Tinkering Together

Tinkering Together

Tinkering.   One definition of tinkering is an “attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.”
That part about “often to no useful effect” makes me laugh.
I believe exactly the opposite.
It’s during the quiet tinkering moments that my hands get to talk to my head.  And sometimes, they have some pretty good things to say.
It’s even more special when my boys tinker alongside me.  It’s not me teaching them.  We work side by side.  Each on our own project.  But we’re together.  Sharing techniques.  Sharing suggestions.  Sharing inspiration.
 Corny truth?  I love watching my boys think, make and create.  If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is.

In the end, maybe one could say that the product itself is of “no useful effect.”

But let me tell you, the moments spent tinkering were invaluable.

This days tinkering and pics at New York Hall of Science.

Fun at the Maker Faire

Fun at the Maker Faire

It was super crowded, a little chaotic and yet, so cool… what a fun time we had visiting our first NYC Maker Faire.

My friend and I took our boys for this field trip first thing Saturday morning.  Had a little snafu with the commute out (no 7 trains from Manhattan to Queens), but luckily, we were delayed only for a little bit.  After that, it was all playing, learning and making.  My favorite kind of day.

I think it’s safe to say our boys loved everything electronic.  They designed short computer animation clips, made light up LED pins and played with littleBits kits.  But the “toy” that had them both salivating were the many 3D printers on display.  All sorts of 3D printed tchotchkes, but my favorite was this black ukulele.  Can you believe you can just come up with the design… and print it?!

There were also all sorts of over-the-top spectacles to goggle at and giggle over.  I was especially entertained by the singing fish and lobster car.  Take a look at this link – I think it’s hilarious.

Another fun activity was the making of dyes from natural elements.  One boy ground up a little wasp nest while the other crushed dead bugs to make black and purple dye.

There really was so much to see and do.  But the highlight of my day was meeting and talking with Jackie Huang of Woolbuddy.  I’d met him once years ago in San Francisco where he’d introduced me to needle felting – now one of my favorite crafts.  When I mentioned that particular demo, he remembered the event and even the project (I still have my penguins).  Wow, what a friendly, helpful & inspiring artist.  Here he is, posing with his 10 foot tall needle felted dinosaur.

Here’s the thing, I haven’t made super ambitious projects (yet)…  But when I am in the throes of creating something, I really get into it.  And when mumbling to myself or figuring out details or even texting my long-suffering-friend in the voice of my current creation, I sometimes feel a little bit alone in my crafting obsessions.  But to see what all these other people are tinkering with… it’s really awesome.  So much of their work is crazy intricate and time consuming.  I can’t even imagine the time that went into, say, that 10-foot dinosaur.  So maybe we’re all a little bit alone when we’re making things… but it’s truly fantastic that more and more, we are coming together and celebrating the very process of making.

Dabbling in Pottery

Dabbling in Pottery

Here are my rather wonky results from this summer’s attempts to learn pottery at Chambers Pottery.

Lovely studio.  Fascinating people.  If you’re looking for a pottery studio, I’d highly recommend this one.

I took the Beginner/Intermediate Wheel class where I was introduced to wedging, a little hand building, throwing, finishing and glazing. 

I have a whole new level of respect for folks who do pottery.  It’s slow, meticulous, hard work!  And, I must admit, requires more patience than I have… although I suppose I could say my distraction over building my new shop this summer could partially excuse my impatience and rough work.

Still, I really enjoyed dabbling a little in pottery.  The bowls and beads I completed this summer are a fun souvenir.  But if you really want to see some beautiful work, you should visit the studio and see what the real pottery artists are making!

The Happening

The Happening

Hey NYC families – something very cool coming up! 

 Saturday, May 4
1 pm to 4 pm
74 Warren Street (between Greenwich & West Broadway)
It’s a FUNdraiser
for Church Street School for Music and Art
Your kids will have a blast!
Life sized collaborative art projects include
Shadow puppets
Bubble murals
Painting with bare feet!
There will also be
Musical Performances
an Art Show
Face painting
& a Silent Auction
You can purchase tickets here or at the door.
My family has long loved everything Church Street School.
It’s a little school with
a big giant heart
impressively wildly talented and dedicated teachers & staff.
If you have the chance,
come experience
the Happening!

Earth Fest @ The Battery

Earth Fest @ The Battery

Attention neighbors –
The folks at The Battery Urban Farm have been preparing something really special for us.
It’s Earth Fest time!
Saturday, April 20th
11am to 3pm
FREE admission

I know my boys will want to visit the honeybees.
I plan to learn how to “inoculate a mushroom log” (sounds serious).
The clothing & kitchen swap is right up my alley too.
And these are just 3 of the many fun activities planned for this Saturday.
The Battery Urban Farm is located in the park at The Battery.
Enter at State & Pearl Street.
If you’re traveling by subway, take
the 4 or 5 to Bowling Green,
the R to Whitehall,
or the 1 to South Ferry.
A portion of the park is fenced off,
but don’t mind that…
(Amazing park renovations coming our way!)
Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day?
In the mood for music, games and some good farm fun?
Check out the Earth Fest this weekend.
It’s going to be a blast!
A Bit of Crafting Heaven

A Bit of Crafting Heaven

Brooklyn Craft Camp.  How to accurately describe how intensely fantastic the day was?  Would it be too dramatic to say I felt like I’d landed in crafting heaven?

When I showed my husband the day’s program – 4 class sessions, a keynote speaker at lunch, extra crafting stations and cocktails – he said it looked like an exhausting work conference.  Huh.  Maybe to him.  But to me, it was more enticing than a full day spoil-me trip to the spa.

Here are some of my day’s details & projects.

Session 1:  Crepe Paper Flowers with Kayte Terry.  I was so jittery and excited to be at craft camp.  I think I talked too much during this session because I managed to make only the one modest little flower shown above.  Actually, let’s be truthful.  I’m just challenged when it comes to paper flowers.  The ladies around me were churning out gorgeous fluffy flowers.  No matter.  It was still awesome to sit at that long table – cutting and shaping petals and gluing them on just so.

I also enjoyed chatting with Kayte.  Turns out she is a visual designer for my favorite store.  Then when I went home that night, I realized I have one of her books in my craft book collection.  So cool.

Session 2:  An embroidery lesson with Jessica Marquez.  Each person worked on one of four patterns.  We practiced back stitch, split stitch and stem stitch.  I think the last time I embroidered anything was some 30 years ago.  This session reminded me how much I enjoyed embroidery as a kid.  I’ll definitely be taking my embroidery hoop and needle back up again.

I really wanted to purchase a copy of Jessica’s book, Stitched Gifts.  Alas, I gave up recreational shopping for Lent.  I had to exercise a little willpower to refrain from buying… but that book will be mine soon enough.

Session 3:  Making a Terrarium with Gonul Yetim.  I have some experience with vegetable gardens, houseplants, succulents and even air plants.  But this was my first time to work with moss.  I found it interesting to handle the different types of moss.  Some were soft and velvety.  Others more coarse and shrubby.

Gonul showed us how to shape bits of different mosses together to create a miniature landscape.  So pretty.  And once a figure or two was added to the scene, the picture was complete. 

Session 4:  Crochet Headband with Cal Patch.  Do you know why I chose crochet for my last session?  It’s because I thought it’d be super relaxing to finish up the day crocheting at my leisure….

Joke was on me.  Making this nifty headband took more brainpower than I’d anticipated.  I ended up working furiously for those last 90 minutes of craft camp.  I sat hunched in place, one eye on the pattern and the other eye on my yarn and hook, muttering the counts under my breath & making as fast as I could.  Got it into my head that I had to finish this headband on the spot…

Luckily, Cal was sitting right there whenever I needed to double check her pattern instructions.  Amazingly convenient to have the person who dreamed the pattern sitting ready to answer your questions!  I would have loved to pick her brain a little more… sigh… but it was either talk or make. Another time, I hope… and, by the way, I did to complete that headband!

Besides the four class sessions, we also had the option to visit other craft stations.  I spent quite a bit of time hand stitching this cute little felt bird at the Quick Craft Bar with Sarah Goldschadt.  Got the chance to chit chat a bit with Sarah.  Loved her story of how her book, Craft-A-Day, came about.  Added her book to my “buy-after-Lent” list as well.

Then, lucky, lucky, lucky, my name was drawn as the winner of a bag of books – one of them this very book I wanted!

So sad when the day’s crafting extravaganza came to a close.  But to sweeten the blow, we were each handed a big ol’ bag on our way out.  Stuffed with all sorts of goodies – yarn, fabric samples, pins, patterns and even a beautiful pair of scissors.  Between all of my projects and swag, I ended up going home with quite a haul!

I had an amazing, wonderful, inspirational day at Brooklyn Craft Camp.

Thank you to Brett Bara, to all the teachers/experts and to everyone else who helped to make this day happen.  I loved discovering and meeting an entire community of crafters and makers.  I had a blast in all my sessions.  Everyone was warm, friendly and welcoming.  I learned so much.  Everything ran smoothly and your attention to details (down to the pink hearts on the gift bags) was impressive.  You did a beautiful job.

My only “complaint?”  The day sped by way too fast.

Fingers crossed that we can do it again… Please?