Thursday, May 17, 2007

Make this!

Today was Maker Day, a day of casual programming for the people who are part of Maker Faire this weekend. People presented and talked about various projects, starting with a guy who built a cart that travels on CA's decaying abandoned rails. I am sure lots of people (i sat next to scott beale from laughing squid for a little while) are blogging all the gory details of the day's presentations, so if you are interested please do search them out. it was a fascinating day. I was a little bummed about the male-dominated science makers and the female-dominated craft makers. I started thinking about ways to change that, and still miss my construction and engineering flavored times. i like doing the work in textiles, but was reminded today of the pragmatic reasons i chose that career path when i started working for myself. Textiles and apparel, as raw materials, are easier to get, sustainably, for a lower cost. The tooling and machinery is far simpler (I'm sure Kathleen Fasanella would argue with me there, but hopefully you can see the ways in which this is true). The business I launched was designed to give me a model that could get off the ground basically right away, inexpensive and thus low-risk to start and run. Textiles were a fun hobby and I don't mind the work, but I need to get dirty more often again.
A book I have on handicrafts cultures from around the world notes that in traditional cultures globally, crafts are typically done by the women until the technology to produce them reaches a certain level of complexity. Then the men take over.

Now why the hell would that be?


  1. I know exactly what you mean. I used to build computers. I have always wanted to build telescopes...sewing stuff is cheaper. I'm on the path of boycotting trends though. I haven't made anything since congress except web pages(and pillows for my deck made of vintage hand towels, but that doesn't count as business!). I love the culture of MAKE magazine, but I feel so far removed because now I'm surrounded by fabric and felt, and owl motifs. Some people think it's crazy that my absolute favorite part of making sewn items is the math/geometry involved in drafting patterns. I am also known to completely dismantle my sewing machine and tinker with it for hours longer than I actually sew.

    I am currently reconsidering the telescope thing :)

  2. there's got to be a way to work toward rectifying this discrepancy without fixing all of society.

    you can build telescopes out of cardboard tubes for super cheap - maybe has surplus lenses.

    There's not really a market for that, though, is there? A huge part of the reason why my startup is in apparel is because, well, everyone wears clothes.

    Wendy Tremaine from Swap o Rama Rama gave a really great talk on her project and why she hates clothes too. We dialogued a little about whether or not money makes the world go round, and i am left wondering at the way to merge our artistic and cultural sensibilities with getting paid and maintaining autonomy.

    that's a meaty question. maybe that's what this blog should really be about.

  3. Hey chica!
    No, I wouldn't disagree with you. Actually, forever and ever and ever and ever, textile/apparel industry has always had the lowest barriers to entry. Toyota (back when it was Toyoda) started in it too. In any country that's developing, clothing production is always the first industry to develop. You don't even need electricity. You can still buy new industrial sewing machines that run on foot power. The amish buy a lot of machines.

  4. ha! I just finished reading the part of your book about how all of the industry secrets are on the manufacturing end, I guess that's what made me say that.

    I found out at Maker Faire this weekend a way I can get access to laser etching processes for fabrics...

    bring on the SCIENCE!!