Category Archives: Instructables

“Artist in Residence” at Instructables HQ, San Francisco

This is an edited version of a post I wrote for the Instructables forum after spending 2 months at their HQ.

Thursday saw the end of two of the most fun filled months of my life. Since the beginning of February I’ve been an artist in residence at Instructables’ office in San Francisco.

First impressions? The office was unlike any I’d ever visited or heard of. An open plan 2nd floor office above a deli and a night club on 2nd street, Instructables’ headquarters is home to a team of 25 young and enthusiastic staff. It’s not like your average software company either, no desk is the same and each is covered in or surrounded by a mix of complete and incomplete projects, or is in itself a project.

Those above mentioned staff are all friendly. The office has the same tight knit community feeling that I have felt part of as a non-staff member using the site.

As an artist in residence I was given no direction other than to be creative and pursue and finish projects that interested me. The environment was hugely beneficial as a maker. At home I feel that I have to explain why I want to make something. “But you can buy that!” I am often told. At Instructables I was surrounded by people who understand that making is a passion, that it’s important and ideas quickly develop and grow as enthusiastic friends chime in with over the top but all too often adopted suggestions to improve projects in progress or create new projects. There doesn’t need to be a reason to create something to amuse, educate or just show off.

While in residence I worked on a bubble machine, a giant chess set to play in Eric and Christy’s kitchen, an improved laser cut jenga pistol, a cupcake decorating stencil, several educational instructables as well as writing Perl to simplify several tedious admin tasks performed by the editors.

My most used tool was the laser cutter. If I had to choose a favourite new skill that I learned, I’d be hard pressed to choose between the skills I developed with a DSLR and lighting, and how to drive a forklift. The best piece of insider information I picked up…. I know who the next artist in residence will be!

Given a chance, I’ll definitely be back. I love the staff, I love the city and the nearby climbing is exceptional!

Instructable: Ninjabread Men!

I had to have a go at making some some ninjabread men cookie cutters after seeing them on epicwinftw.com. I used 0.5mm mirror polished stainless steel strips and an acrylic template. Would be a great method for making loads of other custom shaped cookie cutters! The instructable I wrote shows you how…

Toast Stencils

Last week I published my Toast Stencils instructable as my entry into the DadCanDo contest. After it got featured I challenged the Instructables community to have a go and post pictures of their attempts in order to win a 3 month pro membership.

Here’s mine:

toast_stencils

And one by Instructables member Creativeman:

Thanks C’man! I’ll update here if I get any more entries.

Total Views 2nd Run

I ran the total views script for the second time today. The Top Trumps collaboration I did with gmjhowe and some others pushed my total past 150k total views.

While on the subject, the Top Trumps ‘ible has now had 20 sales. We’re going with a print run of 50 tomorrow to raise some money to pay for some awesome projects to have on our stall at Maker Faire in 2011. Selling 50 packs should net us about £50 to spend on printing instructions and buying some supplies.

Instructables Total Views Group

Back in November I started playing with using Perl to scrape data from Instructables.com. I saw lots of information that was scattered around that would be useful to members of the site if made available to the. One of the first scripts I developed was one to visit all the instructables of a user and tally up the views of each to give a total. I asked users to subscribe to me and in return I ran the script on them (link), showing them how many total views they had.

In the latest incarnation of this script I created a group for people to join. The new script, run on the 1st and 15th of every month reads the members from the group and scrapes the data from their instructables for each, dumping it into a .TSV file. Twice a month I will be running this script and handing out the following cartoons by Caitlinsdad as patches as people pass the 50k, 100k, 250k, 500k and 1m views marks.

Tomorrow (1st June) will be only the second time it’s been run so we’ll get to see some interesting stats on who’s count has grown the most.