art Usability

Lasers and Practical Skills

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I first “met” Dan a year ago, right after GHC last year. He reached out to me because of the stuff I’d been writing about men and male allies. We became twitter friends, and so I got to read a preview of his book – which is great, because I’d realized that Dan was someone I could get a lot of useful information from, if I knew what to ask. And then he wrote it down and O’Reilly published it, which is much more efficient for everyone.

Since early this year I’ve been working with Glowforge, I started by working with them on their hiring process and technical interviews and they asked me to be an advisor, which is really cool. My understanding of what “advisor” means is basically: I talk to Dan, and other Glowforge peeps, and try to be helpful. This is pretty easy since I love doing all of these things! It’s awesome to work with people this interesting, building something so cool, who are so mindful of building an inclusive company. I’ve never felt so appreciated and valued by people I work with.

I missed the sensation that was Glowforge at NYC Makerfaire by about 24 hours, but decided that Seattle was basically on the way to Toronto from Texas. And then I stretched reality a little more to decide that Seattle was on the way from Texas to Medellin (Colombia). I have no regrets though, because I got to spend around 72 hours hanging in Seattle and as many of them as possible with Dan and at Glowforge.

This wasn’t part of the advisor description Dan sent me, but I gave myself the extra task of being the #1 Cheerleader for Team Glowforge. So of course I bought one on pre-order day. Despite the fact that I have 1) no artistic talent, 2) no practical skills, and 3) nowhere to live.

You may be curious as to where you ship your Glowforge if you’re homeless? I had it shipped to my parents place. My mom thought I was deranged until I showed her the catalog of things she could make and now she’s calling it “her” Glowforge.

Anyway, I finally got to make things with Dan on Sunday! Which was so cool. We made little charms with the Show and Hide app icon on them, and I got to draw on acrylic and have it cut out. Because I have no artistic talent I did the standard programmer thing of making a hello world… but now with MOAR LASERS.

A magical evening of lasering took me from 25% excitement 75% anxiety (owning a thing! A large thing! A laser! That makes yet MORE THINGS! – Things are very stressful when you live in a series of hotels and AirBnBs) to 75% excitement 25% anxiety and I really do need to find somewhere to live before they ship. If my mom gets hold of mine I will never be able to get it away from her.

I know a lot of women in Seattle, so we put on an impromptu #LadiesAndLasers night which was awesome. People made cool things with acrylic (and Nikki made me a hedgehog, which is amazing), and we had tons of fun.

All of this to say: I’ve never even been to a makerspace. I haven’t touched any kind of Practical Making Device since I did a GCSE involving woodworking. There’s an enormous mill (named, creatively, “Milly”) and the laser that Dan used to make 3D Robot Turtles pieces in the office, large terrifying machines, that require goggles and precautions and, or so I imagine, Practical Skills. But the team has managed to build something that isn’t terrifying, which is so cool! At a high level I’m excited about the democratization of technology. Personally though, something that I never thought would happen has: I’m excited to make physical things.

The pre-order campaign ends Friday and you can get yours here with $100 off from my referral code.

Or if you’re looking for a job and can/will live in Seattle, they’re hiring.

3 replies on “Lasers and Practical Skills”

this is awesome. We ordered a glowforge a month back, can’t wait for it to come in.

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[…] out at Glowforge I had no idea what I would make. It was somewhat revelatory to me to discover that making things wasn’t actually terrifying, and Dan and I made my Show & Hide necklace together (now my favourite accessory, as it […]

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