Go Forth and Make: A Magical Summer Camp

Hey, Readers. This post is sticky. It’s going to be at the top of my blog for a while, goading you into action.  If you want new material, you have to scroll down.

It’s been a while since I talked to you specifically, but I have a summertime task for you  Maybe you’ll take me up on it, maybe you won’t.  But it’s important, and I’m going to give you a chance to back out — but once you begin, forever shall it dominate your destiny.

If you’re not already, it’s time for you to become a Maker.  Not just a maker, but a Maker. Ian over at Via Gnostica recently did the Book challenge originally proposed by Gordon over at RuneSoup. Basically, the idea is this: propose ten books that, if the student does the exercises and makes the things and follows the rituals, they’ll become a particular kind of magician.  I have a slightly different agenda.  My goal is to make Makers. Designers. Creators. Inventors. People who know how to think about certain kinds of problems visually, and sculpturally.

So my goal is to get you to make something of yourself, for yourself, this summer. Something of glue and popsicle sticks, something of yarn and ribbon and hope, something of clay and paint and desperation, and isn’t there only one more week of summer left? No.  You have time.

Prior Attempts and a Reference Point

A while ago, I proposed a list of Seventeen Things that Teachers could do to work towards being a Maker, and a proponent of Maker curriculum in schools.  The post has been read 73 times since I made it.  I don’t think it’s been all that successful, really. Apparently Seventeen is too high a number.  Although a number of years before that, the librarians got together to train one another in how to be Digitally Literate, and they didn’t think Twenty-Three Things was too high a number.

But I’ve been working my way through the Druidic curriculum of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn.  In that there’s some meditation, and some geometrical understanding, and some ritual. But some of the curriculum revolves around making things.  Here’s what you’re supposed to make, in that training program:

  1. A tincture of vervain
  2. A white robe
  3. A green sash
  4. A blue sash
  5. A green circle out of foam board or wood
  6. A red cross out of foam board or wood
  7. Another tincture
  8. Another tincture
  9. Another tincture
  10. Another tincture
  11. An alchemical salt
  12. An alchemical salt
  13. An alchemical salt
  14. An alchemical salt
  15. An alchemical salt
  16. A wand with fiddly metal bits on it
  17. An egg-shaped container
  18. A linen bag for the wand
  19. A linen bag for the egg-shaped container
  20. A box for your druid’s sickle
  21. A set of four tokens of wood
  22. A bag for the four wooden tokens.
  23. Your relationship with your higher self

OK, so maybe twenty-three things is a lot.  That’s three years of development right there, and that’s a lot to expect of anyone, really, in just a few short weeks.  Especially when your relationship with your higher self is on the line.

I don’t intend to ask that much.  How about Ten Things?

We can do ten.  I can do ten, you can do ten.

Time For Summer Camp

Ok readers. If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to go off to summer camp.  Here are THE RULES, for people who care about such things.

  1. Make Ten Things.  Between now and the Equinox (September 21 more or less), Make Ten Things.  It doesn’t matter really what they are, as long as you made them with your own hands and tools.  Written things don’t count; neither do back-of-the-napkin sketches.  However, a working piece of software code or a cool animated slideshow does count, as does a painting or a really careful drawing.
  2. IMG_7792Food and Ephemera Count.  If you make a complicated dish, more or less from scratch, more or less the same way, five times over the course of the summer, that counts for one of your ten things.  Five times doing something like food is usually enough to fix a recipe in your mind so that you can make it again and again with variations.  If you make something ephemeral like a balanced pagoda of stones near a stream, that counts too, even though the next rainstorm or curious kid may knock it over.
  3. Make Three Things in the same material. See that Druidic list above? See how many tinctures there are, how many salts?  The order wants people to learn a process, and learn it thoroughly. That’s why you have to do it so many times.  Many Makers, from what I’ve seen, are experts in one field, and have secondary skills in other areas.  Deepen your expertise in one area this summer.  So in your list of ten things, you have to make three things of the same kinds of stuff.  Wood? OK, make three wooden things? Paper? Make three paper things.  Glass? Bubble Gum? Broken records? Doesn’t matter to me or to anyone else.  The things you build to fulfill this rule can be sculptural, they can be functional, they can be eye-candy. Doesn’t matter. Just make three things in more or less the same way.
  4. Only One Kit Counts. Let’s say you’re anxious about being a maker.  So you go to a DIY store, and you see a cute kit that you can do, and it’s not very expensive.  It’s a pony-bead project, or a leather case kit, or a diorama of some kind.  You get it and you build it.  OK, that counts as one.  But it’s like a little boy holding a Torah to make a minyan in a Jewish community— you can’t just build ten Revell models, breathing in the heavy scent of model cement, and call it a week.
  5. Follow a Book. Taking out a how-to book from the library, or ordering a book from Make Magazine, and doing all or most of the projects in that book, counts.  You’re not building kits — you still have to go to the hardware store, you still have to visit the market, you have to figure out what tools and materials you need, and then make the thing.
  6. Do One Better.  Let’s say you do a project between now and the middle of July.  And then you decide you don’t like it, and you re-do it somehow.
  7. Finish vs. Abandon vs. Fail.  Some kind of projects have definite expiration dates: “make a scarf for mother.”  Some projects sit lonely in the corner, abandoned.  Some projects just break, or don’t work, or fail in some fashion.  It could be a painting or a hardwood jewelry box you’re making for your statistically-significant other.  Whatever it is, you’re done with it.  Does it count?  Yes—If you’ve put at least ten hours of time into getting it to the fail/abandon point.  If it takes you less than ten hours to make, but it’s FINISHED, it also counts.
  8. Give Away. If you make something, and you give it away to someone else, you can count that project as if it was two projects against your ten.  Because gifts require extra forethought and planning to do right.
  9. Tell Us.  If you participate in Go Forth And Make this summer, you have to tell us.  There has to be a blog-post, a tweet, something.  Use the tag #tenmakings, or leave a comment on this blog with a link, saying what you and where to find pictures.
  10. Time Limits:  Whatever it is, it has to be made in the summertime. This is your arts and crafts credit for Summer Camp, after all.  So you can’t have started the project before June 21 of this year, and you have to have started it and mostly-finished it by September 21.

I think that’s it.  Good luck!

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  1. Hey. I’m borrowing your post to give you a link to another blog post: http://www.terriwindling.com/blog/2015/06/kith-and-kin.html

    I’m still thinking about it and not entirely sure what I’m going to make of it yet, but it’s pertinent to the land/feelings of rootlessness conversation we had on my thread.

    (I’m considering your Maker challenge and will probably take you up on it, but I want to re-read tonight and be sure before I sign on. : )

    • Oh, that’s … Elegant.

      As you know, I think, I genuinely believe that drawing and visualization-in-physical-media (i.e., painting, map-making, graphical organizing, etc), are a kind of superpower. These maps add as much texture to the post as everything else… I’m going to have to read in detail before I respond. But regarding the Maker challenge… may I suggest that you try making three maps, which touch upon the areas of your own kith? 🙂

    • Challenge/suggestion accepted. : ) I know you have many projects on your plate at the moment, but may I in turn suggest that you make such a map when the opportunity presents itself? It seems like a project that will be interesting and useful in a few ways.

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