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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.

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 bit.ly/wavemakerscratch 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 bit.ly/Wavemakersummer2016 or contact info@wavemaker.org.uk

Making waves while the sun shines

By | artists, digital, Laser cutting, stoke, Technology, Vinyl Cutting | No Comments

 

April has been a busy month here at Wavemaker, not least because we launched our new Maker Days, every Tuesday and Thursday 10am-5pm.

These two days give established makers and those just starting out on the road to makerdom the brilliant opportunity to come into our space, here on the top floor of the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley, and take advantage of our equipment, resources, great humour, fantastic hosting skills and modest nature (cough, cough!)

 

This month we have had a steady influx of makers and creatives, faces both new and also well established. We have had the pleasure of hosting the boys from Design by Weather as they wait to move into their new studio space at Spode. Our breakout space has doubled as a temporary office for the Weather team, and come rain or shine (Weather…get it?!) they have been steadily creating various website and graphic designs for local businesses and national projects.

 

Getting to grips with the laser cutter are our new members, Bret and Emma. Both working on different projects, Bret has been using the equipment to further develop ideas around creating 3D Minton tile designs for the visually impaired and Emma has been putting her Surface Pattern degree to great use by exploring different etching designs and effects. Both have been great additions to the Wavemaker space and we look forward to seeing how their research progresses.

 

Already established makers and creators in the city have also been in to try out our space. Local artists Deb Rogers laser cut some fab stencils for the new Art Stop in Stoke, which is a new creative co-working office and studio space for local arts organisations, The Cultural Sisters and Letting in the Light. If you haven’t had chance to get down there and check out Art Stop, you should do, it’s fantastic!

Another local artist who has been experimenting with the laser cutter is the lovely Nicola Winstanley, who came in to trial some ideas for a new art installation in the city. It has been great to start the first month of Maker Days off with artists from the city, using the equipment to benefit arts within the city. Long may it continue!

 

We have also had first year Birmingham City University student Liam in constructing his end of year design for his architecture degree. Liam, originally from Snyed Green, used plywood to create a model following his viewing platform brief. Through using the precision and speed of the laser cutter, he was able to start assembling something pretty amazing…let’s hope his lecturers feel the same way!

 

Another group who have been in to explore their creative flair, were the lovely ladies from the YMCA North Staffs based in Hanley. The girls created some fabulous pieces of jewellry and crafts during their maker session. We even saw some of these being sold at the monthly Community Meal hosted at the YMCA and sponsored each month by a local group or business. Alongside the meal, residents sell different items from knitted hats to ceramic crafts and CDs of original  music. It was brilliant to see the things they created here at Wavemaker being sold to the public and they enjoyed their time so much, that they will be back every fortnight to carry on creating!

 

With  a new sewing programme about to start here at Wavemaker, alongside our other offerings and Maker Days, April has definitely been a busy month and May is shaping up to be even more active. We have half term activities about to be revealed for the end of May, a new Code Club soon to be announced and yet more sessions to run with the truly talented people of Stoke, it’s definitely put a spring in our step.

 

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A Slice of Sonic Pi

By | Astro Pi, coding, digital, Music, Raspberry Pi, Sonic Pi, Technology, young people | No Comments

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly gifted when it comes to technology. For me, it conjures up images of old school workshops lined with heavy tools, the smell of sawdust and an aproned teacher, with a constant look of anxiety and exasperation etched across their face.

And Information Technology also left me scratching my head; unable to produce nothing more than a powerpoint or poster emblazoned with clipart. How times have changed.

Over the last ten years technology and our everyday interaction with it has grown beyond recognition. I have relatives under the age of seven that can operate a tablet better than I can, and whilst my parents generations keep up as best they can (my father has a hand-me-down iphone 1 which he would consider cutting edge) people of my generation have had no choice but to embrace it, if only to keep an eye on what the younger, cooler folk are doing.

Here at Wavemaker, technology and its evolution is something that drives everything that we try to do and offer. Gone are the tools and soldering irons (for now) and in their place stand laptops, a 3D printer and a laser cutter, which can do in minutes what would have taken you a whole term and multiple injuries to produce. And even though our end goal is provide a service that encourages creation through the more traditional, practical methods as well as digital technology,  it is with this digital technology that is our initial focus.

If you have never heard of Raspberry Pi or even Sonic Pi for that matter, don’t worry, you are not alone. In essence, Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized single board computer. It was developed in our very own UK (hoorah for us!) and is an affordable, innovative way for schools and young people to engage in computer science. You can write code, create programmes and even play Minecraft using one of these little Pi’s. Amazing! The thing that is truly brilliant though, is that this technology has been developed further and from this Sonic Pi evolved.

Sonic Pi has nothing to do with the hedgehog and everything to do with sound waves. Simply put Sonic Pi allows you to create music using live coding. It was created by Dr. Sam Aaron who….wait for it…..is actually from our very own Stoke-on-Trent! (Again another hoorah for us!)

With regards to computers, smartphones, apps, software, code controls it all. But this is code that has already been pre-written.  The difference with Sonic Pi, is that not only does it create sounds that can be composed into music, you create all of the code live, in that moment. There are options to use pre-produced samples, but these can then be used to accompany live coded music, just in the same way musicians sample songs to make new ones. Sonic Pi also includes countless synthesisers and FXs that can be used to make your creation even more interesting. Ameatur music production this is not, given time to master the various options available, anyone, even you, could become a Sonic Pi DJ extraordinaire.

Here at Wavemaker, we decided to run an Introduction to Sonic Pi session with some of the lovely young people at Unity School, who come to us every week to explore new technology. After talking through the basics using the fantastic resources available online, and having downloaded Sonic Pi to each laptop prior to the session (which is free and extremely easy to do) the guys were ready to go.

At the beginning of the session they had no idea what coding was or Sonic Pi for that matter, and after two hours of running through the very basics, they were experimenting with different sounds, producing short pieces of music and most importantly having fun, whilst learning a process that is behind every website, social media platform and smartphone application in the world.

Sonic Pi is definitely at the forefront of music technology, so much so, that it is leaving earth to explore the final frontier, actual space. The International Space Station to be exact, with our very own Tim Peake. Currently, schools all around the country are competing, to create a piece of Sonic Pi music, that will then be sent to space and played on the Astro Pi, a modified version of the Raspberry Pi and they only have until the 31st March to do so!

Although the music created by Unity won’t be going into space just yet, the morning was a still a brilliant success and we can’t wait to help improve the Sonic Pi skills of others (and ourselves) at our next Sonic Pi session. Ultimately, the Sonic Pi experience is just great fun and a million miles away from the computer science of old. If this is what the future holds for technology, we love it! Rave, House, Grime, Soul, Rock on!

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Half Term Wavemaking Workshops

By | 3D design, 3D Printing, coding, Craft, digital, minecraft, Python, Raspberry Pi, robotics, Science | No Comments

For anyone who has ever watched the late 80’s film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner the phrase, ‘Build it and they will come,’ will be a familiar one. That is exactly how we felt here at Wavemaker when we decided to organise a half term activity programme, which took place last week here at the Mitchell Arts Centre. Okay, we weren’t building a baseball pitch for the deceased baseball legends of the past but the goal seemed at times just as far fetched. This was our first real foray into the world of workshops and offering the people of the city the opportunity to learn new and exciting skills.

 

The week was packed with range of different activities from Metal Embossing with the brilliant local artist Belinda Latimer, Robotics with Kai Longshaw one of our regular makers to computer coding using Python and Raspberry Pi, run by two contributors and coding wizards, Rich Steele and Sam Freeman. We even had Birmingham City University student and past Holden Lane pupil Liam Witham leading his first 3D Design workshop, using skills that he has honed during his study of Architecture.

 

To our delight all the workshops were received fantastically well, Mr. Costner knows best after all. We had a range of ages participate across the week, with parents even getting involved in the workshops, learning new skills alongside their children, which was brilliant to see.

 

The young people that attended were a pleasure to work with, and some even taught us new skills and techniques! Some who attended the morning introductory workshops even decided to stay on for the more advanced afternoon sessions, which was a true testament to the talent of the workshop leaders and interest they generated around their activity.

 

All in all in was a week of fun and learning for all involved, especially the Wavemaker team! Individually we learnt how to code using Raspberry Pi, how to assemble a robotic arm and how dangerous yet amusing TNT can be in a game of Minecraft.

 

As we start to evaluate the feedback from our half term week, we will endeavour to use this to structure our next holiday workshops sessions at Easter.

The popularity of some workshops, especially the group building in Minecraft, has prompted us to think about hosting more regular sessions throughout term time, including weekends so get your Minecraft t-shirts washed and ironed for that! Full information on this can be found on our website and Facebook as soon as they are announced in a few weeks time.

 

We built it and people came, what more could we have asked for. Massive thank you to everyone that was able to attend, we had a great time and hope you did too. And if you don’t want to take our word for it, Edwin a 7 year-old Minecraft Wizard who attended some of our workshops said it was ‘Epic, awesome and brilliant’, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves. We hope to see you all again very soon.