Adorn yourself with a cardboard costume made with your own hands at this Tinkering Social Club event! Exciting, fantastical, and outrageous costumes will be right at your fingertips. We love cardboard as a prototyping and construction material because it allows you to work on a large scale with ease. Add paint, glitter, and eventually “sew” pieces together using hot glue for your final creation. You can make anything with cardboard!
In this two-hour drop-in event you will get an intensive introduction to cardboard costuming techniques with Jesse Roadkill. Jesse is a member of the (in)famous Cardboard Institute of Technology and has years of experience turning recycled cardboard into large-scale immersive environments, sculptures, puppets, and, or course, lots of costumes. She will teach you how to construct a simple base, from which sculptural applications can be imagined, and guide you through this process, showing you easy patterns and dispensing cardboard-related wisdom.
You can start from scratch and work entirely in cardboard, or modify a piece of clothing that you bring in! Trucker hats, blazers, rain boots all work well as support structures for costumes. Do you not already have a pair of sultan shoes? We can work something out.This will be a fast-paced craft session limited only by your imagination and the amounts of cardboard we are able to provide. And we plan to bring a lot of cardboard.
TSC is happening Thursday, April 17, 7–9 pm.
Adult-only evening hours are for 18+ only from 6-10pm on Thursday evenings; admission is $15 ($10 for members). Admission to Tinkering Social Club is at no additional cost.
On the second day of our workshop in Singapore we started with a toy dissection activity paired with the project zero thinking routine that we tried out in Milan and with our field trip explainers here at the museum. In this version of the activity, we set up the environment with a big sheet of paper at each station and ask each group to use a black pen to record all the parts of the toy that they can see, feel and hear. After that, they write or draw the "purposes" for these parts with the same color marker.
We hoped that this would result in careful noticing of the ways the toys moved and encourage communication between the groups as they tried to speculate about what's going on under the skin of the singing and dancing toys.
After about twenty minutes, we switched the pens and handed out the tools for dissection. Sharmin and June used a scalpel to carefully cut off the outer layer of their singing crow.
Because Ling Ling collected some of the toys at local stores, we were surprised by some of the mechanisms that people found. Alf and Edna had a hopping bunny that had really beautiful springs for the ears and a little voice box to make the squeaking sound.
Shah and Alwyn dissected a "talking tom" toy, a cat that had a bunch of capacitance sensors and could repeat things that people said around it. It was especially funny and a little unsettling as the sensors made "ouch" noises as they opened it up.
It was nice to see people sharing ideas with each other and talking about if their predictions were accurate or not. It feels like having the big paper as a record of the exploration helps to spark
In the second half of the day we experimented with light and shadows in the light play activity.
The crew from the science center collected all kids of cool grids and shapes for the starting point stations, but one of the coolest materials was actually the pineapple-equse free water bottles from our hotel rooms. When filled with colored water, they made amazing refractions on the walls.
They also followed our instructable to make the posable super bright LEDs in several different colors.
We used the same design of cardboard box stages from our last workshop in Milan, which continue to work wonderfully as a portable material for offsite workshops. Although we noticed that they can be a little small for two people working together, so we may consider a bigger version for the next time.
We ended up with a beautiful 3x3 grid of moving light vignettes and most everyone in the workshop pulled out their phones to capture the moment.
Here's a quick video of the entire light play wall in action. We ended the day with a discussion of the content, practices, and attitudes that participants felt this activity could help foster. We also had a quick presentation and discussion about facilitation and were ready for the final day of the tinkering workshop.
Last week, Mike, Karen, Lianna and I traveled to Science Center Singapore for an initial workshop on the "Art of Tinkering" with some of their education and design staff. They are embarking on a longer project to develop a tinkering workshop on the floor of their museum, so it was exciting for us to help them get started on the experimental space.
It was also a special workshop because the original PIE team of Mike, Karen, Liz, Walter and Nicole led a workshop in the museum over ten years ago. A few of the participants this time remembered the sound automata and cricket based explorations that the group worked on back in 2004.
Another exciting development for this workshop was that in the weeks before our arrival, our amazing host Ling Ling and the team, collected and constructed pegboards for marble machines, light play boxes, and the vast collection of materials needed for the three day workshop. This not only lightened our luggage, but also set up the group in Singapore to immediately start sharing some of these activities with staff and visitors.
We started the workshop by diving into the marble machines activity. The boards made by them were a little wider than the ones we usually use which actually felt a little bit nicer for two adults to share the space.
One thing that I'd never seen before was the idea of incorporating materials into the bodies of the builders. Jax and Alfred prototyped this coiled spring in a unique way before affixing it to their boards.
As usual, marble machines is a great introduction to tinkering and get participants to start thinking about not only the phenomenon, but especially the process of working together and sharing ideas around the room.
For the second half of the first day we experimenting with scribbling machines. This provides a nice counter point to the marble machines activity as people work individually on a more personalized project.
We also used scribbling machines as a jumping off point to talk about facilitation, focusing on the moments when we jumped in to help troubleshoot a problem or offer a challenge that might complexify people's thinking around the motion.
As well, scribbling machines gives us the change to talk about the emotional elements of the tinkering activities, with each person experiencing both the frustration of things not working as expected and the joy of getting something to move in an interesting way.
It was a fun first day of the workshop and we were excited about the enthusiasm that the group brought to the activities as learners and encouraged by our group discussions where we starting thinking together as a group about how these experiences might impact our practice as educators and designers.
Last week, several of us on the Tinkering Studio team had the privilege of traveling to Singapore for a workshop with the staff of the science center there. We'll be posting a full recap of the activities and discussions soon, but as a preview, I wanted to share a really cool discovery from the trip.
On the first day that we arrived in Singapore, Ling Ling (our wonderful host) and I visited the beautiful and chaotic shops of Chinatown to find some fun materials to incorporate into the workshop activities. There were so many vendors selling all sorts of fun souvenirs and we got interested in the all of the Japanese "beckoning cat" figurines, also called maneki-neko. These battery powered toys seemed like they might be something cool to add to the chain reaction to knock a ball or pull a string and we wondered if we could add more batteries to make the motion faster or more powerful. We ended up buying two, one big one for the reaction and another small one that seemed easy to dissect so we could figure out what was happening on the inside.
I opened up the small one and found a really elegant mechanism inside. It turned out that the waving motion is produced by an AA battery, a coil of wire and a magnet, with a circuit board that I think either switches the direction or pulses the current. We all were amazed at such a simple device that so clearly showed a motion caused by the electromagnetic force.
We were so intrigued that we decided to open up the other one to see the similarities or differences. This one proved a little bit harder to get into, but I grabbed a hacksaw from the tool area and tried to cut it cleanly in half.
This one worked the same way, but had an internal structure that supported the swinging arm, making it much easier to mount on a block of wood to create a new circuit board mechanism. This piece actually got incorporated into the chain reaction triggered by an aluminum foil switch. I can't want to get some more of these from our Chinatown here in SF and investigate their inner workings.
Last month's Tinkering Social Club was a wonderful and warm event that encouraged strangers and friends to express themselves and communicate slowly. It was the brainchild of Michael Swaine, a long-time friend of the Tinkering Studio, who always brings a particularly human touch and authentic connection to everything he does, whether it is mending clothes for strangers in the Tenderloin, or trying to get a bunch of friends to make their own tools.
Michael became interested in the venerable art of letterpress printing, which involves setting blocks of wood or lead onto a plate, coating them with ink, and using pressure to press the ink onto a sheet of paper. Although the process has been industrialized (and now supplanted by more modern methods) there is a wonderfully low-tech quality to it that immediately appealed to us in the Tinkering Studio. But Michael of course added his unique flavor to it, by conceiving of the process as a fundamentally social one: he build wooden platforms meant for the participants to stand on in groups of 10-15 people in order to provide the weight that would press the paper down into the type.
This created a new dynamic to the process, where in order to print your carefully constructed poster you had to ask complete strangers’ help to stand with you in a close, intimate embrace on top of a tiny platform.
It got really cozy but strangely not awkward, in fact it was kind of sweet, with the creator of the poster in the middle giving a brief description of their poster while we waited for the weight to push the ink into the paper.
He also developed a circular setting plate that allows for a less “fussy” placement of the wooden type, which can be held in place by a simple strap pulled tight against two sets of wooden dowels set into the platform.
Yet we still occasionally needed spacers to fill in the gaps between letters due to the curvature of the circle. For that, we cut out on the laser cutter lots of small wedges of different angles, that would be carefully inserted between type blocks to keep things from sliding around under pressure.
Our superlative Tinkering Studio intern Mario came up with the brilliant idea of providing a large mirror to check your work before printing. I know for a fact that it helped a lot of people catch small mistakes that would have ruined a print; it is easy to confuse “p”s and “q”s when you’re working reversed!
Also, using circular plates forced us to keep the length of the text to a minimum, and so the idea of framing the whole evening in the form of “slow texts” came about. With it, we decided to create a small set of woodtype emoji characters to mix them into more traditional typefaces, just like you would on a digital text. This was done by painstakingly replicating selected emoji characters as vector art, so that they could be cut out on the laser cutter and mounted on blocks of wood.
Smiling poos, pigs, hearts, winky faces, palm trees, and more were used to express and carefully create messages that ranged from silly, to ironic (my favorite one, which sadly was not documented, read “#never #tweet”), sweet, and even a little bit heartbreaking.
You can see more photos from the event here.
Next TSC is happening Thursday, April 9, 7–9 pm.
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