Building Hero Etsy Shop

MEET TROY TAYLOR

Author:
SAMANTHA WITTCHEN
Date:
APRIL 14, 2015

Troy Taylor, Building Hero

Last Spring, after several afternoons of watching the Bell sisters toil relentlessly at building rolling hang-out pods at their high school, Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber (SLA-Beeber), Troy Taylor and his friends finally decided they should help out.  Public Workshop’s Alex Gilliam gave them some guidance and told them to figure out what they needed to do to help build.  It was hard, but they got to work, and before long, Gilliam told Troy about The Department of Making +Doing, and Troy started coming to DM+D to take part in the Building Hero Project.

An avid skateboarder, Troy spent a lot of time skating at Public Workshop’s Pop-Up Skate Park project in Camden last summer.  When he was nine, Troy got his first skateboard from Toys ‘R Us, although he didn’t really skate with it—he and his brother found that it was great for rolling around on their stomachs.  When he was twelve, he upgraded to a better skateboard, but it wasn’t until a year later, when he traded in his Xbox 360 to get what he calls his “first real skateboard,” that he started practicing tricks and spent afternoons and weekends skating.

We caught up with Troy in between tricks to find out what keeps him coming back to DM+D.


5 QUESTIONS FOR TROY TAYLOR

1.  WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

I want to start making [ear]plugs. Eric, Ryan and I are working on getting a lathe so that we can make plugs for the Building Hero Etsy shop. Besides that, I’ve been working on fabricating desk organizers for the shop. I’ve gotten my Building Hero certification on a number of the tools here at DM+D, but I’m still working on a few of them.

2.  WHAT ABOUT DM+D INSPIRES YOU?

DM+D inspires me because there are always people here to push me. If I say I want to do a project for school, someone will help me with it.  I just had a geometry project, and I said, “Hey, Max, I want to do this,” and he said, “Do you have a model, do you have a Sketch-up, et cetera?” and I said “No,” and he said, “Well, start with that.”  People here are always pushing you to do better because you can do better. The people here who have that mindset are inspiring.

3.  WHAT’S ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS YOU REMEMBER MAKING ON YOUR OWN?

I was ten-ish, and my mom got a shoe rack and told me she needed it made, so I assembled it for her. (My dad wasn’t home at the time.)  Then whenever we needed something new—like a shower caddy or something—I’d be the one to put it together.  I became the person in my house who builds stuff.   Most recently, we got a new living room coffee table and side table, and I put it together.

4.  WHICH MAKERS HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?

If there is one person here who’s had the most influence on me, definitely without a doubt it’d be Max Lawrence.  When I first started coming to DM+D, he was always here in the background cracking jokes, and I was like, who is this guy?  He told me a while ago, “You’re me when I was your age if I was black.”  He used to just have fun being a kid…doing things that kids do.  My mom knows that he’ll put me in check if I’m not doing what I should be doing.  He’s kind of a mentor.

5.  WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS?

Can I tell you my least favorite part?  My least favorite part is thinking I did something really well and having to redo it because it wasn’t good enough.  But my favorite part might be the outcome.  It’s when you worked really really hard on something and had to do it a billion times to get that thing that you’re really proud of.  It’s like mastering a trick in skateboarding, and the feeling is amazing.  That’s how it feels when you create something you’re really proud of.

Troy on skateboard

Meet KC Shoot

Author:
SAMANTHA WITTCHEN
Date:
FEBRUARY 17, 2015

KC Shoot on bike

Last week we told you about the recently launched Building Hero Project Etsy shop, and KC Shoot was a big part of getting the shop off the ground.  Lately she’s been working with the Building Heroes, leading fabrication for the Etsy shop on Mondays and Fridays and managing order fulfillment.

But KC first came to DM+D through The Hacktory and an opportunity they had to teach people how to make bike lights with Neighborhood Bike Works.  From there, her involvement with other organizations affiliated with DM+D grew organically.  Having had Public Workshop’s Director, Alex Gilliam, as a professor at the University of the Arts (where she studied industrial design), she wasn’t exactly a stranger to the kind of work that happens at DM+D.

And while she’s been spending most of her time on the Building Hero Project lately, that’s not all she does at DM+D.  She’s also frequently the person behind DM+D’s tweets and Instagram posts.  In between making desk organizers, we asked KC a few questions about what’s next on the design boards.


5 QUESTIONS FOR KC SHOOT

1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

I’m focusing on doing more classes through DM+D. We’ll be doing a wearables class soon. I’m also focused on creating more products for the Building Hero Project Etsy store. We’ve been busy getting people comfortable with product fabrication, but once that’s under control, I’m excited about working on new products.

I also do a lot with fashion at the moment. I’m working on a jumpsuit line. I find fashion very classist because it’s about having status symbols like designer brands and not about how the clothes are made or their quality. So the stuff I do is more anti-fashion. I really want to make something that’s locally produced. The dye, the fabrics—all of it—would have to be locally sourced.

As part of my desire to help people understand the whole process of how our clothing gets made, I’m working on a kit that incorporates all the different aspects—from dying the fabric to sewing the clothes—for people to experience the process themselves.

2. HOW DOES DM+D INSPIRE YOU?

Being at DM+D has been inspiring me to be a more inclusive designer and to work better with people. I’ve gotten better at explaining my ideas in a more objective and open way instead of just being a talking head.

Another great thing about DM+D is that the people really care. They are always open to listening to me, and I feel heard. I think they legitimately care about how people want to use the space.

I also love that nobody here is trying to hold onto their designs. If you want to learn something, you can pretty much walk up to someone who you think knows something about it, and they’ll show you. It’s a very inclusive space.

3. WHAT’S ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS YOU REMEMBER MAKING ON YOUR OWN?

I used to love making my parents elaborate (or at least elaborate for a child) pop-up cards. I made lots of presents for my parents. It’s great because they have to like what you make for them since they’re your parents.

4. WHICH MAKERS HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?

I really really like Neri Oxman. As a designer, you often want to take scientific things and add them to your art, but it’s difficult to understand how the technology or the science—like biomimicry, for example—works. She’s one of the few designers out there that can combine the two really well. And she’s intensely photogenic.

Additionally, my peers from school are doing super cool stuff lately, and that’s influencing me. I have a friend who designed pants for people in wheelchairs, and I’d like to do disability design. One of my professors, Mike McAllister, has worked on disability design, and he’s been an influence. I’ve always been very influenced by the people around me.

5. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS?

Sometimes I’ll think of an idea that’ll be too big, and I get overwhelmed with it. When I get to the point where I can actually get excited about it, that’s the best. I really like thinking of the implications of a design idea–that is, the emotional nature and how it affects people. Sometimes I like the thinking better because it’s easier than the making.

Kraken ring - Building Hero Etsy shop

One of KC’s contributions to the Building Hero Etsy shop, a laser cut kraken ring.

Block Party In a Box

KC helps with a little bike maintenance during a block party.