Making is happening

so much depends
upon

a little
notebook

full of ideas

in your back
pocket

So sorry William Carlos Williams.  That was awful.

But you know what’s not awful?  A notebook for your ideas, sketches, and sundry observations.

Notebooks.  Essential.

Notebooks. Essential.

We made notebooks last week.  I didn’t do a formal lesson on how a notebook should be created.  There were no mandates on the number of pages or how it should be bound.  A variety of notebooks in a variety of sizes with a variety of bindings resulted.  They’re even being used.  WINNING!

Maddy's notebook

Maddy’s notebook (above)

Woody's notebook

Woody’s notebook (above)

Today we’re firing up the laser cutter to cut personal manifestos regarding making/creating (or what it means to be an artist, dancer, writer, hacker, musician, etc.)

I did a couple of test cuts this morning.  Here’s the laser cutter in action:

and a couple of test cuts…

Test cuts

Test cuts

Can’t wait to see how the class goes.

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Why do we make?

I don’t have a definitive answer to that question.  Maybe the answer lies in Shop Class as Soul Craft or some article I could find in JSTOR.  

I’m going to go out on a limb and give the non-committal answer that people make for different reasons:  necessity, compulsion to make something out of nothing, the challenge of the puzzle, curiosity, and maybe even the satisfaction of seeing a successful finished project after hours/days/weeks/months/years of invested time.

I don’t even know what I make these days.  I knitted in the past.  Dabbled in quilt-making.  I spent a summer during my undergrad years in the dorms during summer school.  One of my hall mates had a sock monkey from his youth (this was before Paul Frank, thanks).  I decided then that I had to have one too.  A lot of time was spent making sock monkeys and weird sock creatures for friends and family.

Weird sock creatures
Weird sock creatures

Having a kid has cut into my time to work on fiber/textile projects.  I dread (am intimidated by) home improvement projects.  Yet I find them to be really interesting once I’m immersed.  I spent a day one summer under the house rerouting a water line.  It made for a pretty interesting day once I got past the camel crickets in the crawl space.  What’s the most fascinating to me about these home improvement projects?  It’s a peek into how the guts of a house work.  It’s interesting to see how things are put together.  That’s really something I never cared about until I bought a house.

camel cricket
photo credit: lobstar28 via photopin cc

Lately I’ve been interested in projects that seem doable mainly because I don’t know enough about the topic at hand to feel otherwise.  An example?  Arduino.  Raspberry Pi.  WordPress.  Google searches and Youtube videos bring answers or at least more breadcrumbs.  The internet keeps the trail warm I guess.  At this early point I don’t even care if a finished project results.  It’s just cool to have something to sink my brain into.

The first rule of knit club…

A couple of teachers started a knitting club for students, facult, and staff.  A reminder email went out earlier in the week.  Tuesday night I ventured into the attic to pull out some yarn that I’ve stored away for the past three years.  I dusted off some knitting needles and cast on.

It was, as they say, like riding a bike.  God love you muscle memory.

I joined the knitters during the 45-minute clubs and committees period.  Kids passed by.  Some of them exclaimed, “I used to knit!”  Some of them said, “Oh!  I want to learn how to do that.”  A couple of kids sat down and called up their knitting stories.  A grandmother was often involved.  One of the history teachers–a self-proclaimed dabbler in the fibrous arts–pulled up a seat, showed off a picture of a quilt he made during a minimester in college.

Making: bringing people together since the beginning of time.

As stories were told, I knitted for the first time since 2009.  It all came out perfect.  No stitches were dropped.  A row that was pearled rather than knitted was fixed in a couple of minutes without help from anyone or a tutorial on Youtube.

swatch of simple stockinette stitch

That feels good.

I won’t deny feeling lost or adrift as of late.  Unmoored is a word my more educated colleague used.  Somewhere along the line I decided that it would be cool to learn about Arduino and Raspberry Pi.  Yes, I’d like to know how to solder a circuit board.  In fact, I’d like to know about resistors and capacitors and 555 timers.  Mastering WordPress sounded like a good plan too.  And because I know very little to nothing about any of the aforementioned things, it all seems very doable.  That it until one sits down with an electronics manual and quickly finds that the spare hour dedicated to doing this stuff has passed, and there’s no free time anywhere in the near future to pick it up again.

I’m doing this “learning new stuff” thing wrong.

I’m hesitant to say it, but maybe the question is why do I want to learn this new stuff anyway?  Is it just curiosity?  If so, can it wait until my son is in college (or at least old enough so we can figure it out together… assuming Arduinos are where Jobot’s interests lie).  Do I think it’s worthwhile to know this stuff so that I can share it with kids at school?  Yes, definitely, but do I need to be the ‘expert?*’

There was a time when curiosity was enough.  Though curiosity without free time creates nothing but dilettantes and wishes.

* Yes.  Yes I do.