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
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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.

Meet a Maker: Rachel with the Cotery

meet a maker element

PhotoMeet RACHEL (friends call her Ray-Chill… no they don’t, but she wishes they did)

Rachel is The Cotery’s Community Manager. She previously was the Small Event Coordinator for Teach for America’s Giving Committee in New Orleans during her time as a corp member. She studied Business Administration and Political Science in the Tennessee mountains, where she grew up with a love of bluegrass music and buttermilk biscuits.

What do you make?

The Cotery is an online platform for creatives to design and presell garments. Basically, we use fashion to give talented folks a creative outlet for their art, photography, or general design ideas. Once they have designed a garment on our website, they presell it. After the sales minimum is met, we manufacture and ship their design. It allows designers to explore the fashion industry without risk. It also allows customers to get really unique garments made in the USA.

LeggingsHow did you get started making and why?

The Cotery started because the founders (Char Genevier and Tricia Hoke) realize that there is a barrier to entry in the apparel industry for many great and talented artists. The Cotery is the bridge between these artists and the fashion industry. We empower creatives to design without worrying about the time-consuming, complex, and expensive aspects of fashion. I joined the team because, as a former teacher, I have a deep appreciation for empowering others, and the Cotery’s goal really resonated with me. Because there’s no up-front costs, inventory investment, or manufacturing contracts for these independent designers, they are able to actually succeed in the fashion world, without risking everything.

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

Oh man, some of the designs we get are absolutely incredible. My favorite design so far would probably be these leggings. The design is the topography of the Red Rocks National Park in Colorado. Damon Redd created his company, Kind Design, to share his appreciation for the surrounding areas and outdoor sports, and he does a beautiful job bringing his passions into the designs. He’s designed a couple pieces with us and I can’t wait to see what he does next. I’m really looking forward to showing these leggings off at the TV on the Radio concert at Red Rocks this summer.

IMG_0709What is your advice to people looking to do what you do or make what you make?

Be you and do. People have really incredible ideas and talents, but too often let self-doubt keep them from actually taking the steps to complete a project. I think it’s so important to put yourself out there and really give an interest or a passion the chance to succeed. If it doesn’t work, so what? You tried, and I think that’s more important.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

Without a doubt my favorite part is the influence of other makers. It’s really incredible what folks are doing these days, and observing their passions is truly inspirational. Not only is it just really stinkin’ cool technology and innovation, but the problem solving is astounding. I’m really excited for the future of this movement. I think society is embracing creative problem solving, and I think the Maker movement is leading the way. I really can’t wait to see this mentality at work when applied to societal and environmental issues. I’m also really eager to see this more in our school systems because it’s amazing to see what kids can do if you put them in an environment that leads them in this kind of problem solving.

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

I think every type of “making” is only going to increase in traction. There is a renewed appreciation for independent organizations and projects, as well as creative problem solving. Shopping from companies like The Cotery allows customers to be part of the movement community, and that requires a transparency from organizations that really energizes both consumers and producers. I think it increases responsibility for businesses, which will lead to overall improved society.

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

Moonshine – I was raised in Appalachia. But that’s illegal, so let’s say quilts. 300 years ago, women in communities used to get together and quilt when someone got engaged or had a baby. I love the idea of the thought, community, and talent that went into quilts like this. I’d love to learn how to make them, and figure out how technology can be part of the quilt-come-back.

Take a Kitables survey!

Have you ever seen an awesome project you wanted to do and then looked at the parts list and just thought “NOPE!”

Our friends at one of our favorite local start-ups, Kitables are trying to solve that problem by providing kits for projects you love right to your door. No more wasting time and money sourcing parts, thank goodness, that stuff takes for-ev-er and can be cray expensive.

But they need our help…

They are trying to make their products better for makers and would greatly appreciate it if you took a minute of your time to fill out this quick 9 question survey!

If you do you will be entered to win a Kitables Kit! (we’ve taken the survey 43 times already… just kidding, they won’t let us.)

Also if you would like to reach out to them directly with questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi email them at info@kitables.co

Maker Interview – Alison Hughes

8667564636_a6e9a1e73d_mMy name is Alison Hughes and I’m a lifelong maker. I love music, art, craft, bikes, and the outdoors, especially when I can bring a nerdy angle to it. Engineering has always been a creative pursuit for me. I used to write audio hardware drivers at Apple but now I’m pretty excited about smaller scale embedded systems, sensors, and automation projects.

What do you make?

Lots of things! I am currently focused on enhancing the backyard farming experience with embedded technology but I also enjoy designing and sewing my own clothes, knitting, and making mixes with my cherished vinyl collection. I’ve built my own electronic instruments and assembled LED adorned housewares like my motion activated LED coffee table. Craft and electronics go together so naturally!

How did you get started making and why?

Since I was itty bitty, making has endlessly entertained and delighted me, especially growing up as an only child without a lot of playmates. My favorite playthings in elementary school were paper, scissors, pencils, yarn, and tape. I made everything I could dream up from these simple materials: animal ears and tail (my best friend was a dog so I wanted to fit in with the canine crowd), fashion eye glasses, lots of drawings, costumes, and games. I learned to program BASIC on an Apple IIe in 3rd grade. As I grew older, I picked up oil painting, sewing, jewelry making, DJing, and all sorts of crafts.

My father is an engineer/DIYer and had a huge influence on me growing up. He encouraged me to enter the science fair in junior high which led to my first hardware make: “Cooling Computers: Heat Pipes vs. Fans”. My dad specialized in thermodynamics so I obviously did not come up with that crazy idea on my own, ha!

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

“Why don’t you just buy it?”

What is your advice to women and girls looking to do what you do or make what you make?

The most importaALISON HUGHES_bringyoujoynt thing is to figure out what you care about in the world – it could be music, food, the environment, running, ping pong, dog clothes, particle physics – whatever gets you very excited – and then think of something you’d like to create or improve that relates to that interest. It has got to be something that you care about or else it won’t be any fun. Things that bring you joy will inspire the best ideas and projects that you will be motivated to complete despite tough challenges along the way.

And don’t be afraid to combine your interests even if nobody else thinks it makes sense. Putting novel things together is where the gold is, trust me. And finally, always bring empathy and your unique perspective to your designs. As women, you have so much to offer in this regard.

 

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

I love the way it empowers everyday people to make their world the way they want it to be. It encourages people to be creative, teach themselves new things in a non-traditional manner, and to put their ideas out there even when it feels scary. Most importantly, the maker movement brings people together to exchange ideas and relate to one another in an empathetic way.

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

I would like to turn making into my own business. I’ve made things for fun, I’ve made things for others as my job as a software engineer – now I’m ready to take on making as an entrepreneur. I care a lot about education and connectedness to the natural world so I see myself working to use technology to enhance those domains.

What do you wish you cALSION HUGHES_THEWAYTHEYWANTITTOBEould make but dont know how to (yet)?

I suck at analog electronics. I can hack it a bit, make some small mods but honestly it is a blurry, hand-wavy mess to me most of the time. Someday I would love to be able to design my own circuits from scratch!

 

Daily Camera Video of Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

How could we possibly express our gratitude to everyone who helped make this weekend’s Boulder Mini Maker Faire possible? The volunteers were astounding! And so were the makers, adult adventurers of the mind, parents and kids. Want to see what it was all about (or recap a FUN weekend?)? Check out this video from the Boulder Daily Camera!

Study: Does Vacationing Really Make You Happier?

Here we are in the week after the holidays. With Christmas on a Wednesday and New Years on a Thursday, for many of us it was a longer than usual break. Did you stay home or did you travel? For how long? And was it relaxing or stressful? Now as we get back to work and the kids get back to school, are you rested, recharged and reinvigorated as you roll into the winter? Or has your holiday high evaporated into sluggishness as you drag your thoroughly vacationed self back to the grind? A study in the journal Applied Research in the Quality of Life asks a similar question: does vacationing make you happy?

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