Makerspaces: Designing an Art Room and Writing Studio

used book store jacksonville

Macaroni stuck to construction paper. The minty taste of glue paste. Rows of crayons with perfectly smooth conical tips and that that little flat end on the tippy top.

Those were some of my first art supply memories. I was born to makers and raised in a creative environment so when I imagine school, those experiences are already late in the game. I don’t remember learning to read because in my memory, I always did. But by second grade I was struggling with math. If it weren’t for oily modeling clay kept in our desks for busy work and Mr. Hedman’s Art Cart, I’m sure I would have come to hate school a lot earlier than I did.

Thanks to the rise in popularity of STEM education, makerspaces are becoming the new trend for libraries and classrooms. In fact, when I searched, “school libraries”, one of the top results was a pinterest page full of project ideas and art supplies to stock a creative makerspace for kids. That gave me a little pang of sadness, remembering the old brick library I first visited as a kid and the many skylit, carpeted book spaces I took my own children to for years…I like BOOKS in my library. But a perfect world has room for both. Making things requires space and supplies.

According to Makerspaces.com:

A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.  These spaces are open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc machines, soldering irons and even sewing machines.  A makerspace however doesn’t need to include all of these machines or even any of them to be considered a makerspace.  If you have cardboard, legos and art supplies you’re in business.  It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace.  These spaces are also helping to prepare those who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.

When I designed my own makerspace, I had multi-media work in mind. For one thing, that’s my day job, which I do from home, and work hours will be the dominant use of my space for the several years to come. This meant my desk, it’s position, lighting, computer and related technology had to top the list of priorities. By itself, that’s an office. So what makes my space a studio/makerspace instead of just a boring old grown up office in the back room of my house?

 

  • My large work table. One end is a desk. The other 7 feet is spacious enough to accommodate a sewing machine, drafting mat, and scrapbooking area. I can remove all that and lay out a large canvas. As a table, it can be as versatile as it needs to be.
  • Giant whiteboard. We bought ours from Amazon and it’s classroom size. I carefully plot out my novels and screenplays and had been previously trying to do this on large sheets of paper that came on a roll. Effective but not ideal if I needed to erase and modify anything. The white board is perfect for how I use it now and like the table, if I want to do something else, it’s versatile.
  • A very large bulletin board. Ideas come in bits and pieces. I usually transfer these to post it notes and photos, which make a work space messy fast. The bulletin board is a good solution and gives me an excuse to buy really cute push point pins.
  • 4 large Ikea book cases. Because, BOOKS. They are my friends. I needed them close by. They are also reference material, memory storehouses, and educational material.
  • Lighting. I went with floor lamps, also from Ikea, that can double as video spot lighting. Another example of the power of versatility.
  • A bathroom. Sink, shower, tile…all of these are essential for messier art projects
  • Easels. I have a large one that stands near a window and a smaller one for the table top.
  • Camera tripods
  • Green fabric “green screen”. I got this from the local fabric store. Bright green fabric that can be stretched flat for video projects.
  • Supply closet: acrylic, water, and oil paints; crayons; charcoal and graphite; stack of canvases; a variety of papers; jugs of gesso; sewing notions; costume props; musical instruments
  • Rolling art cart. Also, from Ikea. The top on serves as a “desk drawer”. The bottom two hold paintbrushes and palettes, masking tapes and large clips.

There are a few things on my dream list, like sound panels for better audio editing ability and a recording studio set up. My primary use of my space is computer related and writing, so my makerspace differs from my mother’s (primarily sewing related, with irons and machines and large tables) and my dad’s (primarily wood working, with machinery, rows upon rows of tools and and a spray room for finishing). My children would all prefer tools in theirs and some versatile work counters for cutting stencils. One of my sons dreams of a dark room. While there are several features that can be common, makerspaces have an element of the personal to them that is unique to the artist using them.

The most valued aspect of my makerspace is actually the door. A boundary between the ordinary world and a personal creative space can’t be over-emphasized. Room for thoughts and ideas, room to explore, room to work…that’s defined as much by what it is not as by what it is. This room is not a family room (although family is welcome to visit). It’s a classroom. Not the kitchen. Not an office. Walls and a door are vital. Creative souls will persist in finding ways to carve out space in communal areas but they aren’t ideal.

Here’s some cool additional reading:

The Most Interesting Makerspaces  in America, by Make.com

Very cool makerspaces for kids, by Fatherly.com

This photography feature in the New Yorker on What Goes On in the Artist’s Studio?

This beautiful collection of Famous Workspaces on Tumblr

used book store jacksonville

Photo taken at Chamblain’s Bookmine in Jacksonville, Florida

10 Things, Without the Metaphor #2

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Number one, an old man, heavyset, in a sleeveless sweatshirt, standing on his stoop at 6:15 am, looking at the blue light of his phone, not out to get the newspaper, standing there maybe out of habit.

Number two, the busy birds, too many to count, rebounding high pitched tweet-chirp-tweet-chirps.

Number three, the dew on the chair has made the back of my legs wet and the sweat on my hand sticks me to the paper as I write. It’s humid today.

Number four, it’s humid, I said that already, but seriously, it’s November 2 at 6:45 and there are streaks of salty sweat running from my temple and more between my breasts and I just felt a trickle in the little dip of my lower back.

Because Number five, I did go running this morning, just short intervals for .75 of a mile. I walked for the rest of the way.

Number six: a crow calls in 3’s, “caw, caw, caw”.

Number seven: I hear dripping water, soft, intermittent pats, but I see the pond is still. I don’t think it’s going to rain.

Number eight, caw, caw, caw.

Number nine and it’s not too early to hear the whoosh of traffic half a mile away. Commuters I’ll only join for carpool, not to the office. A vehicle without a muffler accelerates hard.

Ten is the memory that it took a chain of changes to make this morning being outside to listen and write at 6:50 on the new Mondayest day of the week. I’m glad I walked bravely into this light.

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

Jurassic World Movie Review with Family and Age Appropriate Hints

Jurassic World is a fun summer blockbuster, the kind worth coming in out of the heat to see and most certainly the kind you do NOT overthink. I had a good time with my family. I’m glad we got popcorn, fizzy sodas, and had middle-of-the-room reclining seats. The dino battle at the end is pretty epic and anyone who has seen classic Godzilla might even feel nostalgia for the clear tribute. That said, here’s the list of Stupid Truth. 1) It never quite loses the feeling that it’s part commercial, part trailer. It repeatedly advertises Coke, Pandora Jewelry, and Starbucks, not to mention the likely theme park coming attractions. 2) Bryce Dallas Howard is either horribly cast or the screenplay, already not very good, just particularly got more rotten for her lines. She irritates like dino claws on glass. 3) Speaking of her, the costuming choice (white silk and heels) was absurd. Audiences will more readily believe genetically modified dinosaurs are real before they believe she ran all through that island without twisting an ankle. It’s ridiculous. 4) And more of her- the subplot between her Chris Pratt is distracting and contrived. Spielberg should know better, unless he’s becoming the real dinosaur. 5) People who take 3 year olds into this movie are idiots. It’s borderline for kids under 10 and especially if they are sensitive. 6) I missed Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. See if if you like monster movies, need something that appeals to multiple ages, or don’t want entertainment that makes you think too hard in the summer heat. If you miss it, you won’t miss it.

Photo Taken on the Baldwin Rails-to-Trails bike path, Jacksonville, Florida

Photo Taken on the Baldwin Rails-to-Trails bike path, Jacksonville, Florida

Cake Movie Review

My favorite thing about Cake is that it doesn’t tell the story of an event; it tells the story of the aftermath, the less visible time where real living happens. This is a fascination of mine lately, especially when it comes to story telling, because its more challenging to tell a story without relying on the Thing That Happened. We never see her Accident or How She Got Her Scars. We do find out how…but it’s slowly, over time, after the effects of draining pain and loss have wasted a once beautiful person and turned her into a lacerating, bitter, utterly struggling soul. She’s an unattractive, difficult character who repulses and rejects everyone around her but a housemaid and yet, there’s an irresistible urge to root for her, to will her to discover some self-compassion and a foothold in Feeling Better. Cake is Jennifer Aniston like you’ve never seen her and it’s a great performance. Cake is for movie-goers who don’t want a story teller to do all the work for them, for those who’ve felt lost in the overwhelming tide of pain and grief and wondered how they can find their way back. ‪#‎moviereview‬

This was posted on Facebook as part of my movie review hobby. To follow more like this, click to the home page and scroll down to the bottom social area.

Photo taken at Olio Restaurant on E. Bay St. Or as one instagrammer said, "Perhaps where Ebay gets their Dry Goods"

Photo taken at Olio Restaurant on E. Bay St. Or as one instagrammer said, “Perhaps where Ebay gets their Dry Goods”

Wild Movie Review

As soon as the end credits started for Wild, I wanted to turn around and see it again. Yes, I dream of the woods and my own hike…but even one is not a hiker, this is a fantastic screen adaption of the best selling book. Breaking the pattern of, “the book is always better”, this time, it was only slightly more detailed. Cheryl Strayed tells her story of a lost girl who hikes her way found, a burdened Pilgrim trying to make progress on the path back to herself. I agree with the reviews that Reece should get an Oscar nod but let’s please, please, please not forget the director. It’s the flashbacks that are breathlessly, expertly successful: true glimpses of insight that inform yet almost frustrate, not lingering long enough to grab a fist-full of time travel and hold it. These sudden darts of memory act as sewing needle conjoining the layers of story, of mother and daughter, of past and present, to the rhythm of her footfalls on the trail. Those steps are painful: she bleeds, she screams…. and inspiring: she climbs an emotional mountain and fights to overcome her demons. Fair warning: she got lost enough to require a 1000 mile hike back to herself honestly and those scenes are graphic and ugly. There are also a ton of F-bombs. Both elements are true to the grit of the story but will not be appreciated if that isn’t your cuppa. On the other hand, if you can dig bearing witness to the ugly so that you better understand the triumph, this is a stand-out film, worth the price of admission, even more than once. ‪#‎moviereview‬

This was posted on Facebook a part of my movie review hobby. To follow more like this, click to the home page and scroll to the bottom social area.

One of our great century old oaks

One of our great century old oaks

Project Almanac Movie Review

Project Almanac felt like all the moments when I’m standing in my kitchen, trying to make enough food to feed insatiable teenagers, while they whoop and laugh and posture and tell the stories of their time, while they don’t mind that Mom is there too- in fact, they kind of like it- and they’re just happy and smart and beautiful, young and still so free. It’s a fun glimpse into millennial culture; it’s an intelligent sci-fi-in-the-present story that doesn’t take itself too seriously and never sinks down into stupid level humor. There are no special cgi effects, no Hollywood celebrities, not even any recognizable faces. It looks like big kids in almost adult bodies conducting cool science experiments in the basement and remembering that when they win, to make sure they first address the bullies and the pressures on their plates. It’s the smart kids as the heroes. If you have creative teens like mine, part of a lego-culture growing up to make Engineering the Career To Have, Project Almanac will seem like a celebration of their generation, along with enough of the Voyagers, Buck Rodgers, and Ghostwriter flavor to make parents who remember, glad. And it was a perfect option for an afternoon when a certain 14 year old asked, “Hey Mom, wanna go to the movies today?” ‪#‎moviereview‬

This was posted on Facebook as part of my movie review hobby. To follow more like this, click onto the home page and scroll down to the social area in the footer.

Ponte Vedra Beach is a guaranteed peace place, every season of the year.

Ponte Vedra Beach is a guaranteed peace place, every season of the year.

Imitation Game Movie Review

One Spark 2014

What does it really mean to be who you are? If you are changed, because some external force determined that you should, what is the cost? How much can be taken before the essence of your potential would no longer exist? Those are the haunting final questions that the Imitation Game left me with, the tragedy of a brilliant soul who was tortured and discarded and ultimately destroyed, only after he was no longer useful. Of course, the story focuses on Alan Turing and the enigma code breaking team employed by the British government to change the war. That story was told before, in 2001 with Kate Winslet, and it completely ignored Turing. So did the British government, when Turing was later investigated and shamed, abandoned by the very country he saved. Benedict Cumberbatch dissolves into Turing and Kiera does well, she doesn’t tremble or giggle too much. But I left the theater feeling sad; sad enough to not write a review for 2 weeks, sad that humanity tries to choose the parts of people we like the best, and sometimes negates the importance of that very part we want to cast aside. Who are we to do that? If someone is not who they are, they can not do the things that they do. I’m still pondering that relation. I’m typing this on a computer made possible because Turing *was*. I hope his soul is finally at rest. ‪#‎moviereview‬

Posted on Facebook as part of my movie review hobby. To follow more like this, click on the home page and scroll to the bottom social area.

One Spark 2014

This is a cool place! Jacksonville at One Spark 2014

Novel Notes: Creating a Scene Plan

5 scenes in I can already tell a spreadsheet scene plan is going to be a powerful tool for me to use.  I think I got the idea from Novel Writing for Dummies, though I’m not positive; I’ve got several help-books going at once. By using my 3 act summary in Scrivner and character list, I can now further break down each act into individual scenes, track who the characters are, and what needs to be accomplished within each scene to keep things progressing. One act in, I can already see how this illuminates the path ahead.

Photo taken at Clark's Fish Camp in Mandarin

Photo taken at Clark’s Fish Camp in Mandarin

Quote to Ponder: Ernest Hemingway

“You must be prepared to work always without applause.” -Ernest Hemingway

 

Lady Magnolia, as common a southern grace as sweet tea and afternoon storms, you know...the ones that snag the heat?

Lady Magnolia, as common a southern grace as sweet tea and afternoon thunder showers come to snag the curtain of jasmine scented heat and humidity. 

What Flannery accomplished in 2 hours a day, most of us won’t do in a lifetime.

“I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”   – Flannery O’Connor

 

It reminds me of another quote I’m fond of, that I can’t remember who said, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

I’m currently enjoying a bit of a writer’s high. After pounding away for almost a year and a half on a novel that is progressing slowly, inch square by inch square, but by getting up per the habit anyway and inching along, I had space provided when this mysterious muse decided to plop itself down on my brain and funnel its words out of my fingers. I don’t even care that it’s for an entirely different story. The feeling of my fingers airily skittering over the keyboard as words fly out without effort is worth it.

Of course, I say “without effort” and that is the funny irony! I had to first cultivate the habit, which has taken a tremendous amount of effort, much of it not fun and with no promise of any reward but the satisfaction of having done it.

So, here’s to you, 5 am! In the hours I rarely knew waking unless nursing a baby, I now have a fully summarized plot outline, start to finish. I have a cast of 9 crystal clear characters with histories and layers and a part to play in the story. I have a title, a vision for cover art, and have begun a scene spreadsheet. I say weird writer-newbie things on Twitter and sound more like a word nerd than ever before.

The terrain of writing is gradually inclining. Fleshing out all those story scenes is no doubt going to have some arduous progress and probably a few slips and slides backward too. At least I have a plan and a habit. I also have experience with ant sized increments forward. I know I’m optimist by nature but I can’t help feeling I might have a winning formula there.

Incidentally, Jacksonville achieves connectivity through its many bridges over the St. John's River.

Incidentally, Jacksonville achieves connectivity through its many bridges over the St. John’s River.