Last weekend, the Tinkering Studio participated in Barnes & Nobles Mini MakerFaire. The event was held in nationwide local Barnes & Nobles stores, and we joined the one at the El Cerrito store.
Since we love iterating on existing activities to find a new way of doing it, we took this opportunity to try something new – Paper Circuits with magazine collages! We brought paper circuit materials with tons of magazines so that people can create Paper Circuits along with the images and words that they cut out from magazines as a means of personal expression.
The space was a little bit tight (we were having two tables in the middle of the bookstore!), but it actually felt ok to work with others with such a proximity as it allowed interactions among participants and cross pollination of ideas easily.
Due to the space, we could serve only 4 or 5 people at once, but while people were waiting for a seat, they spent their time browsing magazines to pick and cut out images or words that they want to use for their paper circuits. By the time a seat becomes available, they usually had a couple of cutout collages in hands and had some idea of what they want to create with circuits.
For example, there was a girl bringing a cutout image of gift boxes and saying “I want to light up here, here, and here!” Like her, a lot of people were already having ideas for their paper circuits when they sat at the table because they already had clipped out images while waiting for a seat and had been looking at those light up cards that other people made.
This felt a bit different from our usual paper circuits activity. In our paper circuits activity, people usually try building a simple circuit first, then from there they either continue exploring to build more complex circuits or adding decorations to the circuits. In that process, people don’t necessarily have an idea what they are going to create (or decorate) on the card, the ideas are often emerging as they build the circuits. But I often hear people saying “hm.. what am I going to make??” “but I can’t draw!” “I’m not artistic.” Or, on the other hand, I also see people spend really long time decorating their card with intricate cuts using x-acto knife and sophisticated drawings. Using cutout images for paper circuits seemed to be helping get people started with ideas and plans for their creations and have them focus more on building circuits. We noticed that people spent less time on decorating or coloring their cards and were more motivated to build successful circuits to accomplish their ideas with the cutout images.
Over all, we had a great day reaching out to the local community in El Cerrito. I was a little bit surprised that a lot of people didn’t know about the Exploratorium, so it was actually good to meeting and connecting with those people who hadn’t been to the museum before and found us as a place that they would like to visit soon.
Now that holiday season is coming up, making light up cards with paper circuits will be a great activity to try in the class, home, and the museum. Using magazine cutouts for creating paper circuit cards is something we would like to try more in the Tinkering Studio. We’ll continue iterating on this activity and post more findings as we try it out!