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Archive for the ‘Making & Manufacturing’ Category

Free creative resource for families to reduce household waste

To coincide with Global Recycling Day, KWMC The Factory has released a free, family-friendly magazine filled with stories and advice for reducing household waste – and getting creative while you do it.

The magazine includes a range of tutorials, activities and puzzles inspired by The Factory’s recent project ReThink ReMake ReCycle, where residents of South Bristol came together to explore the scale and environmental impact of common household waste materials such as paper and plastics.

Working with The Factory team and designer Lisa Cole, 48 people across 22 households took part in a series of online workshops to look more closely at the kind of materials they threw away, and how they could design and make sustainable alternatives.

The sessions focused on three themes:

ReThink: think carefully about how we can reduce or repurpose our waste

ReMake: make DIY alternatives that are reusable or use more sustainable materials

ReCycle: recycle our waste, turning it into useful materials and objects


Read or download the magazine

You can read the zine or download a copy to your computer here: ReThink ReMake ReCycle Zine

Don’t worry if you don’t have a printer: the magazine has been saved as an interactive document so you can download a copy, click on the framed boxes and type your notes directly into the document.

You can find out more about the ReThink ReMake ReCycle project here or contact of you have any questions or would like to talk to us about our work in sustainable manufacturing.

Global Recycling Day

KWMC The Factory published the magazine to coincide with Global Recycling Day on Thursday 18 March – an annual event created in 2018 by The Global Recycling Foundation to ‘help recognise, and celebrate, the importance recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and securing the future of our planet.’

The theme of Global Recycling Day 2021 is #RecyclingHeroes, which will recognise ‘the people, places and activities that showcase what an important role recycling plays in contributing to an environmentally stable planet and a greener future which will benefit all.’


ReThink ReMake ReCycle was part of the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Inclusion Programme and ParCos, an EU funded project exploring how we communicate and understand science stories.

Bristol +Bath Creative R+D logo.    ParCos and EU logo

Factory manufactures new public artwork for Gloucester

During COVID-19 lockdown, the team at KWMC The Factory worked with artist Luke Jerram to manufacture the pieces of a new public artwork that is currently on display across Gloucester.

‘Of Earth and Sky’ is a large-scale poetry installation: excerpts from poems have been painted and installed in 31 parks and public places across the city for people to discover. Poems were submitted by Gloucestershire residents following a call-out to the public and a series of workshops, and the poems on display were selected by local poet JPDL and Luke Jerram.

The Of Earth and Sky project website explains: “the poetry and text respond to the city, the climate emergency and the impact that COVID-19 has had on us all as individuals and on our view of the planet. We hope the words are hopeful, embedding a sense of pride and ownership of the area. After an unprecedented period of lockdown and social distancing, it feels more important now than ever to have creativity in our lives.”

Using our CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine, Factory technicians cut nearly 300 pieces for the installation.

This included 56 1m stencils and 158 50cm stencils in birch plywood – a full alphabet of upper case and lower-case letters and punctuation marks – and 74 letters (and one comma!) from 18mm Marine Ply. These large 1.2m letters were then sanded and painted white.

The stencils have been used to paint temporary poetry onto grass while the large letters have been arranged to form five freestanding phrases.


The Factory team were assisted by Factory member Emily Trott, a graduate of last year’s Making It course and an experienced set builder.

Factory Technician Chris Ingram commented, “it’s been great to work with Luke Jerram and his team. These letters and stencils were the first large fabrication project we undertook at The Factory after technicians were able to return to the workshops following COVID-19 lockdown. We’re glad we’ve been able to put our new CNC router to work in a project that encourages people to explore our city spaces and the natural world, and celebrates the creativity of people in the region.”

Of Earth and Sky is on display across Gloucester from 24 August – 1 November 2020. For more information visit the Of Earth and Sky website.

For more information about CNC cutting or commissioning The Factory please e-mail or call on 0117 403 2306.

Images: Of Earth and Sky

Coming Soon at KWMC The Factory: ReThink, ReMake, ReCycle

ReThink ReMake ReCycle

As part of the Bristol and Bath Creative R&D Inclusion Programme, The Factory will be investigating the scale and impact, both locally and globally, of common household waste materials such as paper and plastics. Together with our Factory community and local residents of South Bristol, we’ll be unpicking the data behind what we waste, and following a process of creative ‘Design Thinking’, prototyping and making utilising digital tools to co-design and test out sustainable solutions and alternatives.

As a response to the ongoing pandemic, we have shifted the way in which this activity will be delivered and have already piloted a virtual ‘Design Thinking’ workshop back in April 2020 facilitated by collaborative and sustainable designer Lisa Cole.

The updated ReThink, ReMake, ReCycle series will now combine digital and physical workshop elements through a series of virtual meet ups, instructional videos and webinars, and at-home family friendly activity packs. Participants of all ages will complete household waste audits for our community generated data sets, gain a deeper understanding of the materials we use on a daily basis, and develop ideas and skills through the exploration of new and recycled materials. We’ll introduce tools such as plastic shredders and sheet presses, laser cutters and digital embroidery machines to inspire and push this exploration further, and encourage ongoing sharing and connection across our online platforms.

This activity will contribute to KWMC The Factory’s commitment to developing sustainable practices across our physical and digital spaces, focusing on circular economy principles and encouraging responsible, thoughtful digital design and making approaches. It will also act as a test bed for future exploration of data and digital technologies in the context of community-engaged digital placemaking.

Watch this space for upcoming workshop dates and how to sign up. To register your interest please email or call The Factory on 0117 403 2306.

Rethink, Remake, Recycle is funded by Bristol+Bath Creative R+D part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme managed by the Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of the Industrial Strategy

Bristol +Bath Creative R+D logo

Exploring new ways to build shared spaces

Knowle West residents have been busy during COVID-19 lockdown, learning to use new digital design and construction tools. 

The result is “Block West”, a temporary pavilion that showcases adaptable building systems and people-friendly technology that can help communities collaborate to create the spaces, homes, and places they need. 

Block West is made from a modular building system – called Block Type A – designed by Automated Architecture Labs (AUAR), a research laboratory based at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Block Type A uses a fixed set of Lego-like lightweight plywood building blocks that can be reconfigured into different designs over time without the need for specialised tools or expertise.

Block West was designed by local residents using a new design app developed by AUAR, following a series of online workshops during lockdown. The parts were manufactured in KWMC The Factory using our CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine, and a crew of local people assembled the blocks into the pavilion in under 10 days in September 2020. 


Block West will be in the grounds of Knowle West Media Centre for one month and is open to the public for booked visits, in line with COVID-19 safety rules.

The pavilion will then be broken down into its constituent blocks and re-assembled into benches, planters, and a stage which will be distributed across the neighbourhood of Knowle West for community use. 


Making Together

The Block West Pavilion is part of the Making Together project, which is a collaboration between AUAR, KWMC and We Can Make Knowle West. Ten Knowle West residents aged 18 to 76 took part in online Making Together workshops over four months between April and July 2020 to learn digital construction skills and experiment with new tech and tools. The workshops were originally planned to be face-to-face but were adapted to be held online because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

By mixing technology, design, construction and community know-how, Making Together aims to support communities to build new skills so they can influence the creation of homes, workspaces and shared spaces in their area. 

Learning from Making Together and the development of Block West is already being applied to We Can Make, which is using Modern Methods of Construction to design homes for micro-sites. Earlier this year, We Can Make submitted plans for the first two homes – designed by architects and families working together. Should planning permission be granted, construction will begin this Autumn.


Melissa Mean, Director of We Can Make Knowle West at Knowle West Media Centre, explains:

“Block West shows what is possible when digital design and fabrication technologies aren’t just controlled by the big developers and instead put into the hands of communities. Empowering communities with the skills and tools to build the homes, spaces and places they need is more important than ever as our hardest-hit communities try to recover from the impact of COVID-19. We can only build better if we build with communities.”  

Mollie Claypool, Co-Director of Automated Architecture Labs (AUAR) adds:

We are breaking down the barriers of privilege, money and power in the housing system by creating opportunities for communities to get hands-on with new forms of architecture and housing. This is a test space for taking a values-centered approach to collaboration with local communities using modular methods of construction and democratising technology so communities are empowered to create the homes they need better and faster.”

John Bennett, Knowle West resident and member of the Block West crew comments:

“It has been amazing to be involved with every stage of this project – from using the design app on Zoom to learning to cut the parts in KWMC The Factory to being onsite making the pavilion. I’ve never done or seen anything like this in my life. I can’t wait to do it again – we could do so much for the community: building homes, workspaces, all sorts… I’m proud to be part of Block West.”

Get Involved

Looking for an outdoor space to have a creative or community meeting? The Block West pavilion is available to book for free for a morning (10-1pm) or afternoon (2-5pm) slot on the following dates:

Thursday 24 September
Thursday 1 October
Thursday 8 October

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Block West is open to the public for booked visits only, with a maximum of six people in the space at any one time. You can book a visit online or by calling KWMC on 0117 903 0444.


Making Together is supported by The Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) which is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Construction of Block West was completed by a team of 27 people aged 12 to 76 over 10 days, led by Bartlett Lecturer Mollie Claypool, Bartlett Senior Research Fellow Dr Claire McAndrew and KWMC’s Melissa Mean, with engineering provided by Manja van der Worp and Yoav Caspi of YIP Engineering.

Images by Ibolya Feher
Film by Hatty Bell

The Factory offers enterprise support through new programme

We’re excited to be a partner in a new enterprise support service for South Bristol that launched at the end of July 2020.

South Bristol Enterprise Support (SBES) is designed to help residents of South Bristol who are looking to start a business and existing businesses that are looking to grow.

Support will be offered by a partnership of organisations with a range of expertise, including business training and mentoring, supporting young people in enterprise, and digital manufacturing.

SBES will support any sector of business but will include specialist advice for construction, digital and food businesses. It will also provide specific support for young people, social entrepreneurs and women.

Opportunities available through SBES include pre-start up training, bursaries, access to workshops and digital manufacturing technologies, support with product development, grants, business coaching, and more.

Our programme

KWMC The Factory‘s activity will begin in October 2020. Our team will offer a programme of support, training and development for future small business owners who want to learn new skills and access digital manufacturing tools and technologies.

The Factory’s programme will be designed for mixed abilities and no experience of digital manufacturing or creative design is required. However, we ask that all applicants have the desire and commitment to learn digital manufacturing processes, from 3D printing to laser cutting, which are envisaged to play a key role in the formation of their future business.

Penny Evans, Strategic Lead for Knowle West Media Centre, The Factory, explains: “We’ve been based in South Bristol for many years and we know that there is talent and creativity in abundance here – but many people haven’t had the opportunities or support to realise their ideas. We’re looking forward to supporting people who want to become part of a growing community of maker businesses in South Bristol.”

More information about The Factory’s programme will be available soon. For further details about SBES visit

About SBES

Bristol City Council is leading the partnership which will deliver SBES, which also includes Knowle West Media Centre, The Princes Trust, School for Social Entrepreneurs, and YTKO Ltd.

SBES is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “We’re really pleased to be launching the South Bristol Enterprise Support service with our partners to give entrepreneurial activity in South Bristol a boost, particularly during this difficult time. Working collaboratively with key city partners is going to be vital to the recovery of Bristol, and SBES will help to help people from all walks of life who have brilliant ideas to turn them into thriving businesses. I would encourage anyone in the area who wants to become part of a growing community of local businesses to apply.”

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “A creative spark or a new idea can come to any of us at any time, but no-matter what your age or background, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help to turn that idea into a business. That’s what South Bristol Enterprise Support is designed for. It gives tailored support to help people strike out on their own and seize the opportunity to turn that into a thriving business. SBES will form part of the expanded regional Growth Hub support to help businesses through Covid-19 and I’m thrilled to see it launch with support from the West of England Combined Authority.”

The Factory counts down to Sustainability Month

This April, to coincide with Earth Day, we’re running a special programme of workshops, talks and hands-on sessions at KWMC: The Factory, exploring how we can reduce our impact on the environment while we make useful and beautiful things.

Activities include using digital manufacturing technologies and traditional craft techniques to transform waste into new things, creating your own laser cut woodblocks for fabric printing and upcycling, and a talks programme with creatives who are experimenting with sustainable practices.

Read on to see what’s coming up and how you can get involved:

Alternative Materials

Use creative techniques to turn your household waste into new things!

Join us for series of two workshops and:

  • Discover the impact of common household waste materials
  • Find out how much you waste and what you can do to reduce this
  • Explore how to make DIY alternatives

ReThink, ReMake, ReCycle: Paper
Tuesday 7 April
10am – 2pm

Paper towels and tissues are usually made from recycled paper, which can’t be recycled again. Join us on 7th April to design and make your own reusable fabric alternatives. No sewing skills required!

ReThink, ReMake, ReCycle: Plastics
Tuesday 14 April
10am – 2pm

Single use plastic and its impact on the environment is a rapidly growing issue, with exported recycling waste being turned away and floating islands of plastic rubbish developing in our oceans. Join us on 14th April to learning about how to turn single-use plastic into new materials and create new ‘bioplastics’ using household food waste.

Workshops are free and suitable for ages 7+ (under 16s must be supervised by an adult).

Book your place via Eventbrite:


Upcycling Fabrics

Experiment with different ways to upcycle old clothing and re-use scrap fabrics

Sustainable Sewing & Textiles
Friday 3 April
10am – 12pm

An environmental twist on our monthly meet-up: make scrunchies from scrap fabrics and upcycle old clothing. FREE for Factory members / £3 for non-members | No need to book!

Upcycling with Laser Cut Woodblocks
Saturday 25 April
10am – 12pm

Learn how to design and make laser cut woodblocks for printing onto paper and fabrics in this four-hour Saturday workshop.

During the session you’ll learn how to use the vector design software Inkscape to create digital designs to be laser cut into wood. You’ll then have the chance to get upcycling and transform your pre-loved garments and fabric offcuts with woodblock prints of your own designs. 

£55. Visit our shop to book your place.


Get Inspired

Hear from designers and makers experimenting with sustainable creative practices

INSPIRE Talk: PositiveNegativePositive
with Walter Jack Studio
Wednesday 1 April

Walter Jack Studio will be introducing their project PositiveNegativePositive, a collaboration with KWMC The Factory, offering the opportunity for a group of local makers to be involved in a major public art commission. These makers will learn 2D design skills and develop designs for their own product(s) to be batch laser cut into brass sheet, with the leftover material featuring the negative space of these products forming panels for a large-scale façade on Hengrove Energy Centre, ensuring no section of the material is wasted.

INSPIRE Talk: Designing Away Litter
with Lisa Cole
Wednesday 22 April (Earth Day 2020)

Ethical designer, maker and teacher Lisa Cole’s talk will centre on sustainability, focusing on her human-centred design approach to a collaborative project with Up Our Street ‘Show Stapleton Road Some Love’, aimed at addressing the issues of litter and fly tipping in her local area.

INSPIRE talks are FREE for Factory members / £3 for non-members
RSVP to 0117 403 2306 or

For more info about the Sustainability Month at KWMC: The Factory, please contact

Sustainability Month at KWMC The Factory

‘It’s like we’ve been through wizard school’

– so said one of the makers on our Making It course, when asked about her experience.

On Thursday 26 July – the hottest day of 2019 so far – we held a special event at KWMC: The Factory to celebrate and showcase the work of the 11 makers who have been part of Making It since May 2019.

Over 50 people visited The Factory to meet the makers and discover how they’ve applied digital manufacturing technologies to a range of fields – from model making and construction to fashion and furniture.

Their work includes delicate laser-cut chocolate boxes, a chest of drawers made from nearly 150 pieces of wood, and an interactive book that incorporates lights, sensors and Augmented Reality.

Making It is part of Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (WIDJET) – a West of England Combined Authority project, funded by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.


Meet the Makers

Hannah created an interactive learning clock with a nautical theme: children can pull out the octopus’ arms as and learn how to tell the time.

“I was confident with computers at the start, but I’ve learnt so much more. I now have a good grounding to do more projects and I’ve worked out I can do self- led learning. I’ve spent a lot of time suppressing my creativity. But I learnt to explore my ideas and giving myself permission to do that.”


Ingrid explored how to use laser-cutting and CNC cutting for printmaking purposes. She took rubbings from the bed of the Factory’s CNC router to create a range of abstract designs.

“I have learnt that I’m actually more comfortable with the software than I thought I’d be. Seeing that I could laser-cut textiles, engrave on fabric and make the stamps opened up new avenues. I can now use the software as a tool to aid my work without losing the handmade edge.”


Steph drew on her experience of making installations for festivals and events to produce a large moving sculpture: visitors could watch a caterpillar eat its way through the apple as it rotates.

“It surprised me how accessible the software was to use – it was a simple introduction into something I can do at home. As a self-employed artist, this will open doors for future work.”



Charlotte used Sketchup software to design a camper-van conversion for a VW van, including a flatpack, flexible bed and storage system.

“I wanted to do the course to try and advance where I am professionally – I needed digital technologies to keep up in my industry. I am now already using what I’ve learnt in my freelance work – I can now take on work that I wasn’t able to before.”


Emily also used Sketchup and has created a large hexagonal light-box for designers and makers to use in their studios. It includes colour-changing lights and has an integrated cutting mat.

“This is what I’ve always wanted, but this course has made it more possible. I can now look at something and have a good understanding of how it was made.”


Alfie designed a chest of drawers using 2D design software – putting together 142 individual pieces of wood and hand-painting the drawers to create a truly unique piece.

“I didn’t realise I could accomplish something so big with such a small amount of experience. In a perfect world I would become a freelance illustrator/designer. In September, I’m going back to college to start my journey towards this.”



Nikki made a laptop-inspired chair using 2D and 3D design software and a range of techniques including vinyl cutting, heat pressing and CNC cutting.

“I wasn’t sure this was for me but I persevered and I’m glad I have. I’ve learnt that a lot of ideas I have I could actually put into practice. My biggest achievement has been regaining my confidence.”


Becky developed an interactive story book inspired by Norse mythology, which combines traditional craft skills and new technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR).

“I always thought things like Arduino would take years to learn and this was out of my reach. I’ve had these doors opened now and seen how everyone else is also still learning. Everyone on the course has been so encouraging and facilitating to make the project a reality.” 


Kathryn crafted a collection of custom gift boxes for her homemade natural chocolate business. She utilised a technique called a ‘living hinge’ to make circular 3D boxes using the laser-cutter and 2D design software.

“I want to carry on making designs and using these techniques for my products – both for the packaging and for stalls. I’m one step closer to making my business a reality and opened it up to a whole new market as well.”



Bella drew on a range of inspirations including Bristol graffiti, kitsch postcards and vintage fabrics to create a range of clothing and accessories that combine digital fabrication techniques with traditional fashion design.

“My biggest achievement has been translating paper designs into physical products using digital design and the kit here. I’ve learned to keep going with what I’m doing and be more confident about my work and what I can achieve.”


Anika designed an interactive puzzle and engraved fabric piece inspired by Ilish/Hilsa – the national fish of Bangladesh. Her project explores conservation and the effects of climate change in Bangladesh.

“I like to make things people can interact with – I like people to share an experience. I now know how to use 2D design software and how to utilise things like SketchUp for 3D design, which requires a different mindset to what I’m used to.”


Making It

Making It is part of the Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (WIDJET) project, which is led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and aims to support women to find jobs in digital roles and address the under-representation of women in the digital sector.

The Making It group came to The Factory from all corners of Bristol: from Withywood, Ashton and Knowle West to Hanham, Easton and beyond. Over three months, the group learned a range of skills including how to use digital design software, follow a design process, and use digital manufacturing technologies and machinery such as laser cutters, digital embroidery machines and 3D printers.

These structured training sessions were followed by open access days where they put their new skills into practice as they designed and implemented a creative project of their choice.

The group also had the opportunity to take part in specialist workshops providing introductions to disciplines including Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, coding and puppetry.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles visited The Factory in June 2019 and returned to see what the group had produced at the showcase event.

He said: “It was great to see how our WIDJET project is supporting everyone on this course to improve their skills and improve their career prospects. One of my ambitions as Regional Mayor is to improve job opportunities for our residents. I’m also working hard to ensure that businesses in the West of England have a pool of talent to recruit from, particularly in key areas such as digital and tech.”

What’s next?

The Making It group will be able to access regular open access sessions at The Factory from September 2019. It’s been a privilege to join this group on their journeys and we can’t wait to see what they make next…

In September 2019 we’ll also be launching a new Membership Scheme for KWMC: The Factory. Beginning at just £5 a month, benefits will include access to our digital fabrication equipment, wood workshop and prototyping lab, and a programme of members’ events.

You can fill in this online form to be kept up to date with Membership at The Factory or call 0117 403 2306 to find out more about how you can join our rapidly expanding creative community.

Photography by Ibolya Feher.

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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