Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

Overview

From his unique vantage point as editor in chief of Make magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes listeners on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal-powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.

DIY is a direct ...

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Overview

From his unique vantage point as editor in chief of Make magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes listeners on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal-powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.

DIY is a direct reflection of our basic human desire to invent and improve, long suppressed by the availability of cheap, mass-produced products that have drowned us in bland convenience and cultivated our most wasteful habits. Frauenfelder spent a year trying a variety of offbeat projects, such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his daughters in the garage. His whole family found that DIY helped them take control of their lives, offering a path that was simple, direct, and clear. Working with their hands and minds helped them feel more engaged with the world around them.

Frauenfelder reveals how DIY is changing our culture for the better. He profiles fascinating "alpha makers" leading various DIY movements and grills them for their best tips and insights.

Beginning his journey with hands as smooth as those of a typical geek, Frauenfelder offers a unique perspective on how earning a few calluses can be far more rewarding and satisfying than another trip to the mall.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A utilitarian motivational booster for DIYers." —-Kirkus
Publishers Weekly
In this overwrought ode to doing it yourself, Make magazine editor Frauenfelder attempts to “forge a deeper connection and a more rewarding sense of involvement with the world” by making more of the things his family uses and eats. His DIY projects are varied—organic gardening, building a chicken coop, constructing cigar-box guitars, keeping bees, tutoring his daughter—and not uniformly successful: chickens get devoured by a coyote; the bees subsist on sugar-water handouts; his daughter fails the big math test. (Not to worry, he insists, since accepting mistakes is foundational to the DIY ethos.) Frauenfelder’s hand-making procedurals are engaging, but, for him, practicality takes a back seat to spirituality, to living authentically, to grokking “the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, the beauty found in an object’s imperfections.” He often presents DIY as a form of therapy: spoon-whittling isn’t about spoons, it’s about “the calming and focusing effect of spoon-whittling.” (And like most therapies, these projects often require lots of disposable income—a thousand dollars for a load of mulch!—and spare time.) People have hobbies because they are interesting and fun; by inflating hobbyism into a belief system, Frauenfelder doesn’t add much to their appeal. (June)
Library Journal
Author Frauenfelder (editor in chief, Make magazine; cofounder, boingboing.net) takes listeners on a fascinating journey into the vibrant and currently hot world of do it yourself (DIY). Frustrated with today's throwaway culture and driven by his innate desire to invent and improve, Frauenfelder and his family embarked on a yearlong journey during which he tried his hand at DIY projects including organic gardening, constructing cigar-box guitars, keeping bees, and tutoring his daughter. Here, he tells of these varyingly successful endeavors, offering as a foundation to the DIY ethos heartfelt acceptance of one's mistakes and finding beauty in imperfection. Actor/musician/comedian Kirby Heyborne's slow-paced, earnest reading nicely suits the material, which is rooted in the 1960s Whole Earth movement. For all DIYers. ["Frauenfelder offers an original perspective…and this title should appeal to a tech-savvy audience," read the review of the Portfolio hc, LJ 6/1/10.—Ed.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews
An amateur craftsman is inspired to tackle a laundry list of obscure projects. Hobbled by the dot.com bust, Frauenfelder and his wife began to think carefully about how to maximize their space and resources. A propitious if misguided move to a South Pacific island "paradise" proved short-lived, but their time there instilled a new perspective on working with their hands, the importance of down-time and how to utilize raw materials in new and beneficial ways. Frauenfelder's immensely popular gadget-centric blog (BoingBoing.net) garnered attention from a contemporary interested in launching a periodical focused on "how to make, modify, and repair things." Born in 2005 with Frauenfelder as its editor-in-chief, Make magazine highlighted enticing projects using "tested, step-by-step instructions." The author went a step further by incorporating DIY home-improvement concepts into their Southern California lifestyle and created a wish list of projects he hoped to accomplish. Frauenfelder wittily chronicles his varying degrees of success in making everything from fermented kombucha yogurt to a chicken coop. Replacing persistent Bermuda grass with mulch proved an exercise in patience, as did adventures in coffee, chickens and bee colonies, but the rewards were great after the author constructed several homemade multi-stringed guitars from cigar boxes, whittled wooden spoons and tutored his daughters. Throughout the narrative, a host of eclectic characters emerges, including 80-year-old Picasso lookalike Alfie; "Mister Jalopy," a secretive, brilliant tinkerer; a gay Tennessean who believes fermented foods keep his HIV infection in check; and two nonprofit organizers who assisted with the cultivation of the author's bountiful vegetable garden, one of his proudest achievements. Frauenfelder gained much self-confidence throughout his clunky experimentation, though he admits that along with everything else, "you have to live with the mistakes you make."A utilitarian motivational booster for DIYers. Agent: Byrd Leavell/Waxman Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400147816
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/7/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kirby Heyborne, an accomplished actor, musician, and comedian, has received a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards and has narrated such titles as Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, and The Genius by Jesse Kellerman.

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