, of Frontier Furs

20 Mar

Ellie This year we have a Heritage Craft  area, highlighting Makers of a different kind: People with traditional skills and expertise in fields that at one time were the cutting edge of technology, expanding trade and exploration, and improving life in myriad ways.  One of these Heritage Crafters is Ellie Willingham,  of Frontier Furs, unusual both for her skills, and for her gender in her field,  which has traditionally been male dominated.    Ms. Willingham’s exhibit was among our most popular last year, and this year she’s expanded her booth to offer a broader educational experience at Gulf Coast Maker Con 2014.

We asked her to tell more about what she does and why she does it.  We hope you enjoy her insights as much as we did!

GCMC: What do you do?

FF: I am a furrier – I make all kinds of things out of fur! Everything from hats and other winter accessories, to costuming and re-enactment attire. I Fontier Furstrap and process many of the furs myself, and others I obtain by trading with other trappers or fur crafters. I sell my furs at many local events and also online. Clients will also send me their own pelts to have made into a customized product of choice.

GCMC: How long have you been doing it?

FF: I skinned my first animal – a road killed squirrel – in my early teens and decided then I wanted to become a professional taxidermist. I did taxidermy for years until it later proved too costly to continue. So I switched to fur crafting and have enjoyed it ever since!

GCMC: What do you like about your work?

FF: I love fur crafting for countless reasons. There are so many beautiful and practical items that can be made from fur and leather, the possibilities are endless. I’m a very outdoorsy person, and during the winter I enjoy spending almost every morning out on my trapline (an area of woods set with a number of traps for furbearing species)  I have a deep respect for these animals and all they provide. I use their fur, eat their meat, and take to heart everything I can learn from tracking and observing them in their habitats. For me, it is a very natural way of being.

GCMC: Why do you think what you do is important?

FF: Much of what I do tends to get a bad rap from the media and the animal rights communities, mainly because people simply don’t understand it or have no real experience with it. And people often fear or dislike what they don’t understand. So by openly sharing my craft and teaching others about what I do, it will help the general public gain a better knowledge of this trade and to understand that it’s not all about “killing”. More so, it’s about responsibly utilizing and managing our natural resources, and preserving a traditional way of life.

Natural fur is a very renewable resource. Animals reproduce constantly, and they produce an excess in order to keep their populations stable. However if the excess is not kept in check, either through natural depredation or human harvests, many species will begin to overpopulate, which inevitably leads to spread of disease or inbreeding. In some areas where there are little or no natural predators, hunting and trapping is the most effective means of managing prolific species such as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, beavers, opossums and others.

Also, real fur is a completely natural and biodegradable product, even when processed and tanned. If discarded in a landfill, a piece of real fur or leather will eventually break down and disintegrate from the weather. Faux fur on the other hand, as well as synthetic leathers, are comprised of man-made materials, typically containing petroleum and plastics, which will never decompose in our lifetimes.

GCMC: The “Maker”community is often equated with high tech topics, but we believe the makers of heritage traditions are equally important. Why do you think what you do and make has value to the DIY community?

FF: In this high-tech world, I think it’s very important for people to see the simpler side of things, to know that many traditional methods and crafts still exist and are still being used today because of their timeless reliability. The only way we can pass on these heritage traditions, and to keep them going, is to expose and teach them to our future generations.

GCMC: What kind of demonstrations will you be doing at GCMC?

I will be demonstrating how to process fur from start to finish, and will also give a few tips on how to properly prepare wild game meat. Using a freshly harvested raccoon and opossum, I will show how to skin these animals and dress the meat, then get the pelts prepared for tanning. You will also get to try a taste of my special raccoon jerky!

GCMC: Will you have any interactive components?

I will have a “touch table” with all kinds of fur pelts and examples of products that I’ve made out of fur, along with the above-mentioned samples of raccoon jerky for anyone to try. It’s surprisingly tasty!

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You can meet Ms. Willingham and learn more about her timeless craft at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5th & 6th.  Advanced discount tickets are available now – eventbrite button

 

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