Category Archives: Makers 2013

Heard of the term “refashioning”?

One maker stood out with her environment theme this year. Agatha Lee runs a blog “Green Issues by Agy” and shares way that each of us can do to make this world more sustainable. I have been a follower since end last year and have always been amazed at her creativity and ideas she shared generously. I still recalled the first few ideas which impressed me quite a bit – crocheting decorative bowls out of old, unwanted jeans, DIY Halloween dress-up kits for herself and her son, and the DIY waterproof school bag cover made out of old umbrella fabric! All are fantastic ideas, aren’t they? :)

We met at the Handmade Movement Craft Fair earlier this year, and I quickly introduced myself and invited Agatha to join the Faire this year. It turns out that she was very interested as well! Since then, I noticed that Agatha had been conducting workshops at many places and events, and they were usually different and refreshing. I was looking forward to check out her workshops at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire this year. Check out my interview with Agatha below. It was my first face-to-face interview with a maker this year, and she has graciously invited me to her place.

How it started

Agatha shared that she mainly does refashioning, and it all started from the year 2005 when she was on her maternity leave and had more time at hand. She said that several  pieces of her clothes were still in good condition (good fabric and nice pattern), so even though they might have been out of fashion, she did not throw them away. When asked about her first piece of refashion, she promptly went to retrieve a pretty blue jacket for me. On the jacket are two pretty flower designs, and she shared with me that those were cut out from an old scarf! What I learnt from her later was that the idea came about because of a burnt hole in the jacket that she need to cover! I think it is a marvellous move, rather than to waste a good jacket. :)

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Agatha and her first refashioned item!

More projects

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Using old jeans to make covers for this chair!

Besides refashioning, there are also several upcycling projects that Agatha did.

Check out the photo of this chair with a jean cover (left) and a short video clip of her introduction of a refashion item that she was making when I visit.

To read more, you can always check out Agatha’s blog here and Facebook page here.

If you are interested to see the end result of the refashioned item in the clip, click here. :)

Inspiration source

It seems like more and more people are using Pinterest as a source of inspiration. Agatha shared that she sometimes browse Pinterest too, though her inspiration also comes from window-shopping. Indeed, I get a lot of inspiration when I window-shop too. There are many good ideas on the street!

Technical challenges

During our interview, I shared with Agatha how I had not embarked on any sewing projects because while I have a sewing machine, I do not have a permanent place for it. Hence, I envied those who have a permanent place for it. Contrary to what I thought, Agatha advised me that sewing with a machine might not really make it easier. She highlighted that there are also issues such as maintenance (the machine might spoil if it is not oiled regularly), or if the parts are not cleaned properly. In fact, she found hand sewing more straightforward at times!

If you are a fabric maker, what is your view and experience on this?

The blog and Facebook Page

Besides the refashioning and upcycling projects, I was also curious about the blog and asked Agatha on how she started that. It turns out that the blog was originally started by another friend and it was focused on environmental issues. She had taken over from the friend after that and began to share more on her refashioned items. I guess the blog took off because not many people in Singapore bother to refashion their clothes, and the blog gave people good ideas on simple ways to inject new life into their old clothes. This would appeal to ladies definitely. Now, it makes me wonder whether there are guys doing it. *wonder*

Agatha also mentioned that she was encouraged by her friend to start a Facebook page less than a year ago when she started to run her first workshop, and since then she has 300 plus following. However, she was curious how interested people are in refashioning, especially when the responses to workshops are inconsistent. But Agatha is persevering in conducting her upcycling and refashioning workshop. In fact, during this upcoming Singapore Mini Maker Faire, Agatha has decided that on top of two workshops that she will run, she will also do a presentation on refashioning! For more information on Agatha’s workshops and presentation, check out the information on our schedule pages on the pre-registration procedures!

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Visitors at the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire would probably remember a booth with a digital ‘Like’ counter tied to poles as well as the adjacent booth with electronic kits for kids.

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Wai Him (left) and Adrian (right)

The digital counter was controlled by an Arduino, an open-source platform that allows people to build their own gadgets while the electronic kits are for younger children to start tinkering with electronics as they are less intimidating. The booths belong to friends Adrian and Wai Him, both makers and hobbyists.

Many visitors to their booths discovered that the electronic kits and Arduino are fantastic platforms for their children to pick-up electronics in an interesting way through experiential learning. Adrian and Wai Him shared with me something once said by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, that a person may forget if he was simply being told. Hence, this explains the title of this blogpost. Adrian and Wai Him are guided by the belief that a person may remember if being taught (such as using additional visual aids like powerpoint), but the real learning occurs when the person is involved through experimentation and play.

Adrian and Wai Him have joined forces this year in returning to the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. On top of their maker booth, they will have a presentation to share on how families can have fun, learn together and build interactive projects for the home making use of the Arduino platform. Let’s hear from them more as returning makers. :)

What makes you return to the Mini Maker Faire?

A & WH : This event is a good opportunity for the general public to have a better understanding of the Maker Culture. By soaking in the atmosphere of Makers, Dreamers, Creators and Builders at the Maker Faire, people would be inspired to start making their own creations and hopefully in turn enrich their lives.

What was your experience like during the last Maker Faire? Did you notice any trend among the people interested in your booth and your gadgets? Were they people who are already into electronics or novices? What did it feel like sharing your experience with electronic gadgets?

A & WH : Some visitors had never heard about the ‘Arduino’ & the maker movement. After sharing, they seems motivated enough to go explore further. Some had heard a little about ‘Arduino’ but don’t know how to take the first step. We’re heartened to have interacted with many parents at our booths who wished their child can learn electronics and have fun along the way.

(Personally, I think it is encouraging when you get visitors who have no prior knowledge of your stuffs. It is a possible sign that people are keen to find out more about something beyond their comfort zone, and that is a good thing! At the point of the interview, Adrian and Wai Him were still contemplating how to better help those interested to find out more about Arduino. It is great to learn of their subsequent decision to share more via a presentation. )

Did you think the Maker Faire was useful to the maker movement here? Did you see any changes since then?

A & WH : Yes to both. There has been impact especially to those who are already aware and searching around for the community of makers locally. One of your Science Centre colleague William Hooi has been very active in the maker community and generating interest in the maker scene. More should be done to raise awareness in the maker movement. This is a good platform for science centre to reach-out to the public and schools and make learning science and technology fun by leveraging on the diversity of ideas of the maker community.

(Kudos to William and his relentless efforts!)

What are you intending to showcase this time?

A & WH : Like last year, our concept is still to bring across the message ‘Start your Maker journey one small step at a time.  In time to come, you’ll look back and find you’ve taken a giant leap’. We will extend our showcase based on last year. So we’ll still show the ‘Like’ counter. To show what it was last year and how it has evolved this year. We’re also planning an interactive light or sound display that is controlled by participants at the booth (eg using distance sensors).

In addition to introducing and selling electronics/hobbyist parts and kits, we’re planning to conduct experiential learning workshops in electronics, Arduino and Arduino robotics.

What are your expectations from the second Mini Maker Faire held in Singapore, and what would you like to achieve out of it?

A & WH : We hope that the second Mini Maker Faire brings more people together (compared to last year) and raise more people’s awareness on the maker movement.

Hope that Science Centre can do more on publicity so that the event can be made known to people who are NOT aware of the maker movement. Is there a better way (or more fund) to reach out to more schools such as with resources from MOE? How about asking last year’s participants (including makers, vendors, sponsors) to publicise on their website or during their events etc

(A & WH provided us very honest feedback about his expectations from the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. Indeed, we are also looking at extending our reach beyond those who are already fans of the maker movement, so that more can benefit from the goodness of this movement. The importance of the call for more publicity is very real, and we will not be able to do it alone. Throughout the past year, since the last Faire, it is heartening that our following (at seen from our Facebook page) had nearly doubled, and more importantly, we have seen a growth in the variety of the makers that have got to know about the Faire. *beam* Hence, as suggested by A & WH, we hope to garner all your support to help us spread the words as much as possible, by linking to our blog, liking our Facebook page, following our Twitter account and sharing our posts. We knew that many of you have already done that. Our heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts! :D )

Would you have any advice or words of encouragement to give to newcomers at this year’s Maker Faire? How about advice to people who are new to electronic gadgets?

A & WH : For newcomers, do not worry that what you have to share is simple or easy. The simplicity could be the motivating factor for some people to start their Maker journey.

For people new to electronic gadgets, take a look at our website (3egadgets.com) and come over to our booth. Meanwhile, they can look up the internet to see gadgets that people can make themselves and go to the library to borrow some good books on basic electronics and Arduino.

Wai Him also penned his own entry for our blog last year. If you are interested, simply click on this link. To see Adrian’s entry in our blog, simply click on this link.

Yarns, bags and dolls – A different take on making

There were many maker booths at the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire last year but Ling Ling’s booth stood out from the rest because her projects were of a different nature from the majority of the other showcases. Instead of electronics and robotics stuffs, Ling Ling was showcasing her beautifully crocheted bags and gothic dolls.

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I was excited to know that Ling Ling is returning because I am an innate craft lover and I am drawn to anything crafty. Hence, I was very curious what she will be showing this time round. It turned out that Ling Ling intended to run a workshop on top of showcasing her work at a booth! Read on to find out the motivation behind her return to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire.

Why the return

I sensed a lot of enthusiasm in Ling Ling when she replied my question on what made her return as a maker (even when it was over email). It seemed like a redundant question that I need not have asked. Ling Ling shared that she is a big fan of the MAKE Magazine and the Maker Faire so she is really keen to be involved. She was also kind to mention that the organisers have been very supportive, helpful and genuinely passionate about crafts and making things. *big smile*

Experience in the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire

When asked about her experience last year, Ling Ling mentioned the good turnout despite being away from the city area. She noticed that people were very interested in the activity workshops, especially the kids. Hence, this year, she was inspired to run her own workshop! *yippee*

However, Ling Ling also observed that the MAKE Magazine’s main audience in Singapore seems to be the engineering and science community – circuits and programming kits, rather than the textile crafts. This was lacking in the maker representation in the inaugural Faire, hence she hopes to see more crafters join in this year, and a bigger section for textile and fibre arts. Indeed, this was something that the organising team realised as well, and are making efforts to improve. :)

One takeway from last year’s Faire for Ling Ling was the network with other fellow makers, who continued to connect online, at Maker Meetups and similar events. So, if you have been a lone maker who would like to know more like-minded people, why not drop by this year’s Singapore Mini Maker Faire?

Advice to newcomers

Lastly, here is a word of advice from Ling Ling to all newcomers at this year’s Singapore Mini Maker Faire.

Join us if you’re passionate about crafts and sharing your passion… And just enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie! It’s a positive spirit and something we really need here in Singapore.”

Ling Ling’s passion for crafts and the Maker Faire drives us as well, and we hope to bring in more makers from different background and expertise so that there can be more sharing and learning through exchanges between makers.

If you are interested in the previous blog we had posted about Ling Ling, you can read about it here. Her works can also be found here.

Update: Ling Ling will be conducting an “Intro to Crochet for Beginners” on 28 Jul, 12.45pm – 1.30pm, at SCAPE Level 4 (Colony Room).

Fee: $8/participant (Includes yarn and one crochet hook)
No pre-registration required, slots on a first-come-first-served basis.  Please make payment at the SMMF Counter at the Colony to confirm your slot.

Words of advice from last year’s workshop facilitator, Ken

As a lead-up to this year’s Singapore Mini Maker Faire on 27 & 28 July, we went round consolidating advice from some of the repeat makers which they felt are useful for new makers or makers wannabe.

Ken conducted a workshop at the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire held at the Science Centre Singapore last year. Like many others, I was awed by Ken’s project. He was working on animated paper-craft with wireless inductive power transmission. Click here to read more about his project showcased last year.

Reason for returning

This year, Ken is returning to the Mini Maker Faire to help his colleague instead. He shared that he really enjoyed the event last year, where the smiles on people’s faces after seeing his work encouraged him to come back again this year, even though he will not be taking a booth this time.

Ken shared that last year, he had 30 sign-ups for his workshop and many of them were children. He was motivated when the children left the workshop being happy with what they had learnt.

Words of advice for workshop facilitators

Having conducted one round of workshop, Ken have the following advice for new makers:-

1.       Don’t get panic if too many people come to your workshop, although you may not have enough for them, because that means you have done a great job, and people are really interested in your work.

 2. Keep being open-minded to any comment and question, no matter whether they are good or bad. Having an open mind is one essential personality of a maker :D

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We will post a separate blog entry later on the booth by Ken’s colleague at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire this year.

Watch this space for more updates on the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2013!

Just another 3D printer? No, it is slightly different this time.

Introducing next is another repeat maker from last year’s Singapore Mini Maker Faire – Wee Kiam Peng.

If you cannot recall who he was, he is the person behind Orangeknob and the portable self-replicating 3D printer “Portabee”.

The whole idea of having a portable 3D printer at a fairly reasonable price was so appealing then that I was actually considering to get one of them for myself. And maybe still contemplating. :P

Advice

When approached to give some words of advice to people new to the making culture, Kiam Peng amazed me with his super fast response. Every single answer was sharp and straight to the point.

Kiam Peng shared that he had signed up again as maker this year because of his passion for making. Interestingly, he described last year’s Mini Maker Faire as “crazy” but in a positive way. It was meeting a lot of like-minded folks that made it “crazy” for him. I guess he must have found himself being approached to find out more about his 3D printer most of the time.  He felt that the Singapore Mini Maker Faire does help encourage the maker movement and the interest in 3D printing here in Singapore. In fact, he highlighted that every little steps help. How true indeed!

As repeat makers, Kiam Peng expressed interest to see a greater variety of DIY items. I guess this would always be something that most makers like to see – “to inspire and be inspired”.

Hence, Kiam Peng urged all makers to be more forthcoming, to dare to show the world that you are creative and that you can make a difference.

New plans

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Sneak peak!

We were excited when we hear of the giant 3D printer that Orangeknob is going to showcase.

How big would it be? What kind of prototypes can it print? I believe many people at the upcoming Mini Maker Faire will be similarly curious about it.

Ideas and possibilities never fail to bring up the spirit in people. Does the sound of this giant printer perk you up a bit and ignite your interest?

To learn more about Orangeknob’s latest project, check them out at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2013, coming to you on 27 & 28 July at SCAPE.

If you are keen to read more about how Orangeknob was formed, read our blog entry last year here.

What does the kampung spirit of the Singapore Mini Maker Faire reminds you of?

If you had come for the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire last year, it is unlikely that you would miss the biggest curated area by the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2).

Artistically decorated with the “kampung” feel, the booths of the SL2 showcased many treasures to our first Singapore Mini Maker Faire, bringing awesome surprises for many of us. The cardboard fire engine transformer stole the limelight, transforming itself into a popular photo spot. There were lots of hands-on booths for visitors to try their hands on, eg. painting on an elephant figurine, weight-lifting using DIY weights, urban farming methods and of course, the ever popular flying water rocket. There were simply so much things you can see, touch and experience.

Since their success last year, SL2 had been busy with several of their own events. We are glad that they are still able to take part at the upcoming second Singapore Mini Maker Faire, and are excited to learn what they have in store for us, and what learning points they would like to share with new makers. Read on to find out what we found out through an interview with Veera and Ibnur, founders of the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2)!

Conceptualisation > Preparation > Execution

When asked about their experience curating their own space, Veera and Ibnur shared that the Singapore Mini Maker Faire was an opportunity for them to bring their existing maker community together and create a common shared experience. It started with bouncing of ideas almost 2 months before the Faire, settling on the “Kampung Innovation” theme which celebrates the inventiveness and resourcefulness of the Kampung, and weeks of intensive sessions of development and iteration of the prototypes to bring them to their final form.

Non-visitors would not know this, but we noticed that SL2 had a debrief session at the end of the day. When asked about it, we were told that those are reflection sessions, and they are part of their internal culture at the SL2, enabling their makers to think about how their day went, and to share their gratitude and thanks to each other for the support they had received from each other. Doesn’t your heart warm at this? Personally, I think such practices are great for any community. Reflections are useful because they aid in the process of personal growth and development. SL2 really treasures their makers. :)

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What have SL2 been doing?

For those who followed us since last year, you probably would have also followed SL2 and their activities during the past year. They shared that they had been inspired by the large turnout at the last Faire and the interest in their activities, and have started conducting “Woodworking and Innovation” classes for families, students and adults. They have also started developing their product lines with the cardboard furniture, Jigusuo rapid assembly furniture (exciting concept and interesting design!) and cardboard building blocks. Along the way, they also organised a bunch of makethons – their version of hackathons in which physical prototypes are a must!

If you are curious about SL2, find out more at their website here.

New plans

This year, SL2 shared that they hope to have a sharper focus on sustainability and demonstrate various ways in which we can all be more gentle with the Earth. They said that we can expect more earthworks, home urban farming systems, traditional crafts and quirky upcycled products. There might even be some interesting smart furniture and humanitarian devices on display!

Words of advice

Veera and Ibnur’s suggestion for newcomers at this year’s Mini Maker Faire would be for them to spend time on creating a positive and memorable experience for those visiting their booths.

Simple, but it is probably one of the most important things makers should take heed when planning for your booth at the upcoming Singapore Mini Maker Faire.

Are you ready? Stay tuned for more news coming your way and block your calendar for 27 & 28 Jul 2013!