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By Kate Campbell-Payne on

Tinkers, tailors and electricity makers

On 26 and 27 May, makers, inventors, engineers, coders and crafters from all over the North West will descend on the Museum of Science and Industry for our annual celebration of tinkering, building and creating, MakeFest.

Running over the bank holiday weekend, MakeFest is all about visitors having a go and discovering a new hobby or secret talent. Before the hands-on madness begins, we thought we’d ask three of the makers to talk about how they got in to making, what keeps them going and the all-important question: what do their sheds look like?

What are you bringing to MakeFest?

Rachel Beattie, Create and Change the World with Maths

I am bringing along my dress invention, where I have combined my love of both maths and fashion to create a new type of dress. The dress has a zip around the waist, which means you can separate it into a top and a skirt. This means you can have a different or same size top to bottom and interchange the top and skirt to create different dress styles, showcasing combinatorics. I really wanted to create a dress that changed to fit to you as a person rather than us having to change to fit into dresses.

Create and Change the World with Maths

Holly Williamson, Steampunk Crafts

I am bringing some steam-themed bases for attendees to decoupage and stick cogs etc. to. I have steam train themed card and anyone taking part will get to have fun with glue, paper and embellishments and make their own fun steam train.

Holly Williamson of Steampunk Crafts

Marcin Poblocki, Wireless Electricity

I’m bringing lots of electrical related stuff. Visitors will be able to make their own wireless charger, power transmitter, and have a go at controlling a robot arm.

Marcin Poblocki of Wireless Electricity at work

How did you get into making?

Rachel: I always loved making for as long as I can remember, from making stalls for a shop or making fake microphones to pretend I had won Pop Idol or X Factor. When I was 14, I was studying for my GCSEs and my two favourite subjects were maths and art. For my art project I decided to create a dress with help from my nana, who used to be a seamstress. It was the first time I got to see a dress being made from start to finish and it was amazing to spend time with my nana, hearing about her career at a time where fitting to the individual was the focus. And I fell in love with the process from there.

One of Rachel’s dress designs

Holly:  As a child every time I got dragged through Boots, my one request would be to take home one of their collage kits. They used to sell creative items for kids and I used to love the bumper kit that came in a big box. I have always been very hands on and crafty. So, I guess unofficially I was around 3 when I started. My official business didn’t start until I was 27 though.

Marcin: I got into making about 5 years ago when I joined Fablab in Manchester. I was always interested in making, and at Fablab I gained the knowledge and experience to bring my ideas to life. I was 30 years old when I joined Fablab and right now I can’t imagine how my life and my career would look like if I would never joined.

What motivates you to keep making?

Rachel: I love the idea of creating something that has never been done or existed before. I really enjoy solving problems and how we can do this to make the world a better place for everyone. I love how once you put your mind to something and keep trying, you can create anything as well.

Holly: I am very driven by conversations to make things. Sometimes a great idea will come up and I think that it just has to be done. At the moment I am going over a lot of old ground, drawing up the sketches I did whilst going through tough times and preparing them for painting. I want to do a mini exhibition on mental health and emotion some time, but that’s another facet of my creativity, more of a personal one, whereas Cthulhu Cat Cult is more for fashion and fun.

Steampunk Crafts stall

Marcin: I joined the STEM Ambassador programme at the Museum of Science and Industry to inspire pupils into science by doing various activities and events, such as MakeFest or Bluedot Festival. Positive feedback and lots of questions from pupils motivate me to keep making and developing new experiments and activities.

What is your shed (or other workspace) like?

Rachel: Whenever I need inspiration I always work in my room, where I first came up with the idea for Careaux.

Holly: My studio/office is inspired by Kew Gardens and kitsch vintage. White, gold and green with fairy lights, a high sewing table, massive shelving unit and then my computer desk for those admin days. I am getting pictures on my wall slowly too. The studio space is full but quite tidy, I am pleased to say.

Marcin: My work space is small, but quite organized, as much as a working space can be. I turned my spare bedroom into my workshop and over last few years I have made or bought some equipment like 3D printers, a laser cutter and milling machines. Making and designing is my hobby and I spend most of my time in my workshop after work, because I like to keep myself busy.


If you’re coming to MakeFest be sure to say hi to Rachel, Holly and Marcin. And why not have a go yourself? Maybe we’ll see you at Makefest in 2019!

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