Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Making things

This week I've written a column, Creating memories with cardboard, recalling various creative projects including spaceships my sister and I used to build from cardboard boxes. We had fun adding knobs and levers and then taking imaginary trips from our base in that Danvers kitchen.

Making things from scratch – from freely available raw materials (found items, discards, recyclables) – is satisfying, especially if the resulting creation is useful, beautiful, or fun to play with. Sometimes the greatest joy is the making process, regardless of outcome. Creative concentration and hands-on crafting eclipses any other thoughts or worries we might have had on our minds.

You may have heard about "Makerspaces" or the "Maker revolution."  Some years ago my husband Ken subscribed to a little magazine called MAKE, devoted to do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. I enjoyed browsing through the issues and learning about fun and crazy projects that people could do at home, or in a garage, or in community "makerspaces" equipped with fancier tools. I learned about tool-lending libraries and other ways that experienced makers help beginners.

On September 21 Ken and I attended the “World Maker Faire” hosted at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY.  Called the "Greatest Show and Tell on Earth," this annual family-friendly festival invites the public to come make and play. I saw hundreds of examples of handmade toys and tools, mostly made from recycled materials. Young children and whole families were actively engaged in making things. Wooden blocks became cars that raced down a ramp. Cardboard tubes were decorated and taped at the top end to make paper rockets that were then propelled high in the sky by a blast of compressed air. Pots and pans hanging from trees became gongs and drums. Adults – including myself and my husband – became childlike again as we explored and played. Smiles and laughter filled the day.

Meanwhile my daughter in California is training to be a coach in Odyssey of the Mind, a movement which teaches creative problem solving to students. She also informed me that this Saturday October 11 is designated as a "Global Day of Play," culminating a month-long Cardboard Challenge, inviting teams of children to create games and structures from cardboard. The public is invited to come play on October 11.  For more information, see http://cainesarcade.com/dayofplay/

For inspiration, watch this short video of an impressive arcade all built from cardboard by a 9-yr-old:

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