OpenMake Wood
Saturday, April 16, 2011

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 wood. Four Featured Makers were interviewed in the McBean Theater, talking about their work and process, and taking questions from the audience.

  • Scott Weaver talked about his passion for working with toothpicks, and what drove him to spend 35 years on a single massive project.
  • Bernie Lubell has installed a wooden collaborative machine in the Tinkering Studio, that will allow visitors to slowly whittle a dowel down to a single toothpick, which will then be added to Scott's piece.
  • Jess Hobbs talked about the massive wooden structures that she installs on the playa at Burning Man.
  • And finally, Saul Griffith brought these four months of Materiality to an end, by talking about his elephants that he built in each of our four highlighted materials: plastic, cardboard, metal, and wood.

In the Tinkering Studio, come marvel at the enormous toothpick sculpture depicting San Francisco, and let Scott take you on one of his "guided tours"; slowly make a dowel by pedaling on a wooden bicycle or running on a treadmill; or create your own wonderful marble machine.

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.

  • Make your own personalized laser-cut lantern
  • Make airborne wooden contraptions to fly in our wind tubes
  • Learn some basic woodworking skills, and build your own wooden artifact
  • Tinkerer in Residence Gever Tulley taught people how to properly drive a nail, which is one of the 50 dangerous things you should let your children do
  • Make bathtub boats
  • Build with wooden contraption sets
  • Learn how to make fire caveman-style (i.e. without using matches)
  • Renga Arts showcased their music boxes

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 wood.

Wood is one of the most ubiquitous materials at the Exploratorium, making up the structure of most exhibits, prototypes, and experiments found here. People have used wood for millennia for many purposes, primarily as a fuel or as a construction material for making houses, tools, weapons, furniture, packaging, artworks, and paper. We celebrated this material and its many uses and inspirations all month long!

Scott Weaver has spent the last 35 years painstakingly constructing a replica of the city of San Francisco made of toothpicks! Not only that, but it is also a marble run, allowing ping-pong balls to take various tours through the city. His artwork will be on display in the Tinkering Studio until June 19th. See it in action!

Bernie Lubell is renowned for his interactive wood machines, and he has installed one in the Tinkering Studio, which lets the public slowly whittle a dowel into a toothpick by pedaling a stationary wooden bike, and running on a treadmill. At the end, the newly minted toothpick will be presented to Scott to add to his creation!

Of course, marble machines are back! Come use all sorts of wooden implements, dowels, tracks, clothespins, pegboard, to build the biggest, longest, most intricate marble run you can think of!