OpenMake Metal/Wire
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The entrance to the Tinkering Studio was embellished by this amazing piece from Tim Hunkin

A collaboration between the Exploratorium, MAKE Magazine, and Pixar Animation Studios, Open MAKE is a monthly program highlighting the tools, techniques, and ingenuity of local Makers. Visitors are invited to participate in tinkering and making activities inside the Tinkering Studio, where Makers from around the Bay Area share their work. In addition, Dale Dougherty, founder and editor of MAKE Magazine, interviews Featured Makers in the McBean Theater.

This month's theme was metal and wire. Our Featured Makers were interviewed in the McBean Theater between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., talking about their work and process, and taking questions from the audience.

  • Tim Hunkin has set up shop inside the Tinkering Studio, and shared his humble beginnings.
  • David Cole brought his amazing chain-making machine
  • Jay Broemmel talked about mutant bicycles
  • Sam DeRose and Alex Jacobson from the Young Makers program talked about learning how to build a fire-breathing dragon!

Makers from all over the Bay Area, as well as Tinkering Studio staff, shared activities with the public between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

  • Tinker with circuits, motors, electromagnetism, and art making with two of our activities: Circuit Boards and Scribbling Machines
  • Michael Shiloh and Judy Castro hosted another workshop on Electromechanical Contraption Building
  • Run around in a bicycle-powered Ferris Wheel and a Carousel thanks to the brilliant folks at Cyclecide
  • We played with wire twisting and soldering to make figurines in the spirit of Alexander Calder's Circus
  • Experience Todd Williams's wonderful contraptions called Land Sharks
  • Doug Conner brought and showcased his solar-powered stirling engines
  • The phenomenal scraper bikes team brought some of their creations and rode in and out of the museum.
  • Our own Eric Muller lied on a bed of nails and had a cement block smashed on his chest

And much more: real-life galimotos, make-your-own bent metal cookie cutters, a giant Erector City, Applied Kinetic Arts brought PoBot, and we made "human detectors"!

Each Open MAKE event constitutes the culmination of a whole month dedicated to exploring a different theme, centering activities, exhibits, and artists around a new material. This month, we played with metal and wire.

What exactly is metal, you ask? It is defined as a chemical element that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat; from electrical circuits, to lightbulb filaments, to armature inside of reinforced concrete, metal is literally all around us.

These are some of the ways in which we involved visitors this month:

We had the pleasure of hosting Tim Hunkin as a Tinkerer in Residence! Tim literally set up shop inside of the Tinkering Studio, and worked and played on whatever caught his fancy, all within easy access of the public. He went scavenging for metal scraps, and made a beautiful metal entrance gate to the Tinkering Studio.

Having fallen in love with Alexander Calder's delightful Circus performers made of wire and wood, we experimented with making various playful "action figures" by twisting wire.

Taking advantage of metal's ability to conduct electricity, we tinkered with one of our favorites activities: Circuit Boards! Visitors played with batteries, lights, buzzers, motors, resistors, potentiometers, switches, and more!

We also played with Scribbling Machines: motorized contraptions that move in unusual ways and leave a mark to trace their path. A Scribbling machine is made from simple materials and demonstrates the erratic motion created by an offset motor.

And more! We experimented, as always, with a number of ways to work and play with metal: soldering, spot welding, embossing soda cans, making motors, taking apart toys, making toys, etcetera.


Electromechanical Contraption Building with Michael Shiloh and Judy Castro

Sat, Mar 12 — 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sat, Mar 19 — 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Join Tinkerers-in-Residence Michael Shiloh and Judy Castro in the Tinkering Studio to explore one of the most common uses of metal: conducting electricity.
You will construct a contraption that creates unique light and motion, using the electrical and mechanical power and building materials we provide. Your contraption becomes part of a larger collaborative machine. Click here for more photos from the last build.You are encouraged to bring additional materials: broken toys; scraps of wood, plastic, or metal; discarded appliances; recycled objects.