Magic Afoot: Create your own Miniature Fairy Garden!

There exists a world where everything is possible; where fairies and woodland creatures rejoice together in peace and harmony. There is a place full of wonders and magic surrounded by enchanting forests, sparkle and bewilderment. Such a place does not abide only in our imagination and dreams, but it is present in our own gardens and backyards. The only thing needed for this world to come alive is just a pinch of your inspiration and wit. Here we provide you a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own marvelous fairy garden.

Fairy GardensContainers and Pots

 The first step to creating a wondrous fairy garden is choosing the right containers and pots. This will serve as the foundation for all other details needed to complete this magical setting. First you need to decide on the amount of containers you wish to set up. Make sure to pick out bigger sized pots so you would be able to add more details. Make use of old and broken pots and turn them into fairytale houses.

Potting Mix

The second thing you need to consider is your own choice of potting mix. This should include various choices of tiny rocks and stones, adequate type of soil and other elements such as activated carbon that will help clean and filter the water that does not get absorbed. You can also add different details like beads or pearls just to add a bit of charisma to it. Add a bit of dazzle and allure and make your trendy garden setting.

Plants

The best solution when it comes to choosing suitable plants for your magical fairy garden is making your choice diverse. The more the merrier they say. This way you will be able to create an enchanting surrounding for all the magical beings residing there. Go crazy with color and size of plants. The only thing you should keep in mind is to pick out plants that have the same growing requirements and that will grow well in your climate and area. Do not be afraid to experiment with different plant life so you would be able to design your own fairy oasis.Fairy Garden Collage

Decoration

 The last but certainly the most exciting part of the project is adding details and decoration according to your personal affinities and liking. Fairy figures, bird houses, stone paths and mushroom homes are only the beginning. Make sure to enter your own world of imagination and create a setting where everything is possible. Think of the most impressionable design ideas and use them in your miniature fairytale gardens. Miniature sculptures and figures accompanied by small details like windmills, benches, different lights and similar are also a great idea. There are no rules when it comes to decoration. It should reflect your own world of fantasy and imagery.

It does not matter if you are an adult and have your regular every day routines. We all are still part children who believe in magic and fairy tales.  So every time you need to escape from your difficulties you can find shelter and comfort by visiting your magical friends. It is the perfect opportunity to relive your favorite childhood moments and become carefree and lighthearted even just for a brief period of time.

Author’s Bio: Lana Hawkins is a student of architecture and a crafty girl from Sydney, Australia. She enjoys writing about landscaping and garden décor and she is especially interested in green building. Amazing gardens created by landscape design company from Sydney inspired her to write this article.  Lana loves spending her free time cooking for her friends.

 

Meet: Mark’s Art Car

Meet a Maker: Mark Moffett and the Fantastical Art Car

The Art Car parked at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette

The Art Car parked at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette

After a months-long struggle, we finally secured a car on August 8, 2015! A 1996 Volkswagen Golf. Thanks to Martha Lanaghen and Jeff Scott from MakerBolder!

My build partner for this pro ject is Jackson Ellis. Construction began on August 17 at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette. Jackson and I worked through the week, reconfiguring, removing and welding the skin. Our sheet metal and metal objects were donated by Uncle Benny’s Building Supplies, in Loveland.

Our first glueing event took place at Art Night Out in Lafayette, Friday, August 21. It was a great night and the town really embraced the project. Several members of the community participated. We painted some areas of the the car with chalkboard paint for those who wanted11924774_10153163792670698_1240388022519427465_n clean hands and clothes. We received donated objects from Sister Carmen, RAFT Colorado; and Art Parts Creative Reuse Center in Boulder. I purchased other materials at Goodwill Outlet World in Denver. Thanks to our host J Lucas Loeffler and Alloy Gallery!

The following night, we trekked to Denver for the Colorado Night Market. An audience participation, pop-up art show, held in the back of U-Haul Trucks! It was a very original, fun-filled evening. However, the most excitement came during our trip back to Lafayette, when we we’re pulled over by Westminister Police. Our tail-lights were on the fritz! Fortunately, they were more curious than anything. We were allowed to continue, as long as our support van had it’s flashers on! Thanks officers!

 Then, we trekked to the Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest where we visited with hundreds of people and worked with the materials we had collected.  More work is yet to come, and we’re always looking for donations for this car – or if you have an ol11887525_10153159427525698_5869335902549702919_od car you’d love to donate, we’re ready to start new projects as well.  Just email info@www.makerbolder1.dev to learn more.

Great objects include:

  • Happy Meal Toys
  • Action figures
  • Dolls and doll heads
  • Skeletons and skulls (plastic please!)
  • Multiples: shells, marbles, small rocks, corks, pennies
  • Mardi Gras beads and glass beads
  • Old jewelry and gems
  • Any interesting plastic items
  • Old damaged musical instruments

All items should be weather-proof and able to spend time in the Colorado sun.

Thanks for your interest and keep watching for updates!

Earth to Pluto – Cathy Olkin, Planetary Scientist to Speak at STEAM Fest

Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest is honored to present Cathy Olkin, of the Southwest Research Institute, at 4pm on Sunday, September 6th.

Cathy is a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO.   Her main topic of research is the outer solar system, specifically planetary atmospheres and surfaces.

Cathy enjoys chasing the shadows of stars to learn about planetary atmospheres through ‘stellar occultation’ observations. These events have taken Cathy to many exotic locations from Hawaii, to the Marshall Islands, Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.

She also enjoys studying the ices in the outer solar system.  On Pluto, Triton and other bodies, molecules that are usually in gaseous state on Earth are solid at the cold temperatures of the outer solar system.  Using infrared spectroscopy, spreading infrared light into its separate wavelengths, we can learn about these ices including methane ice, nitrogen ice, carbon monoxide ice and ethane ice.03_Olkin_01

Cathy didn’t always know that she wanted to be a planetary scientist.  As a child, she was interested in many different subjects including how things worked.  She liked to take household items (like the phone) apart.

Cathy attended MIT where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace and Aeronautical engineering in 1988.  She then proceeded to Stanford to earn a Masters degree in the same field.  After that, Cathy took a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked in the Navigation section on the Cassini mission (well before it launched).

Motivated by the exciting science of the Cassini mission, Cathy decided to go back to MIT to study planetary science.  She obtained her PhD at MIT in 1996 based largely on airborne astronomical observations used to study the atmosphere of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.

From there, she worked at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona investigating the rings of Saturn and using data from the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the mass ratio of Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) to Pluto.

NH_NationalAirAndSpaceMuseumCathy now works at Southwest Research Institute where she is currently the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto.  Working on New Horizons is the perfect job for her, combining her background in engineering and her scientific interests. The spacecraft traveled more than 9 years and 3 billion miles to reach the Pluto system. This summer, New Horizons spacecraft flew through the Pluto system taking the first ever high-resolution images of Pluto and its surface.  The data from the encounter with the Pluto system is continuing to be returned to the ground, and we can already see that this information has transformed our understanding of the Pluto system.

Meet a Maker: HyPars

denny and elliotMeet Denny, Isaac and Mitzi Newland, The startup team for HyPars LLC. We are two dads, a mom, a husband and wife team, a semi-retired nuclear engineer, a very retired customer service manager, a tech support specialist and soon, professional toymakers!isaac and mitzi

What do you make?

HyPars, the cool name for hyperbolic paraboloids. They are geometry based building toys that we hope the world will soon come to love.

How did you get started making and why?

Denny invented the toys and needed a lot of help getting them to market. Mitzi got involved with the technical writing and Isaac pitched in. We’ve just been taking on more roles as they come up. Turns out there are a lot of hats to wear.

bloom bouquetWhat’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

When Denny started, he thought he had put together every type of creation possible with HyPars. As soon as we showed them to new people, the ideas began flooding in! It’s great to see that everyone has amazing ideas and we’re happy to share in them. Mitzi’s favorite so far is the Helical Coil that a future geneticist made. Love it!

What is your advice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?

Perseverance is required

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

Seeing the ideas that people have come to life firsthand!

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?twisted

Hopefully, we will be creating our toys in our brand new building in Longmont, Colorado. We’ve secured land just east of Sandstone Ranch and should be breaking ground on the building within the next year!

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

Hyperbolic paraboloids do not always lend themselves to creating the exact shapes you want. We still haven’t found a good way to make a cube shaped box, but we’re working on it.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

The owners of Zometools! We’re huge fans.

Meet a Maker: Boxwood Pinball

Boxwood Pinball is made by Bill and Travis, two artists that love pinball and use their talents to create the most amazing handcrafted wooden pinball machines.

William Manke owner of Boxwood Pinball is a kinetic sculptor. I enjoy the learning process and craftsmanship of woodworking. I spend my days inventing pinball machines and honing my craft.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.29.52 AMWhat do you make?
I make wooden pinball machines that use board game style rules.

How did you get started making and why?
Boxwood Pinball started as an artist collaboration between William Manke and Travis Hetman. We both love playing pinball and use our skills to create our own machines.

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?
Pinball designer Barry Oursler, who has games all over the world, described it as “The Flintstones” come to life.

What is your advice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?
The most important part of being a creator is being CREATIVE, show me something no one else has seen.10151892_282983288528537_3560899948052722914_n

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?
The maker movement is all about the melding of art and science, science lets your imagination come alive.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?
Young makers are all about limitless possibilities, using technology is second nature to them, and they will take us places we never dreamed of.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?
Robotic Dinosaurs.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Albert Einstein11164789_433992793427585_988850267037516284_n

Boxwood Pinball will be joining us at this year’s Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest. If you’re interested in sponsoring the creation of a LIFE SIZE (6′ tall) multi-player pinball game, email Anne@MakerBoulder.com!

Meet a Maker: Hypatia Studio

Hypatia-smiles-1-of-1-216x300Hypatia Studio is a husband-and-wife team of Matt Roesle and Mahi Palanisami. We are both mechanical engineers by training. Mahi has worked in construction and HVAC design, and is interested in documentary radio and film as well as dance. Matt has researched heat transfer and fluid flow, and is interested in all most things nerdy. We’ve known each other for about eight years, have been married for two, and started our 3D printed jewelry business a little over a year ago.

What do you make?

We use 3D printing to make mathematical jewelry and sculpture. Our designs are based on geometrical concepts such as Platonic solids or braids, or are direct embodiments of equations like strange attractors or fractals, or are derived from simulations of physical things like water flow or sound waves. I usually write our own software to make the 3D models of our designs, have them 3D printed using an online printing service, and then do finishing work and assembly.

How did you get started making and why?3D printed_Hypatia Studio_fancy clean platonic solid earrings

I’ve always been interested in building things. I started learning computer programming, in BASIC, at about age 8; and for as long as I can remember I’ve loved to take things apart to see how they work. (Successfully putting them back together came later!)

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make? 

Recently we had the opportunity to show some of our jewelry in a fashion show at RAW Denver. The hair artist also took some strange attractor sculptures I had made, and wove them into the models’ hair as fantastic hair pieces. I never would have thought to do that!

What is your adv3D printed_Hypatia studio_Julias scaffoldice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?

The most important thing to have is hands-on experience, and the best way to get it is to just start trying to make things. At first the things you make might not work more often than they do work, but if you can figure out what went wrong and learn something from it, you haven’t failed. (Even though it might not feel like it at the time.) Theoretical knowledge, like you get through a college education, is helpful too, but you will get more from college if you have practical and life experience first.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

I really like how the maker movement encourages people to just go out and try things. You don’t need formal education, fancy tools, or a big workshop to make really cool things. I also like how the proliferation of hacker spaces and events like the Rocky Mountain STEAMfest emphasize local co3D printed_Hypatia Studio_Silver swoop ringmmunity-building. The local can get lost in this age of national TV networks and the global Internet. Most of us will never be on national TV or in a magazine like MAKE or get 15 seconds of fame by going viral, but we can play an important and lasting role in our own community by helping, teaching and mentoring, and celebrating each other.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

Right now we are trying to grow our jewelry business enough to support us as a full-time business. In three to five years, I hope that we will have succeeded in that, and we will be starting to think about and plan our next endeavor – what that will be, I have no idea yet.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

I made the 3D p3D printed_Hypatia Studio_choker bronze steelrinter we have at home, and we use it to make prototypes of some of our designs and some larger sculpture pieces. But it can’t really handle small or intricate designs, and I wish I knew how to make the kind of printer that can print small, detailed parts in wax or a more durable plastic like nylon!

Inventions we Love! Matrix Flare

We had so much fun at Denver Mini Maker Faire!  We saw tons of great new things, and met interesting people that are working on creative and wonder-inducing new inventions.

One of our favorites is Matrix Flare (and they’ve signed up to exhibit at the upcoming STEAM Fest – so be sure to join us and check them out!)

We interviewed Tasha Bingman and learned more about Matrix Flare.  We hope you’ll support her Kickstarter campaign.  We think you’ll be inspired by her story.

An idea is born
matrix.cubes

Matrix Flare cubes show off their creative animations and artwork created in the Pixel Maker App.

Tasha initially created this project for her 7 year old so he could learn about circuits, programming, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and still be able to create art quickly.  He enjoys it so much she thought it would be a fantastic Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) project.  After they’d created a couple of them, they realized that they were playing with the animations so much they figured others would enjoy them as well. Read more

The Lessons of Lock Picking

maxresdefaultAt the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, we hosted a lock picking table.  Adults and children alike sat for hours experimenting with locks and practicing their lock picking skills.  One of the parents at the event questioned our judgement stating that lockpicking is promoting illegal behavior.

That really got us to thinking.  Is she right?  Why would we encourage illegal behavior?

We sat down and examined the sport of lock picking (called locksport – see http://locksport.com/), and the value and virtue of lock picking as an activity.  Here are the reasons that we love lockpicking and why we’ll have it again at The Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest in September.

Criminals don’t take time to pick locks.  Statistics show that crooks don’t pick locks (technically “non-destructive entry”), they break windows, kick doors, or cut padlock hasps (“destructive entry”). The criminals don’t have the patience to learn a skill which will slow them down in the act of stealing things.

Locksmithing is a legitimate profession.  Locksmithing — the art of fixing locks, which often means picking them — is a legitimate, sometimes profitable, legal profession.  One of the goals of our STEAM Fest is to connect young people that are exploring their career options – or adults that are looking for a new career, to possible professions.

A lock is a complex mechanical device. Really, a lock is a puzzle. Our lockpicking exhibit has “open sided” locks that allow participants to see the insides of a lock. Participants have an opportunity to see how the tumblers and locking mechanisms actually work — this familiarizes them with the functionality, and gives them insight into why these devices protect their belongings and property.  It might also help them to identify locks that are not as secure, as well as those that are.

Because locks are complex mechanical devices (puzzles), they require problem solving skills to both open, and close.  A younger child will enjoy closing and opening a lock with a key (which was also provided at the table), while his or her older sibling, (or any one of the dozens of adults that were interested in the locks), will enjoy multiple approaches to solving the puzzle at their fingertips.  Problem solving is a critical skill (in life), and a skill that has been identified by dozens of career success reports as lacking in American adults.

It’s important to learn persistence.  Part of being a proficient problem solver (and of being a productive member of society), is the skill of failing, and learning to persist and to try again. If you visit a lock picking exhibit, you will observe all of the participants are failing many times, until they find a solution that works — and then they’ll do that two or three times (often with an expression of delight on their faces).  This determination and persistence is important to learning outcomes, and lock picking is a terrific way to give kids (and adults), a taste of it, without being so frustrating that they are angry.

Everyone likes the joy of accomplishment. Because lock picking exhibits typically include some relatively easy locks to pick, most people got to enjoy success with the task — giving them a sense of pride, joy, and accomplishment — as great event-planners, we want folks to get as many of these opportunities as possible.

There is a large contingent of people around the world that participate in the sport of lock picking — check out http://locksport.com/ – they have competitions around the globe — these are all sporting and professional men and women who love the challenge of a good puzzle — they are not criminals, nor are they advocating or participating in destroying security, privacy, or personal property.

Activities like lock picking can stimulate great conversations. Any child (or adult), that is concerned about the illegal uses of lock picking, can facilitate a great conversation about “good” activities and “bad” ones — some lock picking is illegal and NOT OK — but that same activity, in a legal and constructive environment, can be a fantastic learning tool. We’re also excited to provide activities like this that get people talking about important and complex issues.

Join us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest and try your hand at a lock or two yourself!

We Built This (Cardboard) City…

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Cardboard City Bridge is a success!

05/28/2015 – Eric Gundersen

Balance, patience, and plenty of coffee are indispensable when it comes to constructing a 16’ x 16’ city out of cardboard in about 16 hours.  That is the mission before us at the second annual Denver Mini Maker Faire (coming up on June 13 and 14).  Eight of us gathered on a cold and rainy day in May for our first preparation/prototyping session and learned much during those four swift hours.

Lesson #1: Safety, safety, safety

Two finger tips were lost in the first 30 minutes – fortunately they only belonged to a glove while the hand inside was left unscathed.  Cardboard is dense and even with sharp knives it requires a fair amount of strength to cut.  Always keep your blade sharp.  If cutting becomes a challenge dispose of the blade properly and replace it with a fresh one.  Retract your blade or store safely between cutting sessions.  I had a friend who required multiple stitches after stepping on an X-Acto blade stored in a coffee mug, blade up, on the ground.

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At work on the prototype Cardboard City

We used hot glue to affix cardboard to cardboard which takes time to set.  The glue can get up to 380⁰ F.  Instead of risking burns use binder clips to hold your pieces as they cool.  Also, remember to unplug your glue gun immediately after use.

Lesson #2: Cutting

A straight edge or L-square is beneficial for making long cuts.  Make two passes on the cut so you don’t have to use as much pressure.  To make a clean corner for a fold, score the interior of your piece by making a shallow, straight cut.

Lesson #3: Creature Comforts

Working on your hands and knees can get uncomfortable.  Consider using knee pads or gardening kneeling pads.  Coffee also hits the spot.

Lesson #4: Balance
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Our prototype in progress!

Our team is fairly diverse with a variety of skillsets.  Some of us are more technical and some more artistic and everyone has strengths & weaknesses.  We organically broke up into three smaller groups to tackle infrastructure (base plates), landmark pieces (a skyscraper and suspension bridge), and “greebling”/”gingerbread” details in parallel.

It… was… sloooow.  After four hours (nearly 25% of our allotted time) we had:

  • 8 houses
  • 1 swing set w/ slide
  • 5 trees
  • 1 classy above ground swimming pool
  • 2 base plate platforms
  • 1 skyscraper w/ water tower
  • 1 bridge that took 10 minutes to make
  • ½ a bridge that took 2 hours to make

We learned that a bargain must be struck between quality and speed.  Work too fast and it looks like junk, while painstakingly obsessing over getting all the details right takes way too long.

As we made ready to leave and looked across all the modest structures we realized that it’s the city that we’re making; not the house or tree or skyscraper.  The flaws are absorbed by the scope, variety and whimsy of the landscape.  These pieces make up the whole just as your companions’ participation make up the experience.

We’re going to create an assembly line process to accelerate building the building of 144 houses, our goal.  We’re going to separate into groups for mass production (speed) and unique landmark pieces (quality).  Perhaps you’ll visit us at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on June 13th & 14th, or better yet roll up your sleeves and give us a hand.

If one day you find yourself building a city out of cardboard remember to be creative, be patient, encourage your partners and have fun!

Editor’s Note: See the Cardboard City, and many other curiosities (you can even build your own cardboard creation), at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on Saturday June 13 and Sunday June 14 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Join MakerBoulder and Level(3) in some maker magic!

Meet a Maker: Martha with Maker Boulder

I am a serial entrepreneur with three small start-ups under my belt (well, one of them is not a startup anymore as we’ve been in business for over five years). My first venture is my ongoing education consulting firm. The second is an electronic word game – similar to Scrabble, that you play on your computer or phone, only it has some unique rules, and the third is MakerBoulder, we produce events and activities that connect people to hands-on learning.

What do you make?

In addition to making businesses, I am a “try-anything-once” crafter – I’ve done a lot of scrapbooking, needlework, sewing, and photography, and I dabble in duct tape, gardening and a few other random crafts. I also love to cook.

How did you get started making and why?

I don’t have a choice, really. I can’t sit idle. Even in front of the TV. My mind needs to be creating something, so I keep trying new things. Some stick for a while, and some are abandoned (even before they are finished sometimes).

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

I wear this silly duct tape apron to a lot of events. It’s been photographed over two dozen times, and once a mother and daughter made me stand there while they talked about their own – before I could leave, they had each designed their own projects, and made a plan to get together to make their own. It actually made me feel really great – to see them creating in action, and to see how excited they were to try to make one on their own. That’s what this is all about – get your hands dirty, try things out, iterate, etc.

What is your advice to people looking to do what you do or make what you make?

Just do it. The first one won’t be perfect. The next one will be better. No matter what, you’ll feel great about making something.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

The look in someone’s eyes when they discover something new, or when they accomplish something for the first time. “I did it!”

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I hope it is just like it is today. That I get to try lots of new things, dabble in a few favorites, and with any luck, work with others to help them try things, too.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

Well, I’ve always wished I could make great music – but I can’t sing, and I can’t seem to learn to read music, so that’s a struggle. Aside from music, I’d love to learn to work with metals – silversmith, or even heavy metals – welding. So cool.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Meryl Streep. Sandra Bullock. The CEO of Tech Stars. My Mom.