Reminder: Creativity/productivity retreat tomorrow

Reminder for locals — we’re doing Maram writing / creating / productivity retreat at my house tomorrow (Wed), 10-3. RSVP if you plan to attend, please!

Bring your laptops, notebooks, paints, anything quiet – headphones recommended.

There are four open work spaces on the first floor — two large tables, multiple couches and comfy chairs. There’s a writing shed in the backyard that you’re welcome to use (with a small heater), and a second floor library and home office (with a door that closes). $5 to cover coffee, tea, substantial snacks (and there’s always bread and peanut butter and jam for a sandwich too). You don’t need to be there before 10, but please enter quietly if arriving later.

Day in Our Village

Maram Makerspace attended a Day in Our Village in Scoville Park on June 2nd! We had a wonderful time meeting more people in the community and sharing all that Maram has to offer.

Photos below show Kurt Hedlund and Carollina Song, helping to set up the booth. The little tech bits that Kurt brought along were very helpful, though we have to figure out how to make the tech aspect more visible generally for this kind of thing. (We’re also in dire need of a banner for the back of the tent, obviously. As soon as we finalize our logo…)

We’re not allowed to have a gas generator on the grounds, and I just didn’t have time to really brainstorm & plan tech demo stuff that would be feasible in a 10×10 tent (while also showcasing our other activities). Hmm….

Carollina set up a shaving cream + dye print-making activity that was quite popular (also quite messy when there wasn’t a grown-up supervising, but so it goes….). Nice way to draw in older kids!

Some things have worked well at Maram’s Day in Our Village booth, some less well. I admit to being a little torn about my ‘building jam’ station — the Legos and MagnaTiles worked great as a way to draw in little kids, and then their parents were stuck, and some of them actually talked to us — so good?

But I’m afraid it overall gave the booth a vibe of ‘kid activity,’ and I’m not sure how to signal ‘we’re mostly for adults, though we also let kids come to some things if accompanied by an adult, though definitely not the making cocktails event on Father’s Day…’

Also, I completely forgot all the paper airplane instructions I laboriously printed out, and I only know how to make one paper airplane myself, so that’s the one that I made, and Kurt made one, but that was it — I think origami-type stuff isn’t right for this kind of space which is loud and chaotic and people are mostly moving on quickly from booth to booth, rather than settling down to craft for a while.

But we did have beautiful, professional-looking flyers, thanks to Janea Schimmel and Alec (and Canva), and I think the ‘What would you like us to teach you to make?’ was a good interactive thing, for encouraging people to vote on what workshops we might offer next.

Which reminds me, we need to finalize the July workshops and start publicizing those too. Eep. The good thing about not having done that yet, though, is that doing this event gave me more of a sense of what people are interested in.

Definitely graphic novels — I need to find someone to teach that, because I’m not competent. Writing fiction for tweens / teens; I’m probably going to do at least a workshop on that in July, though probably not a class; I think I’ve pulled back on my ambitions there, to make sure I have enough writing time.

Lots of people wanted cooking workshops, so we should work more with Cheryl at SugarBeet to make those happen jointly when possible. Lots of interest in personal essay writing. A few people were looking for ideas on what to do with their 3D printer, so I think maybe Kurt should just teach that class too.

A few last photos from Maram’s booth at Day in Our Village. I am envious of Pamela Penney’s drop spindle — well, mostly I want to learn how to use it. 🙂 We took a poll on what kind of classes people are most interested in — tech, writing, and cooking were high on the list, so we may focus on that for the July workshops, which we’re scheduling this week.

(While I’m here, I’ll remind you that June workshops are coming up soon…)

Father’s Day Weekend!

Father’s Day weekend, we’re teaching a host of workshops at the house — I’ll be teaching one on making botanical art (bookmarks, cards, poetry collages), and one on Sri Lankan cocktails (made with arrack, a coconut-flower liquor). There are LOTS of others, from writing to textile art to 3D printing and more. Those are generally $45, but everything is sliding scale and full scholarships are available; our main goal right now is to pay our teachers fairly for their time, but also to build up the Maram audience.
All info here: https://www.eventcombo.com/e/fathers-day-weekend-workshops-34891

Saturday June 15

10:00 am – 11:45 am Botanical Cards and Bookmarks with Mary Anne Mohanraj

12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Floral jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Botanical Soap making with Cynthia Borah

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Personal Essay Writing with Deborah Lee

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm    Wet Felted Flowers with Pamela Penny

Sunday June 16

10:00 am – 11:45 am 3D Printing with Kurt Hedlund

10:00 am – 11:45 am Writing Science Fiction that Sells with Alec Navarro Lee

12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Building Bridges with Heath Penney

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Coding Alexa at Home with Kamal Jackson

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm    Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers with Mary Anne Mohanraj

June Events!

Hey, folks — here’s the link with all our upcoming June tea+textile meet-ups (free!), plus productivity retreats ($5) and our Father’s Day workshops (a bit more, but remember that all our events are sliding scale)! Hope you can join us!

Registration now open for Father’s Day Workshops

Father’s Day Maram Makerspace Workshops — ticket sales open!

Make something for the father in your life or sign him up for a fun workshop! We’ve got a wide variety of great hands-on activities scheduled for Father’s Day Weekend.
(You don’t have to be a father to participate, though!)

Saturday June 15
10:00 am – 11:45 am Botanical Cards and Bookmarks
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Floral jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal 
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Botanical Soap making
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Personal Essay Writing
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm Wet Felted Flowers

Sunday June 16
10:00 am – 11:45 am 3D Printing 
10:00 am – 11:45 am Writing Science Fiction that Sells
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Building Bridges
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Coding Alexa at Home
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers

COSTS: All tickets are $45 unless otherwise noted. Need-based scholarships are available; if interested, please request one by emailing admin@marammakerspace.com/ with the subject line: MARAM SCHOLARSHIP.

Maram Makerspace was created with the goal of extending the joy of making throughout our community; generous donations make it possible for us to offer several scholarships for each session. Please don’t hesitate to apply for free or discounted workshops.

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://www.eventcombo.com/e/fathers-day-weekend-workshops-…

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CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Botanical Cards and Bookmarks with Mary Anne Mohanraj

We’ll used pressed flowers from the garden to design and produce laminated bookmarks and delicate botanical greeting cards. Botanical materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own as well – ferns, leaves, pansies, and other fairly flat botanicals work well for this. Press them in a book for a few weeks before the workshop so they’re nice and dry, or speed the process up with a microwave. Ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult. One ticket purchase per adult/child pair).

Flower Power – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

Colored pencils are an easy way to add color to metal. In this workshop, you will learn how to color on metal using Prismacolor pencils, how to blend, how to protect your creations for lasting use, and how to turn your colorful flower drawings into earrings or pendants. Materials are provided. Each participant will create at least one piece of jewelry. Ages 16 and up.

Botanical Soap making with Cynthia Borah

Learn how to make your own soap using the melt and pour process. Students will learn to use natural colorants, essential oils, and botanicals (calendula petals, lavender buds, etc.) to make unique bars of soap for themselves, for friends, or to give away as gifts. Melt and pour soap making is a creative and fun project for all. Ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Personal Essay Writing with Deborah Jian Lee

This workshop will teach the fundamentals of how to find your voice, sharpen your ideas and tell your story through cinematic scenes that keep readers hooked. Geared toward adults.

Wet-felted Flower with Pamela Penney

This workshop offers an opportunity to create a small felted object: wool flower or vessel. Students will learn how to lay out the fibers, wet them down, then add some friction and fun. Through the magic that is actually called “fulling” the fibers will come together and be shaped into the desired object. Each student will go home with their finished object as it is drying in the final shape. Materials will be provided and include the wool roving for one item per student. Additional wool can be purchased from the instructor. Ages 7 & up (children must be accompanied by an adult).

Intro to 3D Printing with TinkerCad with Kurt Hedlund

Get an introduction to 3D printing by interactively learning to design a simple keyfob/keytag/luggagetag using the internet based Tinkercad tool. Follow along with the workshop leader designing your own key tag and create a design file to be 3D printed after the workshop. This class is appropriate for a beginner to 3D printing / design, who is generally computer literate. The class requires a laptop; if you don’t have one and would like to participate, let us know (admin@marammakerspace.com) — some laptops may be available for loan during class. Ages 14 and up.

Writing Science Fiction that Sells with Alec Nevala-Lee

Science fiction offers a thriving audience for short stories, but it can be hard for beginners to break into professional markets, and even established writers can have trouble making consistent sales. We’ll discuss strategies for writing stories that are compelling from the very first page, based on the principles of effective characterization, plot structure, and worldbuilding, with examples drawn from a wide range of authors and publications. Geared towards adults.

Building Bridges – Heath Penney

Get ready to engineer your own structure to get from point A to point B-eyond! Lego, Wooden Blocks and a variety of creative materials will be provided to kids with their adult partner to explore the possibilities that come with creating an architectural span, whether your crossing an imaginary river or a deep ravine. Each pair (child and guardian) will embellish their construction with a fun variety of art materials and take it home at the end of the session. Ages 7 & up (children must be accompanied with an adult). One ticket purchase per adult/child pair.

Coding Alexa with Kamal Jackson

Create an ap for Alexa – no experience needed! We will create a simple game app for Alexa from start to finish, without writing a line of code. An Alexa account is required, and a laptop for class use. (If you don’t have access to a laptop, let us know – we have some available for loan-out during class.) Ages 8 & up can accompany a ticket-holding adult.

Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers with Mary Anne Mohanraj

Learn how to make two different Sri Lankan cocktails using arrack, a bourbon-like liquor made from coconut flowers (recently become available at Whole Foods, Binny’s, etc.), along with two seafood-based appetizers (prawn vadai and mackerel cutlets). (Vegetarian versions can be made if you prefer.) Deep-frying is involved, so come prepared to deal with fire. Adults only. Learn more about Sri Lankan recipes and Mary Anne’s forthcoming cookbook at her cooking blog, Serendib Kitchen: http://serendibkitchen.com

NOTE: Additional fee when you sign up: $10 (good alcohol isn’t cheap)

Drafting the Mission Statement

So, I have to draft this for the Maram makerspace meeting tonight, but I’m also going to do it as a blog post, so let me just draft this here. Let me know if anything’s unclear?

(If you’re local and would like to come to a Maram planning meeting, this would be a good one to attend, as it’s the seasonal reset meeting. 5 – 7 p.m., my place, dinner provided, please RSVP if attending! If you need to show up at 6 because of commute or anything, that’s fine, just let me know.)

*****

Maram Makerspace is a mission-driven Oak Park area project, created to bring together people, knowledge, and tools (physical & digital) to spark inspiration, bridge the gap between the desire and the means to create, and build a collaborative, inclusive, community hub.

We’re particularly interested in offering sliding-scale tuition and scholarships, to extend the joy of making to those who might be otherwise excluded.

Through a combination of workshops and talks, memberships in the makerspace itself, and eventually event space rental, we look forward to funding a long-term sustainable non-profit arts, tech, and writing community. We look forward to building bridges to Austin, Berwyn, Forest Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, Galewood, and other surrounding communities.

*****

a) What happened with the Big Idea? We put together a great presentation, we were finalists, but we didn’t win the $50K, which would’ve guaranteed two years of rent on a space. We did get about $350 in audience vote door prize money, which was nice. We’ll apply again next year!

b) How much money do we need for a space, exactly? It’s about $25K / year for rent on the kind of 1200 square foot space in the areas we want (good foot traffic, good parking, close to public transit, accessible from Austin / Berwyn), which would let us do a solid version of what we’re looking for. There’s a bigger version of the maker space that would let us do a lot more, but it would require raising a lot more money. In addition, there are insurance, etc. costs.

c) How much money do we have on hand? We have $15,000 in pledges from two big donors, plus about $1000 from the Big Idea + tuition on events. We’ve also had various items donated, such as two projectors, a printer, a Cricut, a sewing machine — we even have a line on a lasercutter. We’ve bought some stuff too — a big screen, a 3D printer, a tent for events!

d) Are we renting a space this summer? Maybe. We can put maybe $500-$1000 / a month towards rent on that, if we decide it’s a good idea. There’d also be some costs for insurance, etc.

e) What are the pluses / minuses of renting? The advantage is that we wouldn’t be working out of my living room anymore, and that we could hopefully find a fully-accessible space (I have stairs and pets). We’d also have a base of operations, could sell artisan items out of a storefront, etc. It might make more sense to wait until fall, though — a lot depends on how many active volunteers we have to work on the project over the summer. (This means you?) There’s so much we can do, but it’s all dependent on having enough capacity to do it.

f) How will we raise more money? Through tuition (workshops do bring in money, though it takes time to ramp up programming and publicity), and grants (we need people with time to work on that — no expertise needed; I’d be working with you; it’d be good training for future grant-writing work for anyone interested in development or arts administration).

g) What has Maram been doing so far? Writing workshops, days of making (3D printing, coding, cooking, jewelry, paper dying, gardening, more), creativity / productivity retreats.

g) What are we doing this summer? Presence at What’s Blooming on Harrison and Day in Our Village, more workshops and retreats (upcoming ones include adding board game jam, building jam, botanical arts), six-week writing classes, possibly a one-week summer camp. Maybe a textile arts working group for people learning to knit / crochet / etc., if there’s interest.

h) How are we on infrastructure? In the last months, we’ve put together our website (mostly Amanda Chablani‘s doing) and set up a newsletter, which should help with publicity; we’ve also hired a very part-time PR person who is doing tweets, Instagram, etc. for us. Thanks, Irene!

i) What do we need from volunteers? We need to know who can work on this over the summer:

– we desperately need help with PR. That’s our biggest weakness right now — we can put on great events, but it’s tough to get the word out. We could use volunteers to put together flyers, to print them, to walk them around to different neighborhoods (I’d love to have a point person for each neighborhood, ideally). We could use volunteers who will talk us up in various community forums. Beyond that, we can use people in any of the following

– the core admin team (currently me, Amanda ChablaniPamela PenneyAlix MikesellMeghan O’Shea) should be able to come to a weekly 1.5 hr meeting — we’re meeting weekdays right now, but that can shift if needed to accommodate others

– the space research team would be going to spaces and looking at them (that’s currently me, Pam Whitehead)

– the grantwriting team should start researching other grants and writing applications (that’s currently me, Carollina SongLaura Hsieh)

– the event staffing team should make sure that we have people working the booth at events like What’s Blooming on Harrison and Day in Our Village (that’s currently me, Pamela Penney, and Meghan O’Shea, primarily)

– the fundraising team should start thinking about when we’ll be ready to offer memberships / if we want to run a Kickstarter, etc. (that’s mostly me right now.) 🙂

j) Can people give us money now? Yes! 🙂 And if you’re in the U.S., it’s tax-deductible. 🙂

k) Finally, do we have a logo? Possibly. Check back soon. 🙂

*****

Okay, so that’s the draft. What questions did I not answer yet?

Narrowing down workshop list for summer

Folks, I need to figure out my summer schedule, and part of that is deciding what classes or workshops I might teach for Maram. Can I poll you? I’ll figure out pricing once I know what I’m doing, but per usual, figure roughly $25 / class, with sliding-scale and scholarships available. $5 for the retreats!

Please select all you’d potentially take — I won’t be teaching ALL of these, and this will help me narrow it down. 🙂

*****

WRITING:

1) Creative Writing Camp – kids 6th – 12th grade (one week, mornings)

2) Speculative Fiction Worldbuilding (one Saturday afternoon)

3) Writing Speculative Fiction Class (six weekday evenings)

GAMES:

4) Board Game Jam – mixed age (little kids ages 5- 10 free, but each little kid must be accompanied by an adult who is registered) (one Saturday afternoon)

5) Board Game Jam Camp – kids 8-16 (one week, afternoons)

6) Creativity / Productivity Retreat (10 – 4, weekday)

7) Creativity / Productivity Retreat (10 – 4, weekend)

COOKING:

8) Sri Lankan Cooking Workshop (one weekend afternoon)

9) Sri Lankan Cooking Class (six weekend afternoons)

GARDEN:

10) Botanical Art Workshops (soap-making, bookmarks, jewelry, pressed flower cards (one weekend day, can sign up for individual workshops or whole day)

Day of Art and Cooking, last chance to register!

Hey, folks — we have just a few spots left for tomorrow’s Day of Cooking and Art. Register now, please, if you plan to attend! We’ll be closing registration this evening, so the instructors have a little time to plan. (Also, most of the classes are almost full!)

10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.: Sourdough Bread Workshop with Lali Puig Abril and Petia Kostadinova

12:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Nepali Cooking Class with Ajapa Sharma

2:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Orizomegami (paper folding and dying) with Pamela Martinez

4:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.: Jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

All classes are $45, but are sliding scale — just let us know if a discount would be helpful. Part of our mission is giving people the opportunity to learn to make things, and we have scholarship funds available to help with costs!
(Registration link in comments.)

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CLASS DESCRIPTION:

10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.: Sourdough Bread Workshop with Eulàlia Puig and Petia Kostadinova

Learn how to make sourdough bread two different ways. Participants will learn how to maintain a starter at home, and how to use it for breads, ranging from simple to more sophisticated, as well as other baked goods. We will demonstrate some of the steps and partake in kneading and shaping dough. Participants will receive active sourdough starter to make their own bread, dough to cook a small loaf of bread at home, and recipes recommended by the instructors. Participants will sample bread made by the instructors. No previous experience required.

12:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Nepali Cooking Class with Ajapa Sharma

Learn to make scrumptious momos (South Asian dumplings) with a tangy tomato dip! Drawing on the long connections with Tibetans, Newari merchants of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal improvised to make their own distinctly spiced meat filled dumplings called momo. Momo is now a traditional delicacy in Nepal, served with a sauce (achaar) made with tomato.

Participants will learn to make the chicken-based filling for the momo. They will also learn to fill and fold readymade wonton wrappers into boat shaped dumplings. Participants will learn to make the accompanying sauce (achaar) for the momo. Materials will be provided. At the end of the workshop participants will have taste their own handmade momos. They will take home recipes to make momos for friends and family.

2:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Orizomegami (paper folding and dying) with Pamela Martinez

Absorbent paper is folded and then dyed to produce interesting geometric patterns when the paper is unfolded, as practiced in Japan and around the world for centuries. Zen-like in its folding, the ancient technique reminds us to be present in the moment.

This exciting 1.75 hour workshop will introduce 4 basic paper folds. We will then experiment with nontoxic dye solutions resulting in beautiful papers that can be used for future art projects, gift wrapping, card making, envelope lining, or book binding. All supplies included.

4:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.: Jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

Make your own colorful unique jewelry! Colored pencils are an easy way to add color to metal. In this workshop, you will learn how to color on copper using Prismacolor pencils, how to blend, how to protect your creations for lasting use, and how to turn your small artworks into earrings or pendants.

Materials are provided. Each participant will create at least one piece of jewelry. This class will offer 4 free seats as a donation from the instructor in support of Maram. Please feel free to contact us at admin@marammakerspace.com for free access to this class

Upcoming Day of Making: Art and Cooking

Hey, locals — we’re gearing up for another Maram Day of Making on Sunday, May 5 — this time with some cool cooking workshops (for example, grad student Ajapa Sharma‘s going to offer a Nepali cooking class before she heads home to Nepal for the summer!) and fascinating art. Take a look! (Please share and forward!)

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Sourdough Bread Workshop with Eulàlia Puig and Petia Kostadinova

Learn how to make sourdough bread two different ways. Participants will learn how to maintain a starter at home, and how to use it for breads, ranging from simple to more sophisticated, as well as other baked goods. We will demonstrate some of the steps and partake in kneading and shaping dough. Participants will receive active sourdough starter to make their own bread, dough to cook a small loaf of bread at home, and recipes recommended by the instructors.

Participants will sample bread made by the instructors. No previous experience required.

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Nepali Cooking Class with Ajapa Sharma

Learn to make scrumptious momos (South Asian dumplings) with a tangy tomato dip! Drawing on the long connections with Tibetans, Newari merchants of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal improvised to make their own distinctly spiced meat filled dumplings called momo. Momo is now a traditional delicacy in Nepal, served with a sauce (achaar) made with tomato.

Participants will learn to make the chicken-based filling for the momo. They will also learn to fill and fold readymade wonton wrappers into boat shaped dumplings. Participants will learn to make the accompanying sauce (achaar) for the momo. Materials will be provided. At the end of the workshop participants will have taste their own handmade momos. They will take home recipes to make momos for friends and family.

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Orizomegami (paper folding and dying) with Pamela Martinez

Absorbent paper is folded and then dyed to produce interesting geometric patterns when the paper is unfolded, as practiced in Japan and around the world for centuries. Zen-like in its folding, the ancient technique reminds us to be present in the moment.

This exciting 1.5 hour workshop will introduce 4 basic paper folds. We will then experiment with nontoxic dye solutions resulting in beautiful papers that can be used for future art projects, gift wrapping, card making, envelope lining, or book binding. All supplies included.

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.: Jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

Make your own colorful unique jewelry! Colored pencils are an easy way to add color to metal. In this workshop, you will learn how to color on copper using Prismacolor pencils, how to blend, how to protect your creations for lasting use, and how to turn your small artworks into earrings or pendants.

Materials are provided. Each participant will create at least one piece of jewelry. This class will offer 4 free seats as a donation from the instructor in support of Maram. Please feel free to contact us at admin@marammakerspace.com for free access to this class.

*****

Fifty percent of each ticket fee goes towards building a new community arts organization – Maram Makerspace.

Our short-term goal, securing a permanent accessible physical space, will move us closer to offering more partnerships with existing artisans and more workshops and classes for the general public. Donations are also gratefully accepted; Maram Makerspace is sponsored by the Speculative Literature Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Please visit http://marammakerspace.com/ for more information about us.

Tickets here: https://www.eventcombo.com/e/day-of-cooking-and-art-34627…

Creativity/productivity retreat today

Another creativity / productivity retreat here today. I’m planning to mostly work on the cookbook (which means I’ll be cooking some Sri Lankan food this morning to photograph and will serve it at lunch), possibly interspersed with a little gardening (getting in the dahlias and such in the backyard). I promised the layout person the book today, come hell or high water — I need to finish the photos, add a colophon page, and then I think we’re good to go? Eep.

I know Janea is coming by around 10; not sure if anyone else is, because given this weekend’s events, advertising this kind of fell off my radar, but that’s okay. The nice thing about hosting these is that it helps keep me focused on my own work, whether or not anyone else shows up.

I do have to note, though, that we are inexplicably out of coffee, which is unacceptable; I may need to run out and pick some up. So if you arrive and I’m not here, just let yourself in — I’ll be back in 20!