Thursday night’s After Dark event was dedicated to the book we’ve written for all of you, called The Art of Tinkering. It was a great and fun event, with lots of guest artists, tinkerers, and of course tinkering activities featured in the book. We chose a few circuits-related activities to highlight for the evening, and in the Tinkering Studio Grace Kim led a Sewn Circuits activity, and Jie Qi helped visitors make paper circuits in the form of hats and fascinators. Both of those activities required a big commitment from the visitors in terms of time, and since we anticipated a busy night, we wanted to offer something that, while still a full tinkering experience, was quick and could serve a lot of people. Enter: The Digital Bling Bar!
The idea was to take an activity we did in the past—making jewelry with LED adornments—streamline it so facilitation could be kept minimal, and present it in a way that set the tone for the types of interactions we were hoping to see.
Signage made a big difference. Thankfully, we have Iris Gottlieb in residence with us, and she agreed to design both the sign hanging above the station, and simple instructions on the tables themselves.
There were three basic projects that you could choose from: Ring Bling, Hair Flair, and Neck Tech (we like to rhyme, quite obviously). You'd then get all the basic materials needed for the project of your choice in a martini glass right in front of you, and a brief introduction to the activity.
There was a certain theatrical element to the setup, with this “pretend bar” conceit and the martini glasses, so I decided to amp that up by embodying a sort of “Blingtender” character, showcasing all the possible projects on my person…
One of the most interesting aspect of the Digital Bling Bar was that it actually worked like a bar, and I saw many of the same social interactions that you would expect at your local drinking establishment: people massed behind the bar, and while waiting their turn tried to catch the bartender’s eye to get a spot; strangers sat next to each other and struck up conversations that had nothing to do with the activity they were both doing, but with their personal lives; there was some flirting between visitors; some people had a brief interaction—finished their project quickly and moved on—while others lingered at the bar, chatting as much as building, and getting outlandish with their ideas. We even had a last few stragglers that stayed well past “last call” and kept tinkering furiously while the overhead lights were turned on and we had started sweeping…
By my estimate, visitors ended up making just shy of 200 “blings” in the span of four hours! The whole evening was lots of fun, so stay tuned for more blog posts about out other activities.