Caught on Tape: Daring Feats of Science & Craft!

Categories: Authors on tour, Crafts and hobbies, Education, Family, Fun and games, How-to, How-to video, Kids, News, Science, Video

Okay. You’re going to think I’m obsessed with Maker Faire. And maybe I am. Or maybe the crafty holiday spirit is to blame. Around this time of year, I like to give gifts with a handmade touch — be they cookies, knitted goods (points for effort?), toys, or any number of household items crafted from repurposed fabric. So my apartment inevitably turns into a miniature Santa studio…. And what is Maker Faire, really, but a giant workshop bustling with high-octane elvish makers?

Relive the highs via this video by Workman designer Kevin Davidson. Featuring! Allen Kurzweil and son Max demonstrating laws of physics and optics in Potato Chip Science! Megan Nicolay transforming a T-shirt from Generation T: Beyond Fashion–while someone is actually wearing the T-shirt!

Perhaps they will inspire you to make something (explosions? fashion?) this holiday season. Back at the Workman compound, we’re busy making books to make all those things possible!

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Spotlight on: Author Megan Nicolay @ World Maker Faire 2010

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games

A Pinup Girl halter (project #1, Generation T: Beyond Fashion!) is born.

Avery sports a fabulous new halter top!

By now you may think you know all about our exploits at World Maker Faire (that festival of DIY and creativity that we just can’t stop blogging about), but put that thought away, because we have one more! In this last Author Spotlight, I’m excited to share Megan Nicolay, author of Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt and Generation T: Beyond Fashion, who drew quite the crowd to our booth.

Megan was on hand both Saturday and Sunday to demonstrate T-shirt refashioning techniques and to autograph copies of her books. Her scissors glinting in the midday sun, Megan made quick work of several leftover T-shirts–cutting them on live models in front of awed spectators!

One such hit was the Pinup Girl halter, project #1 from Generation T: Beyond Fashion, which Megan first tackled on Workman editorial assistant Avery, and then transformed on some members of the crowd. *Snip* the right sleeve disappeared… *snip* a diagonal cut slashed from the neck to the right armhole… *twist* the former sleeve went over her head… and ta-da! New adorable halter top! It was finished with the addition of a Camp Make button from our booth’s button-making machine (yes, button-making machine). In the spirit of the fair, our design team created button templates that celebrated our many books. “Make monsters,” “make puppets,” “make robots,” “make fun,” were just a handful of the options… and, of course, for Generation T, “make fashion.”

Make horizontal cuts...

Another hit was Back in Action, project #101 (also from Gen T: Beyond Fashion), a lattice-work design that you may have seen on many a department store-manufactured tee. It’s amazing how horizontal slits and some simple weaving can turn a boring shirt into a work of art. Once Megan snipped through the fabric to create the slashes you see on the right, she pulled the tee horizontally, and–voila! Any jagged edges left from cutting off the T-shirt hem or sleeve rolled into practically straight perfection with a simple tug and a stretch.

Weave strands...

Fans of all ages took home project cards for inspiration, and some even left with their own refashioned T-shirt (check out those lucky ladies below)! Those who bought books carried away their own pair of Generation T scissors–fancy scissor sheath included for easy transport–to create for themselves a new wardrobe out of piles of old, tired tees.

The refashioning demonstrations were such a big hit that Megan (and Camp Make) got some worthy press! Thanks to Megan, Time Out NY got a snapshot of our booth (#18). She was also featured as an earth-friendly DIY expert at  Be sure to check out her website for her own recaplets of the weekend.

Though the weekend is over, visions of tees and scissors still linger in the minds of the Workman volunteers. In fact, the Workman “Camp Make” crew had tees on the brain even before we got to Maker Faire! In a rash of creativity (see evidence below), we personalized tees that read “A T-shirt is a terrible thing to waste” and wore them all weekend long as our uniform.

A T-shirt is, indeed, a terrible thing to waste.

All in all, it was a very successful weekend. Our puppets, potato propulsion pipes, squiggle bots, and fashionistas scored us an Editor’s Choice award for our busy and interactive booth!

Now, surely you have a tired T-shirt in the back of your drawer that could use some slash and flash?

Matching latticework!

Megan did some on-the-spot refashioning for a few lucky fans.

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Spotlight on: Author Randy Sarafan @ World Maker Faire 2010

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, News

As you may have guessed from yesterday’s post about Allen Kurzweil’s tubular science experiments, Maker Faire certainly brought out the little (or big!) geek in all of us. The range of “makers” was impressive. While robots frolicked on the pavement, burgeoning yarn-bombers learned to knit at Lion Brand Yarn. A PopSci Fireball Gun roared with flames at the push of a button, while the editors of Martha Stewart Living constructed enormous plaster dinosaur bones. Everywhere exhibitors and participants were bombarded with a fusion of science and art.

Randy Sarafan strums sweet melodies on the Gamer Guitar (project #47).

It’s fitting, then, that we had Randy Sarafan and his book 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, a celebration of tech and craft, nearby all weekend. Though he was a permanent fixture at his own Instructables booth, Randy stopped by Workman’s “Camp Make” to sign autographs and wow crowds with the creative projects in his book.

His sidekick, the lovable Squiggle Bot, also graced us with his artistic presence. Kids of all ages–yes, even some of our staff–enjoyed creating Squiggle Bot art (each one is unique!). Budding techno-crafters could take home their artistic creations, proudly stamped with an official Dead Computer rubber stamp, along with instructions on how to make their own squiggling doodler out of a computer fan, a battery, four markers, and googly eyes, of course.

The Squiggle Bot eyes his masterpiece.

If you’re now inspired to do something productive with the turquoise iMac that’s collecting dust in the recesses of your closet, definitely turn to the book for further instruction. My personal favorite is the Music Monster, project #43–a furry little guy with the eyes of a speaker and the mouth of a (functioning) CD player!

Be sure to check out the press accolades and blog tutorials that honored Randy and his artfully scientific projects after Maker Faire wrapped up! And stay tuned for even more Maker Faire highlights next week, as we feature Noel MacNeal’s 10-Minute Puppets, Megan Nicolay of Generation T, and more!

Dead Computer stickers: the pinnacle of Maker Faire fashion.

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