Meet Daniella Vickerstaff – Resident Lighting Designer and Chief Electrician at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

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Daniella is fortunate to work at the New Victoria Theatre, a vibrant producing theatre in the heart of The Potteries. The New Vic creates its own shows as well as housing touring productions, so there’s always plenty to keep track of. She has a varied job which includes designing lighting for five main house shows a year. You might have seen her work in The Wicked Lady, The Borrowers, 101 Dalmatians and the most recent Christmas show, The Snow Queen. As well as lighting design, she manages all aspects of production electrics and makes practicals, projection pyrotechnics and flying elements. Daniella is always keen to learn and try new things and so works on a freelance basis on other theatre productions and installation work.

She tells me that she first got involved with Wavemaker by attending one of their workshops with her children:  “We all had a great time at the workshop but I also liked the way they were set up with a range of state of the art equipment. I could see lots of possibilities for using their facilities, particularly equipment that we don’t have access to at the theatre. So when we had the chandeliers to make for our Christmas show, The Snow Queen, I approached them to ask if it was possible to produce them at Wavemaker out of vinyl. Ben and Alex said ‘yes’ and that was the first project we produced using the vinyl cutter. This was an exciting opportunity because it enabled me to make the chandeliers to our exact specification and design.”

Since then, Daniella has been to other events with her children and will be providing a workshop for Wavemaker during the summer holidays. She said: “We’ve decided to call the session ‘Electro Fashion’! It will allow young people to learn how to customise their clothing and shoes. They will use conductive thread and ultra-thin LEDs that can be sewn into clothing – no soldering needed”.

One of the things that has kept Daniella returning to Wavemaker is the “excitement and enthusiasm of Ben McManus (Wavemaker’s CEO) and Alex Rowley (Operations Manager). They support and encourage you no matter what project you come up with”. She has also enjoyed being part of a local creative hub where anyone can go to ask questions, investigate and to grow. “What’s exciting about Wavemaker is that they create a bridge between ideas and being able to achieve them – both professionally and in educational terms.”

“I have found them an invaluable resource and great partner to work with. In the future, I would like to see them growing in size so more people can visit and have a great time getting to grips with tech in a fun environment.”

What makes a maker – part two

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So at the end of my last “Long Read” article, I didn’t really answer the question that I started with. Well, I hinted at it. I said that a maker was a creative, curious, intuitive, determined person – but those are just some of the hats that makers wear.

I’ve been working more closely with the Wavemaker gang over the last few months, and it’s given me a lot more insight into what makes a maker. From the perspective of the core team – Alex and Ben making is more than the physical assembly of new objects. They speak about making in the way that many would talk about a religious conviction – with the fervour and excitement of those who have just glimpsed a cosmic clue.

What I’m beginning to understand is that the “maker mindset” isn’t really about making at all, it’s about thinking. It’s about having the knowledge and confidence in your ability to find a solution, when you’re able to make something you can look at a situation and visualise what is going to come out of it. It’s about having the bravery and the curiosity to ask questions, and to see others who are on the same journey as you, and help them along. Whilst the ability to make might save you money here and there as you make a shelf, or a charm, the ability to do it yourself is remarkably liberating. We grow up conditioned culturally to do nothing physical, we work with our minds, not our muscles. We dream of working as a game designer, a photographer, a banking expert in derivatives (I’ve no idea what this is, but it’s an actual job). Decades of educational policy and snobbery have drummed into much of society that success equals academic success, and until very recently academia held vocational achievement in virtual disdain (I’m sure this is far from over). This is the very attitude that Wavemaker is fighting against, making something isn’t the option for those who cannot, it’s what those who think in terms of solutions do. Making requires an ability to visualise in 3D, to understand material properties and the digital and physical tools required to realise them – anybody who can do that certainly isn’t in the ‘B team’ at all.

In terms of life at Wavemaker HQ nothing stands still – and at the mid point of a three year project it’s time for some introspection, and to decide what the future will look like and how it will be made. Planning ahead is difficult for us all, none of us know what work, health or relationships will bring – but when your future is tied to the education priorities of Government, political will and the amount of grant money available then divining the future becomes even more opaque. I say divining the future because that’s what it’s often like when you are talking to Ben and Alex. They can see the future, they can see the city with its burgeoning independent maker population, with young people able to access tools and resources – and they are frustrated that they can’t get the present out of the way fast enough.

Stoke-on-Trent has a wide range range of communities, from professionals in central flats to well-heeled suburban types and those who are just getting by on an estate that isn’t easily commutable to the city centre. Whilst Stoke isn’t a huge city in terms of population, it covers 39 square miles and not all of that area is well served by local transport – if people don’t have access to a vehicle then Wavemaker HQ in Hanley may as well be in Japan for all the good that it can do to a community. For families or individuals who are on a tight budget the answer must be something other than telling them to get an uber into Hanley. The obvious answer is for them to take the show on the road.

Meet the maker bus (it’s more of a van) – Remember the Mystery Machine that Scooby Doo and his friends drove about in, waiting to visit a spooky abandoned fairground or a derelict lumbermill? Think of that, expect completely different in terms of mysteries solved (sadly). Being able to physically go to someone’s community and show interest in them is worth far more than simply saving them the effort of making a journey. It shows that as a person or an organisation with the skill, the knowledge the money; you truly are interested in that community, what you can do for them and how they can reciprocate. It’s an authentic form of inclusion and bridge-building. It’s honest, it says that you cared enough to show up, not as a flying visit, but for the day and with al

your stuff. Being there reduces friction. Many of us have joined a gym only to think of 800 reasons why crying into a recently emptied KFC bucket is preferable to a session with the personal trainer – the same is even more true for a making situation. If someone is the first in their family to have an idea about making, they may not have the confidence and the belief in themselves to tell friends and family about that idea. They my have told someone they know that they want to do something creative only to be laughed at, or told that it isn’t for “people like us”. The chances of them making the journey in to town to tell a group of strangers about their idea is pretty remote. If the maker space is at their youth club or at the end of their street then it’s on their turf – and that’s important, because we are our communities.

In a city with huge income disparities it’s really important to combat the idea of ‘otherness’. It’s easy to assume that everyone is educated, is liberal, has an iPhone – but that’s not who we are as a city, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. We are Stoke, we are Vale, we are Irish, and Nigerian and English and we can all learn new skills through making.,Whether it’s the confidence to run with an idea that we’ve had, the skills needed to fix something at home, or an idea to create something new and a bit daft – just for the fun of it. As a city, and a society we are the sum of our parts, and an organisation such as Wavemaker must show that it can offer as much to a code club in Hanley as it can to a youth group in Bentilee if it’s truly going to be able to claim that it is representing, working with – and most importantly, enabling the city.

To finish, my swearing dinosaur project is still a work in progress, partly because I’m terrible at managing my time, partly because I’ve been busy and party because there’s no such thing as “working on one project” at Wavemaker.


Credit to Sean Dissington

What makes a maker – part one

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What makes a maker? It’s an easy enough question, no? I write and take photographs – am I a maker? I tend to think not. I’ve never pored over a design book, sweated over Illustrator, got my hands covered in grease and oil (I did once do an oil change on a Fiat Panda in 1997 – but I’m not convinced that counts). In short, I’m not a maker. I’m envious of people who are, as like many people I’m convinced that it’s something that other people do.

Wavemaker want to change that. Their slogan “Making making work” is easy to dismiss as a cute marketing play on their name, but once you meet the team you understand that the passion and determination mean that it’s a matter of when rather than if, they will meet their goal of enabling ‘maker culture’ in Stoke-on-Trent. They want to get people in the city to feel that they have the talent to make things, and they want to be the ones to facilitate it.

One question you might want to ask is “why bother?” and that’s understandable. The truth is that community art projects, making spaces and community spaces have a proven role in regeneration. By proven I mean the likes of Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Arts Council and The Scottish Government have all found links between community empowerment, art/creative activities and the regeneration of communities and urban spaces.

I met with Alex – Wavemaker’s Operations Manager on one of the open maker nights; a free event where attendees can meet the team and see the equipment that’s on offer, as well as ask all the questions that they want to. There really are no stupid questions here: The range of equipment they have is bewildering; from sewing machines to Raspberry Pi computers and countless other tools. A laser cutter named Major Laser sits in one corner opposite an Apple Macintosh connected to a mixing deck and reference speakers, and computers with Adobe software running into thousands of pounds are waiting to be used.

 “Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Arts Council and The Scottish Government have all found links between community empowerment, art/creative activities and the regeneration of communities and urban spaces”

One commitment that Wavemaker insist that all space users make is that they respect the intellectual property of others. That way as users of the space you as a maker of a new object can ask me as a photographer what I think of your idea, safe in the knowledge that I’ve committed not to steal your invention. This not only promotes a culture of open idea sharing, but allows makers to forge meaningful, trusting connections that they might not have been able to in a different kind of space. The value of feedback and connections that can come about from ad-hoc conversations is immense and allows new space users to get involved with their project, and get to know new people, and learn new skills quickly.

A couple of days later I caught up with Ben McManus – CEO at Wavemaker. We all know people with a big personality, and some of us know people with huge personalities – Ben’s enthusiasm for Wavemaker is beyond huge. No sooner had I started to sip my dry cappuccino than he was talking to me

about the importance of STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Maths) both at a curricular level – and from the point of view of an education system producing talented, skilled and “capability resilient” young people, those who have the skills and confidence to take on a challenge or cope with an increase or drop in demand for a particular skill in the labour market. As someone who attended school in the 1980s, the closest I came to making was a woodwork shop and an Apple Macintosh so I needed a run down on everything that the team do.

A key element is outreach, Ben advised me. Team member Emma will work with a school, college or community group to either help them make the best use of equipment that they have, but aren’t using in every way that they could – or will help to engage them in new projects. Some of these tie together real world demands with learning new skills so that learners feel engaged and that they are working toward something that’s real.

The second of their offers is to support makers – both current and budding, professionals, students and the generally curious through their Open Maker nights, and themed sessions. Here attendees can get support on a project, valuable feedback and advice on production methods and their product or idea as well as help with the tools to use. Whilst it’s not a manufacturing space, a budding designer could certainly turn an idea into a concept and start some small-scale manufacturing here to get themselves into a position where they could see the Bank Manager for a start-up loan. That these facilities are on offer to 12 year olds as well as 52 year olds speaks volumes. The ability to get something to a proof of concept stage with a much lower cash outlay means that Wavemaker can help people who have no way of funding their own idea.

I’ve written a lot of articles for REBEL, and I think everyone has the word passion in it. It’s palpable at Wavemaker, it’s almost visible in the air. There’s a burning desire amongst Ben, Alex and Emma to get people involved, to motivate young people, adults, everyone to have a go at making something. It’s impossible not to feel inspired. I’m very good at being apathetic, but after two hours in Alex’s company, I was doodling an idea of something to make myself. And why not? Of all the places that there should be makers surely it should be Stoke-on-Trent? Our forebears took clay and made it beautiful, they made bricks, steel, iron – there’s a history of making in Stoke-on-Trent. Wavemaker want there to be a future.

Many of us have been in a situation when learning where we’ve had to produce some work for an assignment, but the project and the end use are fabricated. You go through the assignment because you must – but it feels arbitrary, and frankly pointless. Wavemakers’ approach is to work with a local business or organisation who have an actual need, and then to tie that in to the brief for the learners. From the outset they know that what they are doing is not only a real need, but will be used and visible in the world; to get your stuff out there is the dream for anyone who is creative. These commercial links not only assure makers and learners that they are doing things that matter in the real world, but they put makers in touch with some of the creatives and entrepreneurs who are driving the resurgence of our home city – and as any Rebel reader knows, there are some big names out there.

“Of all the places that there should be makers surely it should be Stoke-on-Trent? Our forebears took clay and made it beautiful”

For me then, Wavemaker is a gem. It’s where ideas meet determination, where inspiration meets skill and where there’s a laser cutter with a daft name. To be able to talk to people who don’t know you about an idea is valuable. You won’t get the dismissive “You can’t do that” or the blindly approving “You’ll be amazing” that friends or family might give you. You’ll get the truth, you’ll get support and with your determination as well as Wavemaker behind you, you’ll get there. I am off on a journey that involves a T-Rex that swears a lot, for no reason other than I’ve never made anything before, so why the hell not?


Credit to Sean Dissington, first published on

The future’s bright, the future’s digital!

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The beginning of November was a particularly busy time for the Wavemaker team, it saw us attending and showcasing at a number of tech events across the region. They were all so interesting that we thought ‘why not share them?’, so we are!

First up was the Digital Tech Conference at Staffordshire University. With it’s revamped Mellor Building and the opening of the Digital Kiln, Staffs Uni is really flying the flag for all things tech across the county and beyond. We were also invited to take a look around the brand new recording and television studios at the University a few weeks ago, for anyone thinking of pursuing a career in music, television or sound production, this is really the place to be. As well as music the University also boasts a thriving student community for games design and creation, which resulted in The Digital Tech Conference having a healthy attendance of students and professionals alike. The event offered a number of talks by leading industry experts around various areas of tech, from 3D design, VR, introduction to coding for children, cyber security and many, many more. The conference allowed you to select which talks you thought more personally appealing, so it was up to the attendee to pick and choose what they listened to. I decided to select a series of talks that were relevant to our mission here at Wavemaker, and were going to offer us an insight into the future of technology and how to encourage others to get involved. One of the most engaging talks from the day, was the opening speaker who addressed all the attendees at the start of the day. This was Jeff Coghlan, founder a design and gamification company called Matmi. Having produced online campaigns for Alton Towers’ VR Rollercoaster Galactica, interactive apps and promotions for leading brands, Jeff was more than qualified to talk about the future of digital technology. And that future, ladies and gentlemen, is VR.

Before attending the event, I had a good idea about VR, although I was never a Pokemon Go-er. But after Jeff’s talk and also hearing a few more companies talk about the future of VR, I left the conference a lot more aware than I had ever been before. I learnt about augmented, virtual and mixed reality. How VR and mixed reality will soon become a part of everyday life, a way to organise your day without out looking at your phone, or checking a computer. The possibility of projecting your daily calendar, your evening shopping list, next weekend’s family get together onto your office wall as a hologram and then interacting with it, seemed a lot closer than I originally thought. I learnt about new software and hardware being developed, from HoloLens by Microsoft to Magic Leap and Expeditions from Google. There was also talk of a new VR gaming experience called The Void. A VR game built in physical form, a VR Quasar is the best way to describe it, and it looked amazing!

Continuing with the VR theme, I also attended a talk by Figment Productions, the company behind the world’s first VR rollercoaster, Galactica at Alton Towers. I knew about the ride due to advertising, general interest and Ben, our CEO’s recent visit, which left him a little green around the gills….Any way to hear the company talk about concept, all the way through development to completion was very interesting and engaging. Watching footage of their team with VR headsets gaffer taped to their heads, during the early stages was amusing and also insightful, reinforcing the notion that all ideas start basic, to make the best of what’s on offer and if the equipment doesn’t exist, design it.

At the event our CEO Ben was delivering a talk about Wavemaker, it’s formation, first year and what’s next. Entitled ‘Making, Making work’, it was an opportunity to showcase what we do best and where we see the project in the next 5 years. Referencing the digital skills gap, and how the current students at Staffs, can be best placed to offer solutions to some of these problems.

Later on in the week, we had the pleasure of attending The Future Digital Workplace event, presented by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, as part of the Staffordshire Business Festival 2016. This took place at the Uttoxeter Racecourse, and hosted various speakers and companies from across the county. Wavemaker were lucky enough to both host a stand and have our CEO Ben talking at the event too. With the 3D printer in full swing, the stand was buzzing with enquiries and inquisitive questions around 3D technology, which also looks set to continue its technological development, with pharmaceutical companies now 3D printing specific tablets.

That afternoon, we also attended another event at Staffordshire University, this time a Women in Computing event, whose guest speaker was Dr. Louise Brown, an expert in CAD design. Dr. Brown’s talk was particularly insightful and encouraging to women working within the computing industry.It also allowed for the audience to ask questions around how to get more women into technology and keep them there.

All in all, it was a very busy week for the Wavemaker team, not only was outreach energetic, but our Makerspace saw new users who attended both our Open Maker Night and our first adult workshop, Laser cut card designs. These evenings were a big success and our next Maker Night takes place Tuesday 29th November, we look forward to seeing you there!

The Manchester Science Festival 2016

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Every now and again the Wavemaker team go on a ‘learning day’, and this week we had one of those days. Last time it was Liverpool, and this time it was another northern powerhouse, the city of Manchester. From the 20th-30th October, Manchester hosted its very own Science Festival. Situated at venues right across the city, it boasts conferences, workshops, family activities and exhibitions covering all the various and wonderful forms of Science.

With only one day allocated to seeing what the Festival had to offer, we had a tight schedule to work with, to ensure we got to see as much as possible. Travelling into Manchester by train, we likened it to the school outings of our youth, turning round and talking through the gap in the chair, full of anticipation and nervous excitement. It’s safe to say the Wavemaker team needs to get out more, but none the less we were looking forward to a day filled with everything science.

First stop on our tour was the Manchester School of Art. A fabulous, modern building situated off the bustling Oxford Street, the Benzie Building was hosting an exhibition titled Mesh. This exhibition, covering the third floor and the mezzanine levels in between, showcased artists creating and experimenting using 3D printers and 3D design. As a space that offers 3D printing, we were intrigued to see what had been created, how far 3D printing can be used in order to make interesting exhibits. The products and creations were simply beautiful, a real mesh of ideas and materials, bring technology well and truly into art.

Our next stop was just up the road at the Manchester Museum, to watch a piece of hand painted stop motion animation called Ocular Bionica, exploring the use of technology in medical advances. This particular piece focused on sight loss, and the ability to regain sight using a microchip placed in the retina. It was a really thought provoking short film, and really showed the possibilities that technology offers in improving our health and quality of life. The museum itself is also fascinating in its own right. For anyone that has never visited, you should. It is a building packed with Egyptian artifacts, fossils and even the skeleton of a T-Rex. With plenty of activities on offer for children, and all for free, it is definitely worth a day spent exploring.

We then trundled to Deansgate, jumped on the Metro and hot footed it down to MediaCity, located on Salford Quays. We were there to see the Silent Signal exhibition, within the University of Salford building. Again a series of shorts and animations, and again there was a continued focus on science, the formation of cells, insomnia, and the beauty of helix. These shorts definitely veered towards the abstract and the arts, but it was great to see the two combined and delve into the art within science.

Back on the tram to Deansgate, we made the short journey to the Museum of Science and Industry, the main hub of the Science Festival. The museum was a hive of activity, with many a half term bee, buzzing from one exhibition stand to the next. We explored space, the catalytic qualities of gold, renewable water systems and even coded our own train signal using the BBC Micro:Bit. The Museum had stalls from all over the country, rooms filled with science professionals and enthusiasts. You could have easily spent hours there, trying out each experiment and learning amazing new things. The Manchester Science Festival had been a hit, and by the time Wavemaker departed, like true festival goers we were exhausted but jubilant. If you’d like any more information about what we saw, or would like to suggest similar activities Wavemaker could host, then get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition

By | 3D design, artists, coding, Craft, digital, Laser cutting, minecraft, Music, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, Work, young people | No Comments

Even though the sun is still shining over Stoke-on-Trent in September…yeah we’re not sure what’s going on either….one thing is for certain, here at Wavemaker, the summer is officially over and what a summer is was! Stoked!

After six, activity packed weeks, our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 programme came to a brilliant end on Friday 2nd September, with our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition. It was the first time Wavemaker had attempted to organise any event like it. A whole day, open to the public, showcasing all of the fabulous makes and creations of the summer. But here at Wavemaker, we are nothing if not ambitious, so whatever the outcome, we were going to go for it!

Now this wasn’t the “National Portrait Gallery” style of exhibition. Yes, there were information plaques….all laser cut on card, because that’s how we roll…but everything was there to be looked at, touched, picked up and explored. The ‘No Touching’ sign at galleries has always suggested a challenge rather than an instruction, so this exhibition was going to be different. Child-friendly and an opportunity to play, was high on the agenda when it came to planning our big day.  

Our Makerspace became a gallery for the day, all the different makes from the holiday laid out, from our printed tote bags, to our Minecraft Steve cushion. We also had our rubbish fashion creation from our BIG Make, displayed in all its recycled glory. Pinhole cameras and their developed images snaked to the ceiling, as the 3D printer laid out another fascinating creation, layer on layer.

In our breakout area, the BIG Make Retro Games Arcade was ready to play, alongside laptops showcasing our Summer Scratch Code Club Competition entries. Our entries were all so imaginative and entertaining. The only criteria was that they had to be focused on Stoke-on-Trent and the great things about our city, in keeping with our bid for UK City of Culture 2021. We had oatcakes, Back the Bid animations and timed bottle kiln building. Our winning entry came from a Code Club member, Ryan, who at 9 years old is one of the younger members of our Wavemaker Code Club, alongside our brilliant second place Eva-Jayne, another fellow Code Clubber.  Ryan created a scratch game which featured his very own character “Oatie”, yep, you guessed it, an oatcake. It also featured a Spitfire, drawing on the heritage of fellow potter, Reginald Mitchell. For those who don’t know, Reginald Mitchell designed many planes, including the Spitfire, which gained critical acclaim during WWII, although unfortunately, Reginald died before he saw the true success of his creation.

Judging the entries was Tim Wilson, Regional Co-ordinator of West Midlands Code Club. Tim very kindly popped in early afternoon, had a play on the scratch creations, investigated the code and selected a winner. That winner was Ryan, who was thrilled to be awarded the first prize, which was a BBC Micro:Bit, which will hopefully encourage him to continue coding and making.

Alongside our Scratch entries, we had a different coding software for people to have a play with. Processing software is an open source programme developed by visual artists, using a form of javascript code. It was introduced to us at a workshop run as part of the Micro World sessions run in conjunction with the Leicester City Festival. It was a brilliant introduction into coding to create moving images and visual pieces of art, if it sounds like something you would be interested in, check it out here.

Downstairs, we had Minecraft, a game and educational tool, that has proved extremely popular since we began running Building in Minecraft workshops in spring this year. Our exhibition gave people the opportunity to explore our online Wavemaker world, have a look at some of the amazing builds on display and also have a play. We also showcased our fantastic BIG Make Graffiti art, a collaboration with the talented artists at Entrepreneurs in Piccadilly, Hanley and some budding young street artists, who joined us during the holidays to try their hand at spray painting. The piece they created was on proud display, alongside a time lapse film of it being created.

We also wanted the exhibition to host some locally established artists, so we were very happy to display pieces from Entrepreneurs’ clothing line, which included screen printed T-shirts, My Name is Mike and Amy Davis, two artists based at the ACAVA Spode Artist Studios, who both submitted very interesting pieces for the public to look at and explore.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who attended, submitted items, entries and also helped make the day and the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016, a great success and one to remember! After all that summer excitement, Wavemaker is now closed to the public for two weeks, to give us time to refuel and freshen up for the Autumn/Winter term. We’ll be back with a firework bang in no time at all.

#StokedonTech: Week 3

By | 3D design, artists, coding, digital, Laser cutting, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, Work, young people | No Comments

The creative waves are still rolling in at Wavemaker, especially during the third week of our Stoked-on-Tech summer programme. Our third week was all about street art and stencils, using the laser cutter and design software to produce some brilliant images.

There were many highlights of the week, including Wednesday’s “Make your own printed Tote Bag”, which saw people as young as eight years old master design software skills to create their own personalised bags. Of course Minecraft Steve made an appearance, as did some really unique japanese inspired designs. At the end of the workshop everyone certainly had a bag for life.

We were also joined by a community group on Wednesday afternoon, as part of Appetite’s Big Feast weekend preparations. The group again learned design software skills to produce stencils using the laser cutter. Now, those of you who have tried should understand when I say, creating stencils is the trickiest thing. Trying to visualise in your head what will be cut, what images you will lose once cut, is a mind bending process. What was once an intricate image with beautiful detail can quickly become a big hole in a piece of card, an empty outline of nothing. So it’s not as easy as you might think, but our guys did a brilliant job!

We also ran a sold out Graffiti stencil workshop on Friday to a room full of eager makers, wanting to know all the tips and skills needed to be the next Banksy. And boy, were they hot on the Bristolians heels. We had cats, dogs, hamsters in wheels, as well as octopuses and minecraft swords. There’s no doubting it was an eclectic mix.

Running alongside this fantastic workshop, we also had the privilege of hosting two very talented local graffiti artists Tom Edwards and Andy Cooke, from Entrepreneurs in Piccadilly, Hanley. These boys, alongside fellow artist and businessman, Rob Fenton, also run the Hall of Fame legal graffiti wall in Stoke, as well as Upstairs Gallery and Present Screen Printing workshops. To say these guys know what they are talking about is an understatement! For the whole day, Tom and Andy took it in turns to create a live piece of graffiti art on the patio area of the Mitchell Arts Centre, as part of our BIG Make. People were also welcome to come along, have a look and also have a go at spray painting stencils onto the piece. The sun was shining, the paints were flowing, it was a great afternoon. Who knows, maybe our very own Blek le Rat was born that day.  

The holiday continues to roll on with workshops centred around dressing the city for the bank holiday extravaganza, Appetite’s The Big Feast, which will showcase a whole weekend of street performances, art and culture across the city. Wavemaker will also be working with Future Lights, a Staffordshire University supported competition for recent ceramics graduates from across Europe, where we will introduce them to new technologies and possibilities in ceramic design. And if that wasn’t enough, Friday 2nd September Wavemaker will have its very own Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition. This will give the opportunity for makers across the summer to showcase their creations from the various workshops, and also give local artists in the city the opportunity to exhibit their work, bringing together present artists from the city with our future makers. We want to give young people in the city the chance to meet current artists and make them aware that the career opportunities are there to do what you love, and love what you do.  

The holidays may be drawing slowly to a sunny close, but there’s no doubt the last few weeks will be some of our busiest. #StokedonTech #LoveStokeLouder

#StokedonTech: Week 2

By | 3D design, 3D Printing, artists, coding, Craft, digital, Laser cutting, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, summer, Technology | No Comments


Two weeks in and our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 is in full flow. A handmade Minecraft Steve cushion adorns our sofa…and a creeper that we made to keep him company. Our first BIG Make, a retro games arcade using RetroPi, stands proudly in the break out area, Doom flashing invitingly at our visitors. It’s a welcome addition to our video and photo booth, again masterminded by the brilliantly creative and talented Alex of the Wavemaker team.

The first session of our Stoked-on-Tech Summer, kicked off with a two hour session in Minecraft, which still continues to attract fans across all ages. Our enthusiasts turn up, rocking Minecraft t-shirts of every kind and spend two hours flying through our very own Wavemaker World, helping each other build the most amazing structures and generally just having a ball.

To continue with the theme of Minecraft we also decided to put on a Make your own Minecraft Steve cushion. Now, some people may think that sewing is hardly exciting, but I’ll have you know that it’s a skill that will always be important. Teaching children to mend and create from scratch is so important to us. The pride you get from creating something from nothing is what we get up for in the morning. In a society that is slowly turning its back on the ‘throw away’ culture, the ability to mend and sew is more necessary than ever. Everyone has that one toy or teddy that was loved to death as a child and had to mended multiple times. And there was no greater gift that receiving said toy back, all limbs in tact….even if a little wonky.

Our budding sewers did a fantastic job, the patience that is required is sometimes something that puts people off activities like sewing, but these guys had the patience of saints. They were going to sew that Steve cushion, no matter how many times they lost their thread or struggled with their needle. At the end of the two hours they all left with their cushions, made from determination, commitment and a love of everything Minecraft. We’ve since been told that Steve is being very well looked after at home, and a creeper of their very own making has also joined him. It’s good to know that he’s settled.

In week one we also hosted our first BIG Make and we had a week of building, wiring, sawing and drilling. The guys who came to help were fantastic! They jumped head first into the challenge, and at the end of Friday afternoon everyone stepped back in wonder. We’d done it. Then ensued the fraught ‘taking of turns’, it’s a surprise we’re not still all stood there now waiting for our go.

Friday rolled around and it was the turn of our Wanne be a YouTuber workshop. This workshop was set up in response to a number of young people, whose love of vloggers and online commentators encouraged them to have a go themselves. If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em I guess! The session covered everything from setting up, to internet safety, editing and creating their first online video. Parents even attended the session, intrigued as to what was involved, eager to get all the information required to ensure their mini YouTuber was happy and also safe.

Week two the activities continued with Rubbish Accessories, following on this theme of making from nothing, and make we did! Coin purses from drinks cartons to be exact. Simple yet very effective. One attendee even runs her own crafting group for kids and said the activity was a great idea for her own class. It’s always good to spread crafting knowledge beyond the walls of Wavemaker HQ and we hope the group get the same fabulous results ours did.

Our BIG Makes have continued, this week with Recycled to Regal fashion creation. An opportunity for budding designers to get involved in creating a haute couture costume made entirely of recycled rubbish. The finished item will put Karl Lagerfield to shame no doubt.

So that’s nearly it for another week! Customise Me is half an hour away from finishing and I can’t wait to get in there and see the decals that have been created this morning. Bedroom walls, laptops, any available flat surface will be getting a facelift this afternoon that’s for sure!

We still have four weeks left of what has so far been a great success, long may it continue until the end of the holiday and beyond. It’s safe to say that the Wavemaker team and its visitors are truly Stoked-on-Tech this summer.

Stoked-on-Tech: Scratch Coding Competition

By | coding, Science, stoke, summer, Technology, young people | No Comments

Calling all Coders! Whether you love Coding or are new to this fun and creative skill, this competition is for you.

To celebrate and promote Stoke-on-Trent’s City of Culture Bid 2021, Wavemaker have teamed up with the nationwide coding network Code Club and other Code Clubs around the city, including Hanley City Central Library,  to bring you an exciting competition for you to showcase your coding talents!

What do I need to do?

We would like you to create a piece of Scratch coding all about our amazing city, Stoke-on-Trent!

It can be:

  • A quiz
  • A game
  • An animation
  • An interactive sprite….or anything you want.

What are the rules?

  1. Coders must be aged 13 years and under
  2. Scratch project MUST be about Stoke-on-Trent and showcase all the amazing things the city has to offer!

How do I enter?

  1. Download Scratch for free if you haven’t got it all ready.
  2. Create your project.
  3. Open an online Scratch account for free at
  4. Upload project to your online account.
  5. Share your Scratch project with the WavemakerStoke – Stoked-on-Tech Summer Coding Competition Studio on the Scratch Website

***Make sure that you get permission from an adult to enter and you put your name, age and a way of contact through a parent/guardian into the Notes and Credits section of your project.***

How long do I have?

Projects must be submitted into the Scratch studio (see above details) by 5pm on Friday 26th August. The best projects will be showcased at the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition on Friday 2nd September at the Mitchell Arts Centre, Hanley ST1 4HG. The Code Competition Runners Up and Winners for each age category will be announced at 2pm on Friday 2nd September, so make sure you can attend to claim your prize and Coding glory!

Get thinking. Get Coding. Get Creating.

#stokedontech #sot2021

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

By | coding, Craft, digital, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, young people | No Comments

Summertime is officially here…..well we’ve been forecast a heat wave lasting three days and that is good enough for me! Unfortunately, long gone are the days of six week holidays, staring into the abyss of summer, no school and the constant reminder that only boring people get bored and that my parents were not there to provide entertainment….water fight it is then.

Parents, don’t you fear this summer, Wavemaker is here! This summer we have launched our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 activities programme. Six weeks of fun, making and creating, to keep your little (insert word here) entertained, interested and most importantly happy! With mornings ranging from Minecraft (Building in Minecraft)  and textiles (Make your own printed Tote Bag) to exploring new technology like Periscope (Introduction to Periscope) and also learning about the history of photography(Make your own Pinhole camera) Wavemaker have covered all bases. It really is a summer programme bursting with new activities, giving our community the opportunity to learn great skills and also the encouragement to carry on developing existing interests.

To run alongside the summer activities we will also be launching a special Scratch coding competition in association with Code Club and other clubs across the city. This competition involves children, 13 and under creating a piece of Scratch coding to promote the amazing things in the city, a way to really back the UK City of Culture 2021 bid. The competition will run for the whole summer and entries can be made by going to or check out our Scratch Coding Competition post for full details. We will also be running a Code Club drop in on Wednesday 17th August 2-4pm to help support anyone who needs guidance and support whilst creating their coding.

For a long time it’s felt like Stoke-on-Trent has a reputation of being a ‘down and out’ city when compared to its local counterparts, Wavemaker and ‘you’ are going to help change this. This summer our Stoked-on-Tech programme is all about bringing creativity and positivity to our city, instilling in our young people and community that Stoke-on-Trent has an abundance of talent, it’s a great place to live and we need to start saying that more often. I was told once not to hide my light under a bushel, and now Stoke-on-Trent needs to do the same. Let’s show off this summer!

Over the last few weeks we have been putting the finishing touches to our programme, thinking about all the things we could offer to keep people happy during the holidays. Designs by Weather designed and put together some amazing promotional material for us to spread across the city and online. Bookings are now being taken everyday for our different activities and the great thing is that they are affordable. The most you will pay for a two hour workshop is £5.90 and what’s even better is that there are a number of activities that are absolutely free! All you have to do is book on and turn up.

Another fantastic thing about Stoked-on-Tech is that we are running BIG Makes throughout the six weeks. BIG Makes will vary each week from creating a dress made completely of recycled rubbish, helping build a retro game arcade machine to creating a graffiti mural in Wavemaker HQ.  BIG Makes will take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons 2-4pm. They will be absolutely free and people can just pop in for as long or as short a time as they want to and get involved with our BIG Make.

With all this going on and everything being created, we quickly realised that if this summer was about showing off the talents of the city, we would need something to showcase this…that’s why we are hosting the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition on Friday 2nd September 11am-4pm at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley…which is where Wavemaker is based if you didn’t know that already! The exhibition will be a brilliant way to present all of the amazing makes and creations that have happened over the summer. We will also be awarding prizes for the best makes of the summer, including the best Scratch project!  It will be open to the public and anyone who may or maynot have been involved is invited to look around at raw Stoke-on-Trent talent. We also want to take submissions from established makers in Stoke-on-Trent to come and show their work alongside the creatives of the future. This will be a fabulous way of bringing together the city and showing our community how great we are. If I had a Stoke-on-Trent trumpet it would be tooting its head off right now! So sit back and unwind this Summer, Wavemaker have got this covered.  #makersgonnamake #stokedontech #sot2021
For more information about our Stoked-on-Tech activities and exhibition please go to or contact