12 Jul 2021

Looking Back as Maker Advocate


Hai, everybody! Vicky here, writing about my reflection looking back as a member of the Dublin Maker team as their Maker Advocate. My role wrapped at the end of June and it’s been over 2 years since I joined the Dublin Maker Team as their Maker Advocate especially since my review blog post on life as their Maker Advocate

I may have hung up my Maker Advocate hat, but it has been an amazing journey meeting so many people and organisations and finding ways to connect people. And guess what? I still haven’t found a good open digital platform to share Maker info and resources

  • Github –  Not everyone will be comfortable using git and github (nevermind know what pull requests are), even though it would be a great way to crowd gather info in a very transparent way.
  • 🤔 Shared Google Spreadsheet – I’ve tried this in the past and people don’t add to the file either directly or via a form.
  • 🤔 Padlet – Found about his from CESI conference (if you haven’t been and interested in education, STEAM and other Maker-y goodness, you should check it out.

But I think the latter is pretty close (until the platform starts charging as we all initially free to use amazing products and services).

Here’s the Maker groups from a mind map I created when I started.

😓 As I said, I’ve never found a way to share this information.

It was a year in after making that mind map that I heard of padlet, find it below, I based it on the previous mind map, here’s the link to the padlet: https://padlet.com/makeradvocateirl/pj0ti18jkb2dmlbi

Made with Padlet

Or on a map highlighting Makerspaces, Fab Labs, etc. around Ireland (screenshot below or head over to the padlet itself at https://padlet.com/makeradvocateirl/h5fld6p5vqb3s8xf)

Made with Padlet

But there’s maps out there already:-

🤔 Could Notion be an answer?
It embeds collab tools like Miro and very easy to get into creating pages, tables (better than airtable), even has kanban board, and more. Let folks know what you think.

If you have a suggestion of a tool that’s open and easily accessible for people to contribute, email info@dublinmaker.ie.

Lots of collabs, events, activities happened since that initial Maker Advocate blog post including bringing Maker culture to Startup Week Dublin in 2019, we even had the Maker Van (DCC Libraries) parked at Wood Quay for “Maker Monday” and invited the Maker community to speak at the event and showcase in the Maker Van.

Teaching Python Turtle to groups of young teens at Creative Techfest. There’s been so many great activities and meeting so many amazing people that fast forward to 2020 and like everyone else, longing to meet and engage with people in person, even over a cup of tea to see how we can work together, get excited about ideas, and generally connecting, and of course, Science Hack Day!

The year 2020 was a hard year for many, and it’s still fresh in my memory on how all my activities stopped at the end of Feb 2020 when the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions came into force.

I was just off the high of:-

😥 And as it hits home more, my first trip to Berlin Makerfaire to represent Dublin Maker, its festival was cancelled. I was going to demo my first Maker project in public, a print your own text based adventure game. This would have been my first ever official Makerfaire and it is one of the largest in Europe. My plans were dashed as I hoped to visit and make connections with various local Maker/Hackerspaces by my Dublin Maker team-mate, Jeffrey, as my tour guide.

🤔 The first 3-6 months of 2020 also gave opportunities for many people to roll up their sleeves to figure out how to help with the shortage of PPEs for frontline workers from 3D printed or hand-made masks to people. Folks were also picking up making skills, including myself as I was completely lost from having a heavily populated calendar to it being almost wiped clean. How will I engage with the Maker community, how do I utilise my role and I also want to feel relevant in all that chaotic and confusing period? I wanted to help. Many organisations and people were trying to figure it out for themselves as lockdown and each level of restriction crept ever higher and no vaccine in sight. I started learning to make my own fabric face masks, they plucked up the courage to learn how to use my sewing machine I bought before lockdown. 

Other projects

I helped connect OSV to organisations that can donate any laminates for face shields, and Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council really helped my contacts.

As more and more events and conferences are going virtual, we decided to move Dublin Maker from 2020 to 2021 in hopes that we may have a hybrid or virtual event. Spoiler, it ended up being an all virtual Maker festival.


Before we get to that, during 2020, besides learning new making skills and publishing them on our website, we participated in events, gave talks like EnthusiastiCon (they are based in Berlin, kind of makes up for the Makerfaire cancellation).

Following are either collaborations, or new ways to engage with the Maker community and finding ways to raise the profile of the Maker community.


We even pitted ourselves against MakerMeet as part of CodeWeek Ireland (EU) 2020. It was an enjoyable IoT remote button mashing evening lighting up those smart LED bulbs behind Chris. 


I was asked to join Smart Balbriggan’s Steering Group as representative of Dublin Maker team as they are planning an IoT Maker Space in the town centre, which also gave us a platform to talk about Dublin Maker and the Maker culture to its community.


But how do we engage with our Maker community during this period of lockdown? We have been talking about making podcasts on and off before, and we ended up making 2 series of podcasts over the year: https://dublinmaker.buzzsprout.com/

I did try to upload them to Youtube, and tried my hand at making visualisers that changed as the people spoke in the podcast, but it didn’t generate as many visits. The other way was to play with an idea to record video of the podcast and show clips of it, but we decided to keep it all audio in the end.

Equipment used:

  • iTrack CM25B microphone
  • Yamaha MG60X (mixer)
  • Scarlett 2i4 (audio interface)
  • beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 32 Ohm (headphones)
  • Garageband
  • Zoom (Thanks to DCU)
  • Buzzsprout


First real streaming challenge, Maker-a-Day, this is during Science Week 2019: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAagJ_L-cqBFpBixy4-V2Rh0QvR4PhmTK

Equipment used:

  • iTrack CM25B microphone
  • Yamaha MG60X (mixer)
  • Scarlett 2i4 (audio interface)
  • beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 32 Ohm (headphones)
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Greenscreen (by Neewer)
  • Canva.com
  • Affinity Designer
  • iMac’s Facetime Camera
  • Zoom (thanks to DCU)
  • OBS streaming to Youtube


We partnered with TOG Hackerspace (Dublin) and Benchspace (Cork) on a competition for folks to make festive decorations in December 2020. We got over 100 entries! It took us a long time to judge and was amazed with the creativity of all the entries from people of all ages. It was fantastic to host and was a wee ramp down from the frantic Maker-a-Day week long event prior to this.


2021 is our big year when the Dublin Maker Festival makes a comeback. The equipment used is pretty much the same as what I used for Maker-a-Day.

We needed help and feedback as this is all new to us and we wanted Makers themselves to let us know how they would like us to run Dublin Maker, and any tips if we were to do a fully virtual one. What are they anxious about when doing virtual events? 

An outcome was sharing some of our experiences along with Chris and Nathan on making a Maker video: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAagJ_L-cqBEWAn-eUmlqN4wz9368fCBG

We answered questions as we were seeking questions ourselves on how to host Dublin Maker on Gather Town and how it will look like as we haven’t seen another Maker festival do something like this.

But we did it! Even a newsroom style 3 hour live-stream. I spend many hours getting overlays, graphics, b-rolls (extra intermission footage so there’s no silence or if there’s a technical issue, this helps us give us a breather behind the scenes).

Here’s the Dublin Maker 2021 Live Stream that you can re-watch:

Equipment and tools used:

  • iTrack CM25B microphone
  • Yamaha MG60X (mixer)
  • Scarlett 2i4 (audio interface)
  • beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 32 Ohm (headphones)
  • 2 x Elgato keylight
  • Elgato Stream deck
  • Canva
  • Affinity Designer
  • iMove (quicker and exports to mp4 instead of using Final Cut Pro)
  • Screen capture on the Mac
  • OBS streaming to Youtube
  • Zoom (thanks to DCU)

We premiered a documentary about The Makers at the end of the Dublin Maker festival:

🍿 You can (re)watch all the various videos from us and the Maker community who took part via our Dublin Maker 2021 Playlist: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAagJ_L-cqBEF2BxEWYQhRdtG6r3lDI2w


🥰 So here’s final thanks to the team for offering me this opportunity to connect with the Maker community, big ❤️ to David, Jeffrey, Laura and Tomas.

🌈 Now a big list of thank yous building on the previous list  (I’m sure I am going to leave out someone, so I might update this list in near future):

  • Cathay Foley (SFI for all your support and advice)
  • Angela, Paul, Aoife and rest of the team from DCC Public Libraries
  • Andrew from BRYR
  • Annabelle from Innovate Dublin
  • Thom from maker.ie
  • John from The Nerve Centre in Derry
  • Gretta from National Print Museum and seeing their PrintLab
  • Sarah from St John of Gods
  • Barbara from National Youth Council Ireland
  • Dominic Campbell from Creative Aging International & Dublin City Council Culture Company
  • Miriam and Jen from Tech Space
  • Kate from Make, Create, Innovate
  • Ellen and Vincent from Festival of Curiosity
  • Fiach, Melissa and Cathy from The Digital Hub
  • Rodhan from The Digital Hub
  • Gerard from Fablab Limerick
  • David and Fergus from BenchSpace in Cork
  • Liam from DCC (Ballymun)
  • Involve (Navan)
  • Sylvia from I-Form / Women in 3D printing Ireland
  • Jake Byrne (TCD and maker educator extraordinaire who ran activities on the Maker Van at Dublin Maker)
  • Local Enterprise Office (DCC)
  • Barbara, Tara and Darren from Coder Dojo
  • Orlaith from Explorium
  • Aishling Hyland, Aishling Lennon, Aoife Sheridan, Breffni ORourke from Fingal County Council, and Helen and Lillian from Blanchardstown Library
  • Eamon Donyln (All the great chats and ideas from SmartBalbriggan Steering Committee)
  • Tara, Cheryl, Nadja, Maria, Mick and Richie from LoveLaceSpace
  • Mairead from Science Gallery Dublin and SYSTEM 2020
  • Ann O’Dea from Silicon Republic
  • Stuart Lawn from Fab Lab Maker Hub (Manorhamilton)
  • Staff at DCU School of Computing
  • Insight at DCU (special call out to Operations)
  • DCU Comms (advice on marketing and promos)
  • Gene, Colin, David and all the Startup Weekend Dublin crew 
  • Deirdre Green and ASSESSMAKE21 team and partners
  • Deirdre Butler (DCU’s Institute of Education)
  • Sinead O’Shaughnessy from Dublin City Council Culture Company
  • Chris, Pam and Hassan from MakerMeet
  • Nathan Wheeler (Crafty Nathan’s Creations)
  • Julie Power (CodeWeekEU Ambassador)
  • Gemma Dempsy (DCU  Sports)
  • Suzanne Little and Aoibheann Bird (Girls Hack Ireland)
  • Ramya Bhat (From DCU Finance and super patient with all my questions)
  • Shaun O’Boyle (all those great podcast tips and pointers)
  • Stacey Connolly (helpful advice on promotion, from Beachhut PR)
  • Irina Dzhambazova (tips from your experience as podcaster)
  • Hugh, Zlata, Anna and the team at Invisible Thread

And to anyone who actually pushed me to apply for this Maker Advocate role, including my husband, Mick, thank you. It’s been challenging and amazing at the same time. I know our paths will cross as I’ll always be a fan of Dublin Maker.

🙌 And guess what? They’ll be back at Merrion Square next summer, so set reminders in your diaries to buy sunscreen and get your thinking caps on with your next project for Dublin Maker Festival 2022!

If you want to find me, I’ll still be involved with the Irish tech community especially around diversity in tech – https://beacons.page/whykay – I’m sure our paths will cross, and best of luck to the team, and looking forward to many more Dublin Maker Festivals in the near future.

As a take on what I say when I sign off on Dublin Maker podcasts.. (ahem, podcast voice on)

 “And this is Vicky, your Dublin Maker advocate, signing off for the last time!”

— Vicky Twomey-Lee
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