One of the most exciting and engaging aspects of living and working in a city like Baltimore is having the opportunity to be involved in so many amazing and inspiring organizations. Over the past couple weeks, two organizations that I hold very close to my heart, both of whom inspire and enrich the communities that surround them through making, came together for a brief but awesome new collaboration.
Make Studio is a community-based art center and studio located in Hampden that provides programming, studio space, and exhibition opportunities to artists with disabilities. Artists involved in Make Studio make and use a wide range of materials and processes and exhibit their work throughout the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic region. Make Studio is celebrating the aesthetics and concerns of artists commonly typed as “outsiders”, and bringing visibility to their observations and points-of-view, and essential asset to the vibrancy of our cultural sector.
DHF staff members Amber, Jonathan, and Darius joined me in a visit to Make Studio to introduce a Tinkercad and 3D printing as a new form of making that potentially could be a new and inspiring process for artists to experiment with. Several artists got their feet wet exploring 3D modeling and how it translates to the ideas and imagery they use in their studio practice.
Jerry Williams, also known by his alter-ego “Partyman” is a long time member of Make Studio and an avid painter and sculptor often working with found materials. He is inspired by WWE, the circus, as well as superheroes, and for a long time has been developing a series of Batmobile inspired sculptures from styrofoam and found materials. Tinkercad was an interesting new opportunity to see how these designs would translate onto the computer with 3D modeling and into a 3D print. “This was my first time using Tinkercad, I could see this as a special feature on the Batman DVDs. I really enjoyed doing the tutorials in Tinkercad. I like working with new technology, this might be something I use to create a logo for my future art organization Williams Art Enterprizes. I would be interested in making more models of the Batmobile!”
Aimee Eliason originally began her artistic pursuits in oil painting and has since explored a wide variety of mediums including painting sculpture, crocheting, digital art and photography. She is fascinated by textures and can be inspired by something as subtle as the wrinkles on a piece of paper. Much of Aimee’s subject matter involves animals and/or anime, in Tinkercad she chose to develop (princess??) which not only turned out awesome, but also floored DHF staff members with how quickly she was able to pick up 3D modeling to create complex forms. “I loved Tinkercad and will use it again, there are so many exciting things to make!”
Similarly, Dasha Kalumuck who joined Make Studio in 2015 picked up Tinkercad very quickly and was able to make some really fantastic characters. Dasha likes to take ideas and concepts and put her own spin on them in order to give the viewer a different perspective and as an artist is often using these skills to create character designs. Dasha uses many two-dimensional mediums including watercolor, acrylic, markers, sharpies, colored pencils, and collage but through the workshop was very inspired by 3D modeling as well. “I enjoyed Tinkercad a lot, it was super easy and fun! I am definitely doing this again, definitely! I was happy to just jump in and try something new. Seeing things I designed turn into real 3D things I can hold is amazing!”
Louis Middleton often is found painting at Make Studio, but also has had a lot of experience working with computers. With the support of his family, Louis operates his own photo restoration business and has long enjoyed taking his own photographs, and now at Make Studio he is working to advance his computer skills, digitally manipulating photographs and original imagery, discovering new ways to express himself. Louis has many interests, but is often inspired by architecture and buildings he sees around Baltimore and that he finds online. After getting familiar working with Tinkercad, Louis tried out creating his own building based upon a painting he was already working on in the studio. “The experience was pretty good, I made a building from a painting that I have been working on and I had fun doing it”
Margie Smeller knew a little bit about 3D printing before from her uncle who runs a makerspace in San Antonio however this was the first time she had the opportunity to try it out herself. Playing around in Tinkercad it was interesting to see how the colors and shapes drew similarities to the colors and patterns that can be found in her work. She was also able to create a 3D printed keychain for herself.
Gary Schmedes is a big fan of animation and is inspired by animation classics. In his work he primarily uses pen, ink, and watercolor and therefore was a little skeptical about any 3D modeling or computer based work. Despite this, he dove into Tinkercad, learning how to create different forms and ultimately produced this awesome print based on a character he has been working with. “Tinkercad was a good website, designing on it was neat. I designed a toad named Mr. Toad, although if I were to do this again I would have given him arms. It was really fun to create my own character in 3D, maybe for future projects I will use Tinkercad again.”
We had a fun time with our Mini Makers this fall as we explored circuits and electronics in the Circuit Adventures course!
We kicked off the program by exploring objects that contain electrical circuits and identifying what exactly was making them work. On our first day we broke apart thrift store electronics like toys, remotes, phones radio’s etc. Youth had a blast tearing these objects apart and were able to identify some of the main components of the electrical circuits.
From there, youth began constructing their first basic circuits in the program. We talked about open and closed circuits and, very importantly, how to avoid a short circuit. Mini Makers also learned what voltage, current, insulators, conductors, and grounds are and why they are important aspects of successful circuits.
These simple LED circuits were also a fun way to try out a variety of switches including push/button switches, toggle switches, and flip switches.
Mini Makers then embarked on an exciting journey into electromagnets and DC motors. Youth used their new skills to make fishing games using paper clip fish and electromagnet fishing poles, shimmying vibrobots, and personal spin art machines using DC motors. In these units we discussed questions like, “What is the difference between direct current and alternating current?”, “How does an electromagnet work?”, and “What is happening inside a motor to make it run?”. We loved seeing kids get to express their creativity and show of their new electronics skills!
Later on in the course, youth had the chance to explore innovative and alternative materials for creating circuits. Mini Makers used conductive ink, LED stickers, and copper tape to make cards for various occasions that could light up at the press of a button.
Now for the fun part, Makey Makey! Over several weeks, groups of youth worked together to develop designs for multiplayer boardgames powered by Makey Makey programmable circuit boards. After collaboratively planning out their game on paper, then constructing the components from cardboard and aluminum foil, students programmed the Makey Makey’s to create a “don’t complete the circuit” game. These games were variations on the classic game “Operation”, but with their own unique twist. Once all the games were completed, we invited older DHF youth, staff, and visitors to come play-test the games.
For the final project in Circuit Adventures, youth worked together to create a Circuit City. Together, they all planned out what would be included in their city and each individually took responsibility for building different components. Depending on what they were making, students incorporated lights, switches, buzzers, sound, and spinners to bring their cities to life.
Overall, this was an exciting course for us to run with our Mini Makers and we look forward to iterating on it and bringing it back in the future!
We wrapped up our Mini Maker Maker Camps with Game Design! Like all the camps preceding, this camp did not disappoint. Our Mini Makers are so knowledgable when it comes to what makes a game fun we found that they were teaching us new skills daily and it was a blast!
During this camp we focused on the fundamentals of game design. Why do we enjoy playing games? What makes a game fun? How do we find the balance between challenging enough and too hard it’s no longer fun to play? We spent 2 weeks finding answers to those questions.
To start off the camp we focused on playground games, hand games, and boardgames. We worked to really solidify the structure of games; the objective, setup, and rules. The Mini Makers worked hard to develop and create many games, but focused on one board game in particular.
They started off using whiteboards and graph paper to begin the board design and documenting their objective for the game as well as setup and rules. (We really enjoyed using our MC Squares whiteboards for this project because they are so easy to use and easily contained, and everyone can have their own!)
Once they did multiple test runs of their games they started working endlessly on their final game design. They all continued doing test runs throughout the remainder of camp.
It would be an understatement to say the Mini Makers were excited to begin video game design, for majority of them this was the reason they signed up for Game Design Maker Camp.
For many Mini Makers, programming a video game is a brand new skill set. We used a free web-based software, Scratch, to create our video games. For young makers this is an excellent entry level to coding and script writing. This program challenged them to really read through their script in order to understand what they were programing their Sprite (character) to do.
Our objective for this camp was to have each Mini Maker create and develop three distinct computer games: a collision/dodging game such as “Frogger,” or “Crossy Road,” a racing game or beat the clock where their sprite needed to make it to the finish line by a certain time, and a combination game where they put all their skills together to create a game that had obstacles to dodge or collect, a set time, score, or lives, and multiple levels. With each game they were given a outline to how the game could be set up, but this was a time when they could really build their game geared toward their own skill levels.
As we spent over a week working on our computer games we found our Mini Makers showing us easier codes that they found useful to use instead of ones we may have originally shown them. As instructors we found ourselves learning right along with the campers making each day new and exciting for all!
By the end of camp both board and computer games were done and ready to show off! Our end-of-camp Celebrations are always a blast and give our Mini Makers a chance to show off their skills, their final projects, and really teach their parents and family the knowledge they’ve gained.
Overall, this was a very successful Maker Camp session and a fantastic way to cap off a very full and exciting summer of learning, discovery, and making!
Our first Film Making Maker Camp was such a success we added another session at the end of July! This particular group of Mini Makers once again proved to us that it doesn’t matter your age if given a challenge and the means to succeed anyone can create!
We followed the same structure as our first Film Making Maker Camp session; storyboarding, script writing, prop making, filming, and editing were all parts of this camp. Between their Movie Trailers and Stop Motion videos every Mini Maker found something they excelled in when it comes to film making.
I hope you enjoy their videos as much as we enjoyed making and editing them!
2D Design to 3D Printing Camp is always a favorite. For the majority of the Mini Makers it will be their first time 3D printing!
In the Mini Makers program we are continually mixing tech skills with hands on activities to help develop a strong understanding so when working on the computer they have some physical example to fall back on.
We started camp off learning exactly what 1D, 2D, and 3D is. We investigated how to find those simple 2D shapes in the world around us to help design our 3D forms, whether we printed them or built them by hand.
As you step into the world of 3D printing it is beneficial to know what exactly the 3D printer is doing. 3D printing is an additive process, adding material layer by layer to create a 3D form. The opposite is subtractive manufacturing, better known to many as carving. Our Wikki Stix and Soap carving projects really get the Mini Makers excited to create. We probably spent the remainder of the camp sessions finding bugs all around the room hanging from all over.
2D design is key when helping young and even old Makers create. To be able to take a simple 2D drawing and create a 3D object takes skill so we find Legos to be a great building tool. Our Mini Makers build from blueprints to help understand the importance of making instructions clear so that others can build your design.
As they created their own blueprints many found it helpful to add more angles of their object, step by step instructions, and even what bricks they used layer by layer in order for their neighbor to recreate their design. This project shows the importance of really thinking through a design.
Sticking with our objective of 2D design to 3D printing our MiniMakers began designing bubble-wands. By now they see how helpful it is to have multiple designs, to work out as many bugs as possible before beginning manufacturing. We use a free web based program called DoodleFab to take our 2D drawings of our bubble-wands to create an SVG file that we can than convert to a STL file to download and 3D print!
With any project we tackle we focus on design, manufacturing, testing, and improving what we create. Everything we 3D printed we tested. We made bubble wands using DoodleFab, cookie cutters using Cookie Caster (free web based program), and bowls using Tinkercad.
Here in the NanoLab the Mini Makers use Tinkercad as our go to 3D printing program. We love that it’s free and user friendly. Our Mini Makers are able to continue their 3D design skills at home they learned during their short 2 week camp session. By the end of camp every Mini Maker felt comfortable enough to show off their skills they developed when it comes to 2D to 3D printing. Not only surprising their parents and family with their knowledge but our staff here at DHF were blown away with their skills.