This is part of my ongoing Make Summer Camp program. I’m encouraging teachers and others to Make ten things between now (whenever you first encounter this program and decide to join in), and September 21. You still have a few weeks to get this done, of course. In my Make Summer Camp summer, I’ve made books and cardboard machines, origami and a few other things. What will you make?
Manuscript pageSo in some ways, this is cheating. This is me coming back to my gaming roots, and my Hermetic studies, as I make a scroll with the text of Thomas Taylor’s Hymn to Mercury.  I’ve written my own version of the Orphic Hymns, at least seven of them.  This will have an illustration of Mercury in the upper left-hand corner, and down in the right, a layout of the geometric proof of the doubled-square, or eight pointed star, which is allegedly one of Mercury’s symbols.  It’s the companion piece to a similar piece I did of Jupiter a few years ago, to hang in the coffee house of a friend of mine — the same coffee house where I’ve got an art show in November, actually. But this wasn’t the only work I managed to get done today.  I also worked on another communications project, or paper engineering project if you like.  It involved taking an iPad Mini box, and turning it into a working toolbox for the tools I use for paper-engineering and bookbinding and so forth.  IT seemed appropriate to make such a box, given how many tools I’ve acquired for this recently: a bone folder, an awl, and other sharp pointy bits.   Bookbinder's boxIt turns out to be less easy to wrap an Apple box in quality paper than I thought it would be.  For one, the paper on the outside of such boxes is of high quality and glossy — it does not hold glue well, which presents some challenges in attaching paper to it. For another, it’s very difficult to fold the paper correctly to match the inside of the box without ripping it. I did, in several places.  For another, the box is already designed to be finger-tight.  They don’t want any grubby hands unintentionally opening the box in the store; and they don’t want the box to fall open when carried carelessly, dropping a multi-hundred-dollar piece of electronics on the floor to break.  As a result, the box is quite well engineered — and this means that there isn’t really enough room on the box to accommodate another layer of paper and one of glue, without making the box too tight to open.

This one opens, just barely. But it’s not a quality fit, I have to say. I could have done better.

Bookbinder's boxNeither of these projects was hugely hard for me.  The first made use of graphic design and illustration skills that I’ve carefully cultivated since 2009 at least; and draw on things I learned from My Mother the Book Designer (MMBD). The second is just cutting paper and gluing it into place, however haphazardly.  It’s not very engineering prone.

But as always, it’s helpful to have actual examples to show to students of the kinds of work that they can do in your MakerSpace/ DesignLab/ HackerRoom/ TinkerLab/ ColLaboratory. In my room, I have to be Maker-in-Chief and Learner-in-Chief, and provide the models that others can improvise on, embellish, redesign, remix, and re-create anew.

They don’t have to do what I do. But they do need to see what can be done, so they know how to go on from there.