Here at Boston Children’s Museum, we’re already busy getting ready for the Maker Faire – but in reality, it’s always Maker Season here.  Working at a Museum gives our whole team unique opportunities to create stuff – whether it’s a new exhibit prototype, an activity for a visiting school group, or even a – dinosaur-themed gown for an industry conference.   Yup, that happened.

Earlier this year, thanks in large part to the support of one of our Faire sponsors, Autodesk, we acquired an amazing new toy – a CO2 laser cutter.   Huzzah!  We cut wood.  We cut paper.   We can cardboard.   We cut plastic.  We even cut leather!   Because digital fabrication is emerging as a skill set we believe every child should have access to, our entire STEAM programs team here at the Museum is honing its skills with cool tools like this one.

Around the same time, we proudly cut the ribbon on a new dinosaur exhibit called Explore-a-saurus.  With a bit of help from our friends at Jaywalk Studio, we were able to offer visitors laser-cut, 3-D dinosaur puzzles to take home as a memento of their encounter with our new dinosaur friends.   This activity was an amazing conversation starter with both kids and adults, many of whom had heard of a laser cutter, but had never seen one in action.

So when I was asked to put together a Project Runway-style gown for a museum conference fashion show for a colleague – a gown that would represent at least one of our exhibits – naturally the challenge I set for myself was: it will be dinosaur themed, and it will involve the laser cutter.   Like many makers, I learn best by having a specific project for which I need to acquire new skills.

Several hours later, I’d become much cozier with Adobe Illustrator, I’d hot glued my fingers together, and I’d gone through a couple sewing machine needles, but I was a happy Maker.  And perhaps more importantly, I’d make the outfit entirely with things we already had around, instead of purchasing new materials.

Let me know what you think: