Somewhere There (Toronto, ON)

February 28th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Although this is not directly relevant to a maker shop, I thought I would post this anyways because it deals with a “space” that was created, and and I thought you all would appreciate it anyways.

I visited Somewhere There Studios in Toronto and got the chance to talk with Scott Thomson who owns the place. He explained that Somewhere There is a venue for live experimental music that filled a void in the Toronto area. The space opened up about 2 years ago, and currently has live shows 6 nights a week. Somewhere There also hosts one long standing Toronto weekly series “Leftover Daylight” that is now in its 5th year.

Scott explained that he took it upon himself to open up the venue when he saw that all lot of the smaller venues in the city were closing due to rising rent. At Somewhere There he is responsible for curating many of the shows and taking care of the day to day business dealings, he also writes a blog about Somewhere There.

Currently he is running the place to give artist a venue for their music and to and keep the music scene alive in Toronto. He is not exactly making money on the venture, he is actually losing a bit each month, but looking from his perspective, he see a great value in providing the space to the community, he gets to be involved in the music that happens there, and during the day time the space is used as his personal studio.

Somewhere There is located just off of a public transit line on the corner of Dufferin and Melbourne Avenue just outside of the Toronto center. Inside, after walking up the stairs, there is about 1000 sq feet of area. The stage is on the same level as the seating which is mostly couches and a few chairs (that were in high demand when I visited). There is enough room for any modest size band and on one end of the stage there is a upright piano, but it wasn’t in working order when I was there. Typically the shows are small 10-20 people. This makes for a very intimate situation, and as Scott spoke of it, it jumps over many of the hassles of a bar or similar venues pose.

When I asked Scott if he had trouble finding artists to play each one of the six nights there is live music, he said that there has been no problem since he opened, and the artists are actually coming to him. I understand how this could be the case, as the size and the laid back atmosphere made me feel very comfortable and welcome, and I can understand how artists would also appreciate the setting.

When I was there Philallistah, Ken Aldcroft Convergence Ensemble, and dysfunct all took the stage. Each group performed twice or at least the Convergence Ensemble did as I could not tell the difference between Philallistah and dysfunct, almost all of the members stayed the same. The Ken Aldcroft Convergence Ensemble, who Scott played with during the second set, was a 5 piece that night, percussion, upright bass, 2 horns, and guitar. They were quite interesting to listen to and I later learned some of the members are also involved in The Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto). In the back of the room where some select recordings were for sale, I picked up a recording by AIMToronto who in 2007 performed Anthony Braxton’s Creative Orchestra in Guelph circa 2007. Philallistah or dystunct? was an experimental indie band pictured below. They moved around different genres during their sets so it’s hard to describe their sound, but I quite enjoyed it when the members of the band all sung without mics during parts of a song, something that would be quite impossible at other venues. It was also quite evident they were enjoying themselves, and I am glad to have seen them.

Somewhere There Studios

In the Future, Scott has plans to hand over Somewhere There to a group of like minded people instead of running it by himself. Before he does that he wants to workout all of the kinks in the operation, and make sure that the space is sufficiently established so that it can continue pushing forward. If you are in the area and interested in seeing the place come with open ears and enjoy yourself, beverages are in the back and the profits go towards fixing the piano.

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Make: Day @ The Science Museum

February 28th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Make: Day celebrates the ingenuity and inventiveness in our community. Building off the success of Maker Faires and the American Maker events, Make: Day will give local engineers, artists, tinkerers and inventors the opportunity to showcase their DIY creations to Science Museum visitors.

Festivities will take place on Saturday, March 14th, from 10 am to 3 pm throughout the Science Museum’s exhibit galleries. The event is included in the regular admission price and free to all members of the museum.

Here are some of the things you’ll find:

  • Dozens of other local talented Makers, several of which appear on the first season of Make: television
  • All of the Maker Workshop projects including the Burrito Blaster and the DTV Antenna
  • Demonstrations from Makers and musical performances emceed by our very own William Gurstelle
  • Tons of hands-on activities for people of all ages

There will be lots of different exhibits shown including:

- Make: television episodes and projects
- Geek Squad Agents and Tech Tips
- Tim Kaiser, featured on Episode 6 of Make: television
- Scott Olson – Inventor of Rollerblades, Rowbike and Kong Pong,
- Savage Aural Hotbed
- Studio Bricolage
- Hands on Scratch programming demo
- Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center
- Keston and Westdal
- Asia Ward – Animatronic Sculptures
- Kyle Phillips – multitouch surface table
- St. Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team
- FIRST Robotics in Minnesota
- The LED Obi – wearable technology
- Bakken Museum
- 3D Printers from Stratasys
- Tripoli Minnesota
- Twin Cities Robotics Group

Volunteers from Twin Cities Makers will be there in the morning and afternoon session, We will be wearing T-shirts of some sort and have some information concerning our group to hand out. We also might be showcasing our spoon-apult.

If this event and future events go well Maker Faire might come to the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, so be sure to come out and enjoy the event.

via Make: Blog

Studio Bricolage Rube Goldberg Event

February 28th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

image via wikipedia

THE SECOND ANNUAL RUBE GOLDBERG
MACHINE BUILDING EVENT

When: 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Friday, March 6
Feel free to just show up. No pre-registration required. No experience necessary.

Where: Studio Bricolage 4301 Nicollet Avenue in South Minneapolis.

Its a Rube Goldberg -inspired chain reaction contraption evening…
Come and create something that rolls, spins,shoots floats, knocks, bumps, floats, wobbles or careens into another machine in a long chain of events … culminating in…a very enjoyable evening!

The Lab for Humanistic Fabrication: Another Maker Shop Variation

February 10th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

The Hacking and Humanist Fabrication Wiki

I am not completely sure exactly what the Lab for Humanistic Fabrication is but is seems like another version of a maker shop. Here is some of the equipment they have as of December 2008.

  • Sherline 2010 8-axis CNC mill
  • Sherline 4410 CNC lathe
  • NextEngine 3D laser scanner
  • Modela MDX-20 CNC mill
  • Copam 24″ vinyl cutter
  • Drill presses (8″ and micro)
  • Precision measuring instruments
  • Workstation running SolidWorks
  • Tablet computers and PDAs
  • Weller soldering stations
  • Dremel rotary tools
  • Video / digital cameras
  • Arduino
  • Phidgets
  • XBee

More information in available on their Fabrication Wiki.

It appears that the lab has some association with The University of Western Ontario in Canada.

Also from the site:

“This three-day workshop (Toronto, May 2009) will explore the theme of E-waste and environmental data. Working in small groups, participants will be given the task of hacking some typical consumer e-waste to create reflective technological assemblages that incorporate ‘nature’ in some form while calling one or more of our basic assumptions into question. To keep the workshop manageable, participation will be by invitation only—but we’d like the right people to be in the room. If you really want to be there, please e-mail one or both of us and let us know.”

I don’t think this lab is open to the public just students in university or people enrolled in workshops.

Active Surplus (Toronto, ON)

February 10th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

It’s always fun to check out surplus stores, there is one in Toronto called Active Surplus. It is sandwiched between a few different designer clothes shops on Queen St. There are some found object sculptures on the outside of the building, something I didn’t notice when I first walked in.  After walking up two flights of stairs to you get to the store. There is a full size gorilla statue extending a warm welcome and then there is the stuff. Several rows of stuff all stacked to the celling and pretty tightly packed.

All the regular surplus type things were there resistors, connectors, motors, odd objects. In the front there is all the really good stuff behind the glass cases (not really), its still all old surplus stuff perhaps some one wants that  huge motion proximity sensor/speaker box, that is about 8″x10″x4″, or that set of loud speakers in a faded neon yellow box from the 80′s.

In my experience surplus stores are all about the same. Of course they all have different surplus, so you never know what you might find, but you know what you can expect. It’s kind of like the whole Chinese restaurant thing in the US, all of the restaurants are pretty much the same. They all have very similar items on the menu but like surplus stores there are no nationwide chains normalizing them, it just happened. It’s interesting to to think about how these things just came to be. 

Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop

February 4th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak


I was browsing the technology section of Half Price Books in Seattle and I found Neil Gershenfeld’s book “FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop–From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication.” I was unaware that he had written a book on the subject and I am reading through it currently.

Neil is what initially inspired me to start researching a maker shop. I first learned about what he was doing from his TED talk in Feburary of 2006. Neil is the driving force behind what is called a “Fab Lab” that is, one version of a maker shop. Wikipedia’s article has some great information on Fab Labs as well as some links to some of the places around the world that currently have Fab Labs. There is a also a great Fab Lab Blog that is chronicling what is going on in the Fab Lab community.

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