After Dark: The Art of Tinkering - the Digital Bling Bar


After Dart: The Art of Tinkering

Thursday night’s After Dark event was dedicated to the book we’ve written for all of you, called The Art of Tinkering. It was a great and fun event, with lots of guest artists, tinkerers, and of course tinkering activities featured in the book. We chose a few circuits-related activities to highlight for the evening, and in the Tinkering Studio Grace Kim led a Sewn Circuits activity, and Jie Qi helped visitors make paper circuits in the form of hats and fascinators. Both of those activities required a big commitment from the visitors in terms of time, and since we anticipated a busy night, we wanted to offer something that, while still a full tinkering experience, was quick and could serve a lot of people. Enter: The Digital Bling Bar!

The idea was to take an activity we did in the past—making jewelry with LED adornments—streamline it so facilitation could be kept minimal, and present it in a way that set the tone for the types of interactions we were hoping to see.

After Dart: The Art of Tinkering

Signage made a big difference. Thankfully, we have Iris Gottlieb in residence with us, and she agreed to design both the sign hanging above the station, and simple instructions on the tables themselves.

After Dark : The Art of Tinkering

There were three basic projects that you could choose from: Ring Bling, Hair Flair, and Neck Tech (we like to rhyme, quite obviously). You'd then get all the basic materials needed for the project of your choice in a martini glass right in front of you, and a brief introduction to the activity.

After Dark : The Art of Tinkering

There was a certain theatrical element to the setup, with this “pretend bar” conceit and the martini glasses, so I decided to amp that up by embodying a sort of “Blingtender” character, showcasing all the possible projects on my person…

After Dark : The Art of Tinkering

After Dark : The Art of Tinkering

One of the most interesting aspect of the Digital Bling Bar was that it actually worked like a bar, and I saw many of the same social interactions that you would expect at your local drinking establishment: people massed behind the bar, and while waiting their turn tried to catch the bartender’s eye to get a spot; strangers sat next to each other and struck up conversations that had nothing to do with the activity they were both doing, but with their personal lives; there was some flirting between visitors; some people had a brief interaction—finished their project quickly and moved on—while others lingered at the bar, chatting as much as building, and getting outlandish with their ideas. We even had a last few stragglers that stayed well past “last call” and kept tinkering furiously while the overhead lights were turned on and we had started sweeping…

After Dark : The Art of Tinkering

By my estimate, visitors ended up making just shy of 200 “blings” in the span of four hours! The whole evening was lots of fun, so stay tuned for more blog posts about out other activities.

I'd love to see the instructions for making these! I looked on the Digital Bling post, but there were no actual instructions there and I would love to do this with my students.

This is amazing. I am just getting into tinkering, right at the starting gate and can't wait to get my brand new Tinker-room/workshop up and running. I want to amaze and interest my grand kids into doing their own tinkering and discovering this tinker-bar idea has made me rethink how I might get their attention. Thanks, and I'll let you know how it goes.


Are there instructions available? I would love to do this with our new STEM program!

Sorry, we haven't made instructions for this activity yet. This blog post is the best source of information for how we set it up, and I recommend going to to find all the electronic parts (LEDs, coin cell batteries, etc.)

thanks for sharing

It would be such a gift if you could post instructions for this!!!!

Such a fun idea. Could you give me your sources for the foam rings and the barrettes/bowties? I can't find either of those on line Also if you just posted pictures of the directions you had that night ---it would help tremendously. Sincerely Nancy

Hi Nancy! Too hard to answer in the comments: send an email to and I can send you more information!

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