What is it that makes some of us makers?
While I’m not about to jump into the argument of nature vs. nurture, I am going to share a little story about my beginnings as a maker. This story was recently drug from the deepest recesses of my memory, when I happened upon a light bulb, literally. We’re not talking about the iconic light bulb with dashed lines haloed around it as if to say “aha!” I seriously mean a light bulb. Little, red light bulb circa 1960.
I recently inherited an old tool chest from my grandfather. More than anything else, I wanted some of his old tools. He was a high school shop teacher, woodworker, and maker extraordinaire. As a child, I’d go to his house afterschool and work with him on projects. So, his tools seemed to represent a connection between us.
My husband unloaded the tool chest from his truck as I cooked dinner, and he asked if he could rummage through. He found that the tool chest was basically loaded with a random assortment of hand tools…oodles of wrenches, screwdrivers, and occasionally a brand spanking new item, still in its original packaging from several decades ago. When I finished up what I was doing, I went over to the tool chest, and as I approached it I thought to myself, “I wish I’d find something from a project that I remember.” I actually had a specific project in mind, but quickly tossed the thought aside as it seemed a bit unlikely, and maybe even a bit greedy.
Two drawers were open, one obscuring the other. I looked through the first drawer; hammer, sockets, some old pencils. As I closed this drawer, revealing the contents of the drawer below, there underneath several large pipe wrenches was a partial package of shiny, red, oddly shaped light bulbs. This was exactly what I was hoping to find.
The brilliant little bulbs in question were from a 3rd grade project on electricity. My grandfather and I made a battery powered Christmas tree, and used these bulbs to light it. I got an A.
Projects like these were my first real experiences in making things. I had forgotten how much they meant to me, how much they taught me, and how much they still inform how I make things today. Now, my little red light bulb sits in my office and oversees all designs that flash across my monitor.
Once the passion for making things is kindled, keep those fires burning. Make.