All posts by laura

22 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – WildAREness Project

The WildAREness Project

Orla Farrell always had a dream of growing a gigantic forest since she heard in school when she was 6 that Ireland was the worst in Europe for tree cover. She was hoping that some day, she would win the lotto and then buy an enormous bit of land, a few counties maybe and plant it there. But as she never bought a lotto ticket, that has not happened yet.

In the meantime, she has been planting tiny forests with the children in her school. The first one they planted was in the year 2,000 and while it is tiny the trees are now higher than the roof of the school and it is a home for lots of wildlife. They liked it so much they decided to plant another one at the Junior school last year; everybody loves it much more than plain ordinary old grass, (except for the caretaker, Pat, who loves cutting grass on the ride-on mower; he is starting to like it though because we planted him a special tree). Our tiny forest in Baldoyle is filled with birds, insects and every sort of creature but best of all lots of native trees including wild apple! We call it a badly-spelled name because our forests are one ARE in size, that is ten by ten metres, which is the sort of minimum-apartment-size for wildlife.

wildflower meadow_4705701699605836137_o

Well okay there is no actual minimum but this is a great size because it does not need too much watering or minding as it creates a micro-climate and hey, you won’t drive your buggy over it by accident or indeed a lawnmower. Lots of people love our idea and are helping us. We are quite worn out going to prize givings, we are thinking of not accepting any more prizes because we are too busy planting to be gadding off all the time eating free lunches. We are helping other schools to do the same as us this year and next Winter we are holding our first Tree Academy in our school with Plant for the Planet. Learn more about our Tiny Forest project here.

PS. One last thing; for every tree we plant in Ireland we sponsor another one in schools who can’t afford the one euro per sapling in poorer countries.

Forest Are logo lego


22 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – Wood Turning

Why Do I Make Things?


I’m in the process of making a bowl at the moment. My mother wants a salad bowl for summer. Its 30 degrees and I’m working in my workshop with power sanders and protective gear on. I would buy her a bowl for 20 euro. It would be a nice bowl, a very nice bowl. Why am I 3 hours into carving this bowl from a lump of maple that would crush my foot if I dropped it?
The bowl I am making is very nice. It would cost 150 euro to buy probably. Right now I’d happily pay the extra 130 euro to get out of this heat and sweat and ventilation mask and to have my afternoon back. Why do I make things? It cant be economic.. my workshop cost several thousand to fit out. That’s a lot of bowls.
I frequently abandon projects too. Its a cost of success because success is a destination and failure is a pitstop on the way. You literally HAVE to risk the failures to succeed. Muhammed Ali was arguably the most skilful boxer ever and even he got hit. Lots of times.
So why make things? My mother has the first bowl I made her. Its… its horrid. I would burn it with fire, but she loves it. Of course she does. People value something you make yourself because of the effort put into it says more than reaching for your wallet. But that’s not why I make things.
Ultimately there is a satisfaction in dreaming up a design, a plan, an idea and the next day holding something you dreamt in your hand. There is a validation in that… Satisfaction in creation. Its a powerful feeling to be able to execute on your dreams. That’s why I make things.
20 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – Arckit

Meet the Maker – Arckit

As an architect, I’ve always valued the ‘working model’ as a way to explore ideas and communicate these to clients. However, in recent years it has become more difficult to use this traditional method of design due to time and cost restraints. That’s when I began working on an idea for a freeform interconnecting modular system of ‘click together’ components for professional use.

To my surprise there was nothing else out there that was advanced enough to give the flexibility and scope to make realistic scaled architectural models, so Arckit is the first of its kind in this regard. It’s a fast, flexible and reusable system based on a real modular building concept that I developed to enable vast building possibilities.


An important consideration during Arckit’s development was that we wanted it to enhance digital design software rather than replace it. So we created digital versions of Arckit components within SketchUp and Revit that allow users to seamlessly move between physical and digital design when working on projects – whether they are in the office, classroom or at home. At the moment we’re putting most of our efforts into launching a new series of Arckit sets that will be available later this year.

These are second editions of our original model sets, offering a greater range of components and design possibilities. To build on our reputation as a popular STEM product for adults and children, we are also developing Arckit Education Programmes for schools and community projects that teach people about spatial design while opening up the joy of architecture through the use of Arckit.


We also have lots of other announcements coming up. Arckit is literally the first real evolution of the architect’s scaled working model and we will constantly strive to make it as good as it can be. For this reason we really value all ideas from our Arckit community. Next up we’re preparing to unveil an online Shapeways store where users can order bespoke 3D printed Arckit components that integrate with their existing Arckit range to open up limitless potential.


We’re really looking forward to attending Dublin Maker 2016 on home turf, where you can come to learn more about Arckit and unleash your inner architect.

Hope to see you there.

Damien Murtagh

Founder CEO

20 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – STEAM Room

STEAM Room – Lacken National School

I first came across the STEM concept while visiting my daughter on the Gold Coast in 2013. I liked the idea  teaching four areas as one subject. A seed was set and on returning to my own school I came up with the idea of a STEAM Room. I added A for Arts as I think fostering creativity and artistic ability is crucial to learning.
We had an attic in school which was a store room full of junk. The attic was cleared and work began in converting this unused space into a STEAM Room. With little money to spend over the course of a year the room was complete. A grant was secured from the Department allowing us to purchase vital equipment. We also had a fundraising walk and cake sale that brought in much needed funding. On March 16th this year we officially opened Irelands first and only school Steam Room. We had a fantastic day which was covered by local media both print and radio.
In the room we have a number of different stations. The class is divided into 5/6 groups  with each group given a task. We record each groups progress and post on slide show afterwards. The  activities  include Maker Space, Minecraft, Mathletes, Bloxels, Robotic Lego, Scratch, Coding and programming. It’s for all ages from 4 yr olds to adults.
Programming Bebots is cool for juniors. Programming drones to fly a specific circuit is challenging. We award a Pilots licence to anyone who can fly a specific complex route.
The new STEAM Room has had a huge impact on learning in my school. Pupils want to go there all the time. Learning is now fun and is often pupil led.My students teach me new things every day. I can programme drones and robots and use scratch.It is quality learning and not a book in sight.
We were invited to Dublin Castle last month to showcase our STEAM Room. Visit us at or twitter @LackenNS.
19 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – TechSpace

TechSpace Create,Invent, Inspire.

What is TechSpace you ask?

TechSpace is a national movement that aims to change the lives of young people in Ireland by becoming Ireland’s leading creative technology support network for outcome focused youth development.

So what exactly do we do?

We build the capacity of youth organisations and schools to run creative technology and STEAM education programmes. Through these programmes young people build confidence and 21st Century Skills; creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, vital for their successful futures.

What can you expect to see on the day?

We plan to exhibit parts of the TechSpace Maker Programme which was supported by ESB’s energy for generations fund. In the Maker Programme young people have created robots, built their own speakers, programmed circuits, soldered circuit boards, made screaming fruit, created playable lifesize operation games and even make their very own holograms! Drop by on the day to get a demo of robots and DIY holograms from the TechSpacers, you might even get the chance to make your own!

To get a flavour of what TechSpace is like check out this video of our annual gathering called Creative Tech Fest:

If you would like to find out more about TechSpace to get it started within your area, email to be sent an information pack.

12 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – Augmented Reality Sandbox

Allez les Bleus – Augmented Reality Sandbox

Florent, Dyana, Silvan, Vivien, Stephanie and Pierre-Alexis, engineering students and currently doing an internship in NUI Maynooth University, over the summer.

The AR Sandbox is the one toy you have been dreaming of your whole life. A group of french students have worked on it, and it works.

This sandbox is composed, as the name suggests, of a box filled with sand. But that’s not all ! A projector and a Kinect camera allow a computer program to directly read and reproject the topological data of the sand.

You can create small mountains, lakes, riverbeds, you name it. Just build it with your hands, and the projector will color your map depending on height.

What’s more, you can add water using two fingers, which will form pools and flow down slopes just like in the real world.

The fun potential is off the charts, but it also offers interesting applications, most notably in the geography domain.

11 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – TCD iGEM


‘What I cannot create, I do not understand’, were the words written on the chalkboard of Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, the day he died. Synthetic Biology (SynBio) applies this idea to living things.
We are a team of undergraduate SynBio researchers from Trinity College Dublin. We are using DNA, the language of life, to design and engineer living cells. Our team is preparing for the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston this October. At Dublin Maker, we will demonstrate SynBio by turning bacteria into living ‘paints’.
The ‘paints’, as seen above, are proteins made by ‘transformed’ E. coli bacterial cells. To transform bacteria, we select segments of DNA, the code for the machines we are building, and insert them into the bacteria by mixing them together. For Dublin Maker, our DNA codes for fluorescent proteins that glow under UV light. Using different variants of DNA, each encoding individual colours, we may design a range of bacteria producing a spectrum of colours we desire.
We then simply apply the cells onto an agar plate. After overnight incubation, the drawing then emerges on the plate; which can be seen more clearly under UV light.
Working on this BioArt is ideal preparation for the research we have planned over the summer. We will transform E. coli with genes helping to produce the anti-malarial drug ‘Artemisinin’. As well as this, we are trying to improve the ground-breaking gene-editing tool ‘CRISPR’ in E. coli with a recently discovered protein called Cpf1. This work may sound complicated, but it is essentially the same principles used in our BioArt. For painting, we transform bacteria with a simple set of colour encoding genes. To fight malaria, improve gene-editing, or build anything we can imagine, we just need to assemble the genes.
11 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – The Props Factory

The Props Factory

So we have been super busy here at the Props Factory, (2 grown adults refusing to grow up accompanied by other misfits doing the maker fair for the craic) – a collective of muppets making puppets really.  All of us come from a professional model making background with many years puppet building experience, both in digital, fabric and stop motion forms. We have worked in film, festivals, theatre and tv.

Pearse in the sweatshop   Clay seahorse sculpt

This year we will be bringing all types of puppets of various stages of completion to demonstrate the simple and the unbelievably complicated, and hopefully to pass on some of our 10+ years of experience to anyone who loves puppets as much we do.  Contact us here.

David and Paul   IMG_4298

11 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – PaperPetShop


My name is Brian Mc Swiney and I am the founder of PaperPetShop. I will be displaying some of the latest paper pet creations at DublinMaker 2016. My background is in engineering and I am primarily focused on design and inventing, as this is where my passion lies. I am a maker but I have always acutely aware of the costs of fabrication when based in a rural setting in West Cork. As an educator I enjoy introducing kids to science and engineering and I have hosted a number of maker workshops, for groups of children. My material choices have gradually changing over the last few years to finally arrive at the readily available, reusable and recyclable “Paper”. This for me democratises the art of making, allowing the potential for the greatest of reaches, in the paper crafting of pets.


The paper pet templates created act as an instruction that will take the crafter on a journey from a 2 dimensional plane, to a 3 dimensional modelling space. This happens every day on peoples computer screens but I believe the real learning is when one creates a tangible item before their own eyes, with their own crafting hands. I have made the papercrafting models enjoyably challenging, at approximately 200 polygons on each paper pet. I feel that this challenge gives one the right amount of time to connect with the paper pet they are crafting.
I have a lot of in the pipeline for the coming months and I will try keep you up to date with new developments. For further updates follow my blog.

wolf  owl

deer  monkey

11 Jul 2016

Meet the Maker – Bowsie Workshop

Bowsie Workshop

Bowsie Workshop, founded in 2011 by Aoife Noonan and Ben O’Connor is a studio workshop where ideas are concepted and fabricated all under one roof, with a strong emphasis on craft and artistry. They have earned a reputation for their imaginative approach to FX – mixing traditional techniques and the latest industry standard technology. Based in the Liberties in Dublin city centre, their 4,000sq ft  workshop and studio includes facilities for design and fabrication of large scale props, sculpture, special effects make-up and digital suites for editing, digital FX and animation.
Bowsie provides the following services: consultation and design of FX; concept design; digital FX; special FX make-up; prosthetics; sculpture; on set FX supervision; specialist prop fabrication; lifecasting; and tattoo transfers.

Dublin Maker Exhibit

Bowsie workshop last appeared at Dublin Maker during the inaugural 2012 event and were a great hit with attendees, demonstrating clay-based model making and hands-on special effects.  For the 2016 event Ben and Aoife will exhibit a range of model and set making pieces used in a recent digital short written and directed by Ben called a “A Terrible Hullabaloo” –  This short film which was commissioned by the Irish Film Board tells the story of young Vinny Byrne, a fourteen-year-old boy who found himself fighting for Ireland in the Easter Rising. An eighty-year-old Vinny reminisces on his time with the volunteers, which took him around the city during the fighting. With Vinny’s Dublin brought to life by handmade miniature sets and puppetry, the film offers a uniquely  first-hand account of the 1916 Rising and at the Dublin Maker exhibit attendees will get an opportunity to see some of the techniques used in creating the movie and get hands-on themselves with some of the fundamentals of model making.