Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

Mark Frauenfelder

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1591843324

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From his unique vantage point as editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes readers on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal- powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.

DIY is a direct reflection of our basic human desire to invent and improve, long suppressed by the availability of cheap, mass-produced products that have drowned us in bland convenience and cultivated our most wasteful habits.

Frauenfelder spent a year trying a variety of offbeat projects such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his daughters in the garage. His whole family found that DIY helped them take control of their lives, offering a path that was simple, direct, and clear. Working with their hands and minds helped them feel more engaged with the world around them.

Frauenfelder also reveals how DIY is changing our culture for the better. He profiles fascinating "alpha makers" leading various DIY movements and grills them for their best tips and insights.

Beginning his journey with hands as smooth as those of a typical geek, Frauenfelder offers a unique perspective on how earning a few calluses can be far more rewarding and satisfying than another trip to the mall.

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(from seeds bought at the supermarket) were supplying us with a tidy harvest of cayenne peppers, figs, basil, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon. By midsummer, the average weekly haul was about ten or fifteen pounds of produce (not including oranges and grapefruits). My garden produce looked so good that I often picked it and ate it without first going inside to wash it off. One afternoon I ate several figs, tomatoes, and basil leaves right off the plants, cleaning them by wiping them on my

▶ The freshness of the grind (one day or less) ▶ The type of grind (burr, not blade) ▶ The amount of force used to tamp the coffee down in the filter (thirty pounds) ▶ The water temperature (198 degrees) ▶ The extraction time (twenty to thirty seconds) Though I tried my best to control these variables, the appearance and taste of the espresso I made varied wildly from shot to shot. Sometimes the coffee gurgled out of the machine, weak and musty. Others, it dribbled out sour and muddy.

pulled out the bin and shook it gently from side to side. He explained that this was to neutralize the static charge that causes ground coffee to clump together. He poured the coffee directly into the filter rather than scooping it in, as I had. It rose from the lip of the filter in a mound. A good deal of coffee spilled over the sides onto the counter. “It’s important to make sure the coffee is distributed evenly in the filter,” he said. “The water will find the path of least resistance through

I have something to do with my hands. I often keep a lump of rubber artist’s eraser or Silly Putty at my desk to give me something to do while I’m on the phone, or else I’ll start surfing the Web or checking e-mail, which makes my attention drift away from the conversation. But an activity like whittling satisfies my urge to fidget without affecting the part of my brain needed to pay attention to people who are talking to me. I’ve noticed that if I play music while I write or read, I literally

educators, ‘What is it that I need to do? What curriculum should I do? How do I educate myself for the future?’ They’re not even thinking about the future for the most part.” Instead, Gray said, most of them are simply thinking about what they want to do that day. Gray consulted anthropologists who studied hunter-gatherer societies (which existed in a relatively pure form until the early 1970s) and found that children in those societies behaved similarly. “Whether the cultures were in Africa or

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