4 Steps to Becoming A Maker

You may have noticed in my Twitter bio that I refer to myself as a maker. The term is becoming more and more known but for those who haven't heard it used before, a maker is a philosophy/worldview that is an alternative to a consumer. Many of us have one skill or trade that we make a living from and we need to purchase everything else that we need or want.

A Maker will examine their life and see what they could do the reduce the amount that they buy and what could instead be made. Everything is fair game, food, entertainment, clothing, electronics, etc. Some do it out of financial necessity, because fixing or making something yourself is often the cheaper way to go. Others do it out of the sheer rush and excitement one gets by creating. To have full control over how a project turns out is priceless.

If I have piqued your interest, get started! There is no admission fee or club to join. The hardest part about being a Maker is that initial first step. Doubt and fear might keep you from trying something new and concern that you don't know enough to start could paralyze you into giving that control over to someone else and just reverting back to buying stuff. Making something is an act of love, so think about what you want to create whether it be practical or aesthetic, and do it.

My steps for creating are as follows:
1) Inspiration - Just being in this amazing world, you are going to see some incredible things. Sometimes I come across something that someone else has done and I want to replicate it. Other times I will have an idea come upon me and a powerful desire to make it. One great place to get inspiration from is Make Magazine.

If you do not already, subscribe to the free daily newsletter. You will get hooked. Everyday I start off reading what others have done and see pictures of what others have created and it always inspires me. There is also a Craft magazine section.

2) Become an Expert - With so many people connected online now, Solomon's lamentation that there is "Nothing new under the sun," is actually a huge relief to me. There is some value in struggling, failing, and learning by doing but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel and suffer when others have already done it for you. I could spend 2-5 hours programming something from scratch or I could use part of someone else's code to give me a head start.

There is also the thought of safety and cost. If there is a potentially dangerous component to what you are doing, it behooves you to learn all you can to protect yourself. Not doing something the right way the first time could also end up costing you and derailing the project.

People usually know when I am starting a new project because I will get a stack of books from the library bigger than me or I will stay up until the wee hours of the night because the excitement of making is so compelling that I want to make sure I know what I am doing. I would rather learn as much as I can before hand and not get as frustrated later.

If you have not already looked at the Instructables website, you owe yourself a look. They have tutorials on almost anything you want to make and the community of makers leave great comments to support and help you.

3) Tools - This is a simple one. Technology exists to make our lives easier. If you are interested in doing something the "old fashioned way", mazel tov to you, but there are parts of creating that I enjoy sweating for and others that I am more than happy to let something/someone else handle.

If you are just starting out, money might prohibit you from getting the best or all of the tools you need. That's ok, take your time, borrow or rent one from a shop or craigslist and over time you will find yourself able to take on bigger projects. If you need help deciding where to put your money there is a great list if you purchase a back issue of Make Magazine #3. There is an old proverb that I recite every time I am purchasing a tool with or for someone else, "Buy the right tool and you will only cry about the price. Buy the cheap tool and you will cry about it breaking and then again about the price."

4) Join Us - There is no reason why you should do it alone. There are great people who want to connect with you online, but also in person. Hackerspaces are places where you can go and work on your project. There are community tools and people there to help you. Think of it like Library 2.0. If you want to find a Hackerspace around you, check out this massive list. Go to one of the Maker Fairs. Find some friends and start a club, you have all the resources in the world to support you, so use them.

Manifesto/Maker's Bill of Rights: I leave you with this, one of the many rallying cries of the Makers and why we do what we do. Happy Making!

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