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