For this project, I decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone and dive into a project I had seen created on YouTube using Epoxy resin and solid wood. The challenges in this project were the wood cutting, utilizing the router table, and pouring the Epoxy resin. I had never used wood stain or finish before, but this turned out amazing and brought out the natural grain of the wood. The Epoxy resin did give me some trouble from the hole that I thought I had filled with hot glue, some of the resin leaked through, making it uneven, but I luckily caught it and put a tissue to under the hole to fill the gap.
My first learning goal was to learn the basics of woodworking. I stated this as my goal because I could always envision myself learning how to use a Laith and I gained a lot of interest in this while seeing on Instagram all the fantastic things that I could create using wood and epoxy resin. I definitely learned a ton about how to use a router, a circular saw and the basics of sanding and finishing woodwork throughout this process. My goal was to get hands-on with cutting the wood myself, and Brandon and Neil helped me accomplish this using the Fab Lab equipment. I originally was going to utilize the CNC machine to bore out the channel for the neopixels, creating a design using Autodesk, but Brandon suggested we use the router table because it was faster and more efficient. From that point, it was all about using wood glue and clamps to get the base together, and then using a drill and bore bits that would allow for me to place the Neodymium magnets where they needed to be to support the structure of the light.
My next learning goal was to use Epoxy resin for the first time. From the beginning, I thought this would be sort of dangerous because of all the warnings on the professional-grade epoxy. I learned from many YouTube videos that utilized this resin that all you need to do is make sure that the area you are pouring is well ventilated and you are wearing a mask. Once I did this, I had no problems pouring it inside, and it turned out way better than I thought. I also utilized an opaque resin color to make the entire light look like it was a solid color, white throughout, and the whole piece turned out fantastic.
My third learning goal as I revised my original was to be diligent in completing the project on time and not to let little imperfections set me back. I accomplished this in many ways, but from the beginning, I set myself on a schedule. I decided that I needed to get all the pieces cut out and finished two weeks before the final presentation date, to which I accomplished before that deadline. From that point, I made sure to go through and test my electrical components and the application for controlling them over and over on my phone to make sure there were no problems with Bluetooth connectivity and that my micro-USB charger was functioning correctly. I made some mistakes along the way, like initially not placing the cut out for the charger on the bottom end of the box, which forced me to change the configuration on the inside to one that didn’t utilize the space most efficiently. Still, I am happy that I made this mistake and made it a part of my project. Overcoming my OCD in this project was the hardest part because its easy to see errors at the end of the maker, but in the end, I am so happy that it turned out to be attractive design, and for my first woodworking project I am incredibly proud of the result.
Throughout this entire endeavor of learning in the maker space, I have surprised myself over and over again from the beginning to the end of this semester. My personal opinion going into this course was that my technical background and analytical side would be all I needed to succeed in the class. As I learned early on, this is not just enough to be successful in the class and that I needed something more to push me forward. As I progressed in this class, I think the central aspect of my ability to create was doing things that I enjoyed as opposed to just meeting the criteria of the assignments. In the sewing section I realized how fun it was to change the stitching patterns on the machines and even though I was basically finished with my plushie early on, before I stitched it all together I went over all the stitches again just for fun in a different pattern to make it stronger I thought. Another example was the Arduino unit and the pom bot creation. I thought it would be awesome to make a little housing for the unit and spent so much time enjoying doing that that I actually neglected the design part of it and learned that I must keep a balance between enjoyment and fulfilling the project criteria. Once I found this balance I really got into the groove and looked forward to continuing my project ideation and execution much more.
I believe the course has propelled me to find what exactly I want to do later in my life. As many of my friends have told me from showing them what I made in this class throughout the semester, I definitely should pursue a career in building. I find that to be something I have been thinking about a lot recently, If I want to go the traditional route in finding a 9-5 job outside of school or if I want to open a woodworking shop or be a tinkerer in my daily life. I see myself being a maker for the rest of my life, and I know even if I do pursue a typical 9-5 job that I will always see areas for tinkering and the need for making things. I think that those who should refer to themselves as a maker are people who just see that there are so many things that could be improved with a little bit of thought, or those who just want to create what they see. Everyone is innately a maker, I believe; I think that some people are just more technically minded in understanding the intricacies of what it takes actually to build something.