Crazy, Amazing and Delicious AIR Experience Answered
What a wild ride...
So here's the recipe. Take one computer illiterate lady who's got a lot of random skills she's learned along the way and throw her into a room with 12 other people who's second language is CAD or 0110001 or some other variation of looking into the eye of a screen and typing sweet nothings into its curvacious keyboard. Man did I feel like a fish in the desert. I left orientation completely overwhelmed, flattened, and having no idea what I was doing there amongst all these obviously tech savvy folks. Once again odd man out. Now let me be clear, this has nothing to do with the people. Everyone was super sweet and willing to help. I was out of my element, which is exactly what I needed.
For as long as I can remember, I've always thought in art. From the clothing and accoutrements I make for myself to the images I capture. From the food that I create to the materials I bind together, or the mood i can set in an empty space if given a couple days to have my way with it. Creation and art are an integral part of my existence as an external expression of my internal voice. So having three paid months to spend on my own work was a dream come true.
For the first time in my life I was able to really focus on my work with 100 % of my attention and not juggle how I was going to pay rent and which piece goes where or how am I going to afford that thing I need for it. It was fantastic to have that kind of creative freedom and I feel incredibly lucky to have had that opportunity. I was able to finally create my stained fruit windows, something I've been imagining and working on in my head for many many years. I was able to experiment with different coatings and textures, slice thickness and transparency to best preserve the beauty of the sliced fruit. I spent day after day in the kitchen testing gluten free meal-worm flour bread amongst other insect delights. This was really an important experience for me due to my issues with factory farms and its effects on the environment but still feeling my bodies need for animal protein to perform.
Once I felt comfortable with my results in the kitchen, I decided to explore the rest of the workshop at Autodesk / Instructables.
Let me start by saying Holy $hit is that shop incredible. There are classes that are required to be able to use any one piece of equipment from the 3D printers to the drill. There were tools in the metal shop that I knew how to use but was unable to because I didn't take the class or get signed off. I recommend that any new AIR be realistic in what they want to use and take those classes right away. If you need a hole drilled and you aren't signed off on the drill, just ask someone who is signed off, they'll drill that hole for you because it's that kind of place. Time goes fast and if there is something you want to learn, go for it because when are you going to have that opportunity again? All the instructors are great and willing to answer all your crazy questions. A special thanks to Gabe for helping me so many times with all my computer questions and when the laser cutter doesn't feel like cooperating. (I did mention I'm computer Illiterate right?)
On that note, I have learned soooooo much here and though I still feel that computers are generally going to shut down when I touch them, I have learned how to create an image and laser cut that image. I started with leather and made a few water bottle sheaths, dog collars, a leather necklace and a beautiful bag. Now I'm working with wood and the detail is pretty incredible. I dabbled in the 3D software world and learned a little with Fusion 360 but I wasn't willing to take my precious residency time to learn it. But I do plan on pursuing that education. It's interesting to me and important for the way the world is going which I'm still trying to wrap my head around being a very old school DIY hand made kind of gal.
I really cherished my time as an Artist in Residence at Instructables. Honestly, when I was there, I never wanted to leave and would stay into the wee hours. The people are very kind and its like a large quirky family. I've never worked anywhere where employees voluntarily and enjoyably come in on the weekend to work. By the time my residency was over, I think there were forty-five Airs. So many interesting and creative people.
What an amazing idea this is. What an amazing opportunity for growth this program has given so many people. A truly beautiful gift that I am forever grateful for. Thank you to all the people in the foreground who help us on a daily basis and form this place and for those behind the scenes that make it possible. Thank you, you are so appreciated.