Making and Makerspaces – a product/service review

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    • #2178
      Kirsty Roberts

      Having previously completed a Fine Arts degree and having lived in a creatively-inclined household growing up, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to create. It is for this reason that I find the maker movement, and its current emphasis in library spaces, so exciting.

      In the past I’ve been involved with quite a few craft-related maker communities (on Etsy and the more project-focused Craftsy – the latter of which I’m in the midst of working on this swimsuit project), so to challenge myself a little, I decided to go with something a little more technology-based. Outside of software, I’ve never really experimented with technology or electronics before (besides my brief foray into science during high school, that is) but I wanted to ensure that the project was something I would at least be confident in tackling myself.

      While not an information organisation in the traditional sense, the project I ended up taking on came from well-known online makerspace Instructables. Instructables is an online community that provides DIY projects for topics ranging from technology and furniture to costumes, food, arts and crafts and beyond. The benefit of using Instructables, I’ve found, is that many of those providing tutorials are DIY enthusiasts themselves and therefore able to provide better, more simplified instructions (or cheaper material alternatives!) than industry professionals. There’s rarely a sense of assumed knowledge with these maker movement projects and, even when there is, an option to fill this knowledge gap is often provided by someone in the community. This sense of collaboration, of everyone pitching in to help, is one of my favourite parts of the DIY world that’s started to emerge over the last decade and has really been encapsulated in the maker movement.

      On to my project – I selected this LED paper flower from glitterbug23 because I was assured that the circuitry was exceptionally simple (it was!) and I’m quite fond of creating paper flowers and anything that even vaguely resembles origami. I won’t bother rehashing the tutorial step-by-step in this post (you can look it up yourself), although I will provide you with review of my experience, complete with progress photos.

      Flower cut-outsFlower cut-out with LED diode

      Materials-wise, I didn’t have any significant issues. As promised by the project’s creator, the supplies needed were exceedingly easy to come by – I was able to buy the three pieces I didn’t already own (the LEDs, the 3V battery and the aluminium foil tape) from a nearby Jaycar Electronics. My only complaint at this stage is that glitterbug23 doesn’t offer any further information on the type of LED she chose to use – I went with a 5mm diffused red based on a quick Google search – but this wasn’t too much of a problem overall.

      Flower cut-out with LED diode attached to batteryFlower cut-out with LED diode attached to a switch

      The circuitry was, as promised, very simple to piece together and exactly as described in the instructions. I did make a small change with the ‘switch’ however, I added a strip of paper that I could slide between the battery and the positive lead of the LED to stop the current.

      Flower with LED light-up stamenTwo flowers with light-up LED stamens

      The finished product turned out better than I’d anticipated considering my lack of experience and I expect this was a direct result of how well-written and thought-out the instruction set was. I’d definitely recommend this project to those just starting out in the maker movement as it’s clearly been created with beginners in mind. I’d also recommend Instructables to those wanting to get involved in a makerspace but unable to make the physical commitment. It’s a very helpful, very welcoming collaborative community that really captures the essence of the maker movement.


    • #2216

      Wow Kirsty! I’m thrilled to discover Instructables – I’ve been looking for some simple and reliable tutorials I could use to do some creative activities with my son on RaspberryPi. Just wondering if this was a service you discovered via a library? Looks like this is the kind of project that would be easily achievable in a library makerspace. In a community of makers a graland of these gorgeous flowers would be a great result from a makerspace class! Does your local library offer this kind of class? But of course, as you say, not everyone can make the physical commitment to attend classes.

      Anyway, loved your pics and the finished product. In my full of boys “pretty” things are the exception rather than the rule so I need to work harder to keep them visible – projects like your would be ideal for me 🙂

    • #2225
      Deborah Fuller

      I loved your post Kirsty and  the photos are great, really inspiring. It was great how you thought outside the box and went for a non-library makerspace. I’ve added Instructables to my favourites and will certainly be exploring them more. I’m learning so much from the students forums, they are such a good idea.

    • #2242
      Stacey Larner

      Ooh awesome! I have an 8yr old who is a total maker, so I’m also going to bookmark and find something for her. Thanks!

    • #2255
      Katherine Lee

      How cool! I wish I had the fine motor skills to be a creator 🙂

    • #2307
      Saurav Khadka

      Hi Kristy, this was really an informative post! After going through your post I went through instructables’s website and found lots of activities that would be fun and worth learning. Thank you for sharing this information with us. Probably after this semester is over, I will try something out of it 😀

    • #2345
      Chris Sonneveld

      Hi Kirsty

      Thank you for sharing your makers experience. I’ve only just glanced over Instructables in the past so thanks for reminding me it existed so I could go back and have a good look. In the last few years I haven’t allowed myself time to be all that creative for the sake of enjoyment. Even though I have had the time I struggle to justify setting some aside to be creative without it needing to be feel as though I have to achieve something or completing it because its a priority. I’m starting to see that it’s not a waste of time and that any opportunity to be creative can only be beneficial because it allows us to use our brain in different ways.

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