Making at the Curtin Creative Festival

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We were pretty excited when Curtin Makers was asked to participate in the Curtin Creative Festival, which was held from 20-22 October.  Facilitated by Park’d @ Curtin and Future Common the Festival had a range of activities running over three days, from book binding, puzzle building, spaceship construction, live art, a kokedama workshop, music and dance, as well as the Library Makerspace.

Wanting to provide some interesting maker activities that were easy to demonstrate and not too complicated or involved, we seized the opportunity to spend the prize money that Curtin Library won for the WA Library Award for Excellence by buying some tools and equipment for the Library makerspace.  Our shopping list included:

After a flurry of research, decision-making and online purchasing we waited with great anticipation for #allthethings to arrive.

During the Festival the weather was warm and sunny, and it was great to be outside in the fresh air amongst the beautiful surroundings and gardens of Atkinson Forum.  With tables, chairs and beanbags under large shade umbrellas and leafy yarn-bombed trees, we were well set up for a fabulous time.  The relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the Festival was reflected in our own space, as we played with our new equipment, shared it with others and engaged with some of the other activities going on in the Festival.

It was very gratifying to have so many Curtin Library staff members volunteer to help out at our stall, particularly given that most of the activities and technologies we used were new to us and we had little time to become familiar with them.  It was literally a case of learning on the job, but we experimented together and taught each other what we learned. We were then able to share our own knowledge, experience and enthusiasm with our visitors – students, academics and general staff – that dropped by the Makerspace stall over the three days.

The badge making activity was by far our most popular activity.  We had pre-printed badge templates for people to choose a design for their badge, or they could design and draw their own.  The badge-making table turned into something of a social hub at times, with some people coming back the next day to make more!

Our other activities also attracted the interest of passers-by who were curious at the sight of people playing music with carrots (the Makey Makey) or robotic contraptions drawing intricate designs on a ping pong ball or painting a picture (the Eggbot and Watercolor bot).  These demonstrations led to people having a go themselves and doing some experimenting.

The activities also led to many conversations, and an opportunity to introduce people to the concept of the Makerspace and tell people about what we were doing, and what we planned to do in the future. It was a great opportunity to find out what kinds of making people were interested in and to gauge responses to the idea of the Makerspace.  These conversations confirmed for us something we already knew – that people love to create and are keen to get together with others with similar interests to share the experience of making.

Moving the Makerspace out of the Library and on to the campus was a great way to connect with people, and the ability to be mobile and “pop-up” around the place is something we will be doing more of in the future.

While the “pop up” Makerspace concept works well to demonstrate making activities, provide inspiration and ideas, and spark conversations, it also provides the opportunity for people to engage in more sustained activities or projects. To this end, next year we’d like to facilitate interest groups around particular activities, or encourage others from the Curtin community to do so, and develop workshop programs to allow the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience.

Curtin Creative Festival was a great opportunity for us to make another leap into the unknown, without knowing quite what would happen, with a feeling that invariably it would be something wonderful.

As indeed it was.