Question for all makers

Hi everyone, I’m an Art Therapy graduate student working on my thesis. I’m studying makers and the psychological benefits they experience in order to expand our knowledge of the maker culture. My question to all makers is what do you feel are the benefits you get from making? Are there any skills you have gained in your preferred type of maker pursuit that you feel has helped you in other areas of your life or positively effected your overall wellbeing?

Thank you to everyone who answers.

Edit:
Thank you to everyone who has responded your input has been amazing and has really helped me with my research.

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What I have realized is true in all life (not just this maker culture). The people that just take and never give back are a drain on the community. The community is strengthen by those that share, even if they don’t think their project is worth sharing. It is not up to you to determine your worth. You always have yourself. Share with others and let them be expanded by your experience. And if you do, there might be someone that had a similar experience and you can learn from them too.

The more you are involved in a community, the more likely that community will rally around you if you fall down or need assistance. Much more so than if you fall and demand a stranger to help you.

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I would say some of the benefits of making, for me, include:

  • A sense of accomplishment and a positive feeling that I spent time on an active, creative, pursuit. Even if the result was a pointless tchotchke, I was engaged in the effort, not just passively watching TV.
  • It provides a concrete reminder that I actually have some skill and talent. When I’m feeling incompetent and useless, I can look over at a really well-done project and feel some pride.
  • I enjoy giving hand-made things to people.
  • Learning to do something gives me an opportunity to teach others, opening up a whole additional hobby.

Problem solving is a skill I’ve always had and I gravitate toward personal and professional domains where I can engage that as much as possible. But as a Maker, I can now paint with a much larger palette. I needed to solve the problem of putting my ukuleles away, and I have the capability now of envisioning exactly the kind of wall hanger I want and conjuring it into existence.

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For me, there is a unique satisfaction I experience in making a thought, an idea - manifest in reality.
To give physical birth to a mental apparition.

Salvador de Madariaga quote: Art is the conveyance of spirit by means of matter .

Good Luck in your efforts, and Welcome to the community! :sunglasses:

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what chris1 said

plus:
gives me a sense of control over my environment
provides chance to learn
strokes my ego when people like the output

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Patience!
There is no magic that things happen automatically, All that happens is what you have done, If it is not done right it is yourself that did so. If several hours has to be spent cleaning something up, there is no waving your hand to “make it so”. The Laser can get the job done that would be a week with a hand saw and do a better job, but it does only that. You have to still do the rest

There is much pleasure in accomplishment, and sharing ideas, and being able to gift friends with a part of you that you thought up and made, but it is patience and real fact awareness that changes who you are that may not have been as much that way before.

A wander through the P&S section can give insight into the “Before”.

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This is one of the few questions that truly have no wrong answers. I could talk about having cool bespoke stuff or great gifts or personal development but each of these are just pluses for me.

My answer to this is Flow.
I was discussing this with maker and amateur philosopher Andy Berkey several months ago and I realized that I am a flow junkie. Every leisure persute I’ve undertaken can and does produce flow state in me.
I think this is the case to one degree or another for most makers.
If per chance your thesis or a portion of it becomes about the flow state I’d love to read it.

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It makes the wife extremely happy (cool gifts, etc) which means I can continue to eat well.
Joking aside, some comment:

During the last few decades before I retired I was tasked with bringing the new technicians and electricians into the fold, introducing them to our safety standards, assisting with any certifications they lacked, and eventually giving recommendations on where they may best fit in.

By the time I had them for 90 days or so I had a fair handle on their capabilities, reactions to heights and tight spaces, etc, and also if they favored hands on work or diagnostics.
That last pertains to your question.

Some people need to touch things to get a sense of worth or job accomplishment. So an infrastructure, cabinet, pipe run, or scratch code writing type of tasking would be very fulfilling for them.

Whereas a system diagnosis or program trouble shooting that only resulted in some lights working or a humming component did not give them a ‘get er done’ thrill. Nothing to touch or point to and say I put that there.

Working with the Glowforge covers both of these styles, (or types), so one question may be, is all the fun in the design phase? Does making and lasering the design make you tingle when you pick it up? Or does the troubleshooting and modifications when it does not work pump you up more when finally successful?

Here is a tidbit that may help. I got to watching my trainees during break and lunch periods, because I noticed that the one’s who did crosswords, sudoku, etc, always excelled at diagnostics and it gave me a clue that I could lean heavier in that direction.

Makes sense. Instead of making little houses out of sugar packets (true story), they were getting pleasure out of solving puzzles while on their own time, similar to what diagnostics/analysis/troubleshooting entails.

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At least from perspective it comes down an economics concept of utility. I get lots of utils, the measure of utility, out of making. The fact that I can custom make something for someone and they enjoy it, brings me great happiness (utils).

From a professional perspective, it has opened up opportunities that I otherwise would probably not have been considered for. The most recent prime example is being included in IoT initiatives at work because they know that I have the skills and tools to build things. This brings more utils, and pay.

From a mental stand point It helps to relieve stress. The things I make are an artistic outlet for me. Although I may not be as artistic as some of the others here, I can still add my own touches. Once again adding to the utils.

It allows me to be creative. Creativity, I think, is the key to problem solving. Much like any other muscle in your body, if you don’t use it, it will go away. I would tell you that my creativity, when I am making, increases in my professional life. This in turn… ok I will stop with the utils stuff.

It teaches you how to deal with frustrations, set backs and how to overcome your own general stupidity.

The last point that I am going to make is that I think it teaches you how to connect with others. This will be true of most communities but hobby communities, which I include makers into, are usually very social groups. People reach out to you because they know you do xyz and want to know more. Maybe they are interested. Maybe their kid is interested. I once had someone talk to me because the person they wanted to date was into making.

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My mother has always been my maker inspiration. She’s an intensely intelligent person who knows how to do so many practical things; she can make glue out of rice, sew an entire wardrobe, safely trap birds, on and on. This came from growing up in another country where some of these were necessities and more importantly because she was nurtured by loving parents.

When we came here I was less than a year old and my mother struggled with an new world of different customs, a difficult new language to acquire and her supporting network of loving family and friends was suddenly an ocean away. We were never impoverished but not quite middle class either. She made the most of every scrap, take out container, paper bag, vegetable peel - DIYed the sh*t out of everything so that I would never be malnourished or neglected. All of our food was lovingly cooked by her from scratch, carefully examined and stripped of any impurities, blemishes or anything else she deemed harmful. Mom was OG organic before it was even a thing. She made all of my clothes for years and took in piece work to supplement dad’s income. Throughout all of this she quietly nurtured and encouraged my creativity even though, culturally, I was “expected” to become a respected scientist/doctor/laywer/financier.

So I’ve been a maker and creative problem solver my entire life. As we became settled in our new lives and circumstances improved the fiercely DIY spirit never left. I didn’t grow up to become a scientist/doctor/laywer/financier. It took many tears and arguments to convince some members of my family that the arts have merit and I’ve built a very comfortable life doing things I love because my mom always believed I could. I make because I can, because I love to, because I am always trying to solve problems with flair and because my mom is the most amazing maker I know.

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For me it is a way to shut out all other distractions and concentrate on one thing. My mind runs a million miles an hour all day and night. When I sit down and really get into a design everything else just fades away. Plus I love to problem solve, I like to do things in a new way. The satisfaction of a completed design is almost secondary.

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I agree with many of the benefits of making stated above…

My father was born in the 1920’s, grew up on a farm in the Yakima valley in Washington. During the Depression, if something broke, they couldn’t buy a replacement, so they had to fix it. Figuring out how to fix things/physical problem-solving was a deep value for him.

When I was a child, he made some some very cool toys for me, with leftover bits of wood, with metal cut from tin cans, etc. I grew up watching him build a few boats, one of which he kept for over 40 years before selling it to a friend. Because I was a girl, I didn’t get to help him as much as son would have, but I did watch and learn things. And I inherited his attitude that things can be fixed, that things can be made, that mistakes are a way to learn, and that a bit of thinking will help with most problems.

Making things on the laser or in other ways honors my connection to my father (he’s been gone 20 years), and is often a good intellectual challenge. It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Much work these days does not involve making physical things, and I think that if we spend all our worktime moving words or numbers around, we don’t have the feeling of accomplishment that we do if there is a physical thing we can look at and say, “I made that.”

The fiber artist Renate Hiller has a great video on handwork, and I have always thought her comment in the video that children grasp things with their hands before they grasp them with their minds is an important concept…

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I am new to the laser cutting/burner I hold a Master Science in Cyber Security and Computer science. I am retired but to learn new technowaledge and supplement my income at the same time. I have an. Interest in business plans for my new glow Forge what is the best route to go to start a small little neighborhood business to generate that income while I learn new technology

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I consider myself a craft enabler. Part of the making process for me is allowing others to take part in the some aspect of the end result. When I ship my products, the customer has work to do. (at least in my current offerings on Etsy.) I think the reason I love being a maker is that it might inspire others to also create.

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@markevans36301 mentioned “flow” and in all honestly, I had to go look it up lol. But yeah, it perfectly describes something I experience and didn’t have a good name for. I get immersed in an idea and the experience beginning with conception, hours of designing and then actualization of the physical product is cathartic for me. I don’t make stuff to sell or even stuff that most folks would want to buy, I just want to get the images in my head into a physical form and awful lot of the time once I’ve made it, I’m kinda just done with it. Needless to say that leads to me having a ton of pieces scattered about or stored in boxes somewhere. I love my GF because it’s been the first tool that really lets me express all my ideas and get them from paper/computer into form.

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I think you could learn a lot by clicking on any user that has been with the forum a long time and read their posts sequentially. You could even scrape their posts and do some Quantative analysis On their posts and see the results of making right there.

Maybe you could do an analysis of the Made on Glowforge Posts or do some rubric study of the free laser designs. That would show work that people are proud of.

I work with people. I can’t fix them and they are never finished. The Glowforge enables me to accomplish something.

I think that the design tools we use and the process of creativity says a lot about our need to test ourselves and stretch. Growth occurs only with stress for humans. Some folks like me like to figure out things, solve a problem. Some folks like to make something beautiful. Some folks like to give a handmade gift away.

I think a very fruitful line of inquiry would be about how precision figures in to the making experience. The laser does this and it triggers a feeling that we rarely experience.

Materials also are an amazing part of the process. Read @jae’s posts. You will understand.

Read @chris1’s posts on his search for ventilation perfection.

Read @rbtdanforth’s posts. It will be very informative.

Read @markevans36301’s stuff about his quest to make a product.

Read @geek2nurse’s posts and you will be invited into her life.

Read @rpegg’s posts and you will catch a glimpse of a fascinating man.

Read @cynd11’s Made on the Glowforge posts and you will be blown away by here creative eye.

And of course there is @dan’s story. I do believe that he is not in it for the money. He has been successful already. Why start a new project at all? It is highly personal but he also is aware of the social need for a precision laser machine to enable the average person to do things they couldn’t do without a laser.

I’d go on but I think you get it. Good luck.

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I discovered, as a young SAHM mom, that I needed creativity in my life. I had a degree in electrical engineering, but chose to stay home and raise my children. Society is not kind when you do that – it’s a constant battle to retain your sense of self-worth when you’re assailed on all sides by the assumption that you stay at home because you’re not smart or skilled enough to work, and that somehow you’re not “contributing” to society (raising solid future members of it doesn’t seem to count, somehow). And of course there was the thing that happens where my husband at the time would come home, survey the toys and piles of laundry and dirty dishes and ask, “what did you DO all day?” and no amount of explaining could convince him I’d actually cleaned the living room 3 times and the kitchen twice and washed and folded at least as much of the laundry as was currently in evidence, along with diapering and feeding and caring for our small children.

I discovered that making things kept me sane. Everything else I accomplished, cleaning, cooking, diapering, feeding – those things all came undone pretty much as fast as I did them. Making things became my way of proving to myself that I was actually making some progress. Amidst the chaos, I could have that one thing I had done that had STAYED done, to prove that I had actually accomplished something, and it helped me to remember that what I was doing WAS worthwhile and valuable, even if no one else seemed to think so.

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I never cease to be amazed at how much you can say in such a small space. Your compassion mixed with passion. Not to mention that subtle mixing of words to make just the right prose.
If you ever wrote anything for general readers I’d read it even if the subject wasn’t on my top 10 list just for the prose. Your choices of words personally remind me of a combination of Dann Dennet and Steven Pinker.

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When I first got my Glowforge, I was 72. As I began learning and reading what other members here had to teach me, I got the first glimmer of something in myself that I never knew was there…the love of designing… complete with doing the math and the intense thought required of me to bring forth a plan to make something…finally, something that could utilize my strong ODC tendancies for good purpose. Now I am 75 and feeling even more enthusiastic about it than ever before. It has also taught me to practice patience. I can truly say that I probably enjoy the process of design more than the actual product that comes of the process.

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I get a lot of feeling of deja vu in this thread.
That might make for a good subject for our OP, a scatter plot of personality types. I would think there would be a lot of dots over in the introvert corner but some of the other indices would probably be all over the place.

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