Sam, known around the site as seamster, has an amazing portfolio of instructables! He's a front runner when it comes to contests, and his costumes and rockets are always impressive and creative. This might be the hardest time I've had picking ten of my favorite instructabless - they're all great. If you're not familiar with Sam, be sure to click through and have a look at his ibles. It's especially fun to look at the comments - many of his instructables have been recreated by the community!
How did you discover the site and what inspired you to start posting projects?
A few years ago I started stumbling across the site whenever I was searching online for DIY-related information. When I finally decided to take a closer look I became intrigued by many aspects of the site. What drew me in and got me to start posting my own projects was the opportunity to share my stuff with a really large audience. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun, and I was very curious to see what kind of feedback I would get.
Your projects are always top notch and you dabble in many of the site categories. How did you become proficient in so many skills?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve just enjoyed making things for the fun of it. For birthday presents my parents regularly gave me rolls of masking tape and hot glue sticks. I think it may have started with them just wrapping up stuff out of the cupboard to save money, but I didn’t know any better. So for whatever reason, I grew up spending my free time happily making things.
Now that I’m older, making things is still what I do for recreation. It helps me unwind and have a little balance in my life. I consciously try to take on projects that provide new kinds of challenges for me, or ones that are especially interesting to me for one reason or another. This approach essentially forces me to learn new things, and is perhaps the reason I appear (at least) to be proficient in many skills.
Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work?
Well, sort of. I took a couple of world history classes in college from an engineering professor. These classes were the only non-engineering courses he taught, and they turned out to be my favorite classes through my entire college experience. His whole slant on teaching these courses was to examine all human progress through the question “How was this creative?” The foundation for the classes was an understanding of what creativity really is. He taught that creativity is the ability to make connections between unrelated fields of knowledge in order to find solutions to problems or to come up with new things or ideas. That’s the gist of it, I think, or at least how I remember it.
This view of creativity has been highly influential in my approach to making. I find it incredibly satisfying to push myself to the limits of what I think I can do, and then struggle to apply what I know in new ways to overcome whatever challenges lie in my path. Ultimately, all of the stuff I’ve ever worked on is quite useless and inconsequential in the grand scheme, but setting up situations where I can have my own little “ah-ha” moments is why I so thoroughly enjoy making stuff.
How much of your time do you spend making things? It seems like you've always got an excellent instructable for each contest!
Not much, really. I’ve got a ridiculously time-consuming job, and a family that doesn’t see me enough as it is. But I try to retreat to the garage for a day or two every once in a while so I can pound out some idea I’ve been thinking about. The contests on instructables give me a good excuse to do that, and like most people I respond well to deadlines.
How long does it take you to complete an instructable, on average?
Well, that depends. I take a lot longer to document projects if I feel there’s a reasonable chance that people would want to duplicate them. For instructables like my Stuffed Hobbes or Flying Captain America Shield, I try to include every possible detail that will ensure a person’s success. I take the time to create downloadable patterns, include exact dimensions and lists of materials, and add links to related information.
I’ve noticed that I actually take less time to document projects that are more complex. I’ll gloss over steps that involve a lot of trial and error, and instead try to let good photos do most of the talking. I do, however, still try to include useful information on certain steps of these types of projects so readers will at least come away having learned something new, even if I don’t provide a complete roadmap for the project.
Your Wild Things costumes have gotten tons of views - were you surprised at how many people made them?
Yes! A lot of people posted photos of their own Wild Things costumes they made based on my instructable. It’s personally rewarding to see my projects help other people make things they can be proud of. I love it when people upload photos of their creations in the comments of my instructables. It always makes my day.
How do you come up with ideas for your projects?
All day every day, ideas just pop into my mind for things that would be interesting to make. I’ll even wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with surprisingly detailed random ideas. It is quite involuntary, and I’m not really sure where they come from. It’s just kind of how I’m wired, I guess.
I’ve got a pretty long list of future projects I’d like to tackle, and most of them will probably end up here on instructables. We’ll see!
Thanks for the interview. Happy making!