Origami, 3D printing capture creativity at Santa Maria library's makerspace program

Origami, 3D printing capture creativity at Santa Maria library's makerspace program


Veteran origami artist Wilma Alvarez meticulously folded the green paper she was making into a stem for the flower she was making.

"I've been to these before," said the 12-year-old Tommie Kunst Junior High School seventh-grader at Santa Maria Public Library's makerspace program on Saturday. "I like origami art, the things you can do with it."

With her father and sister Jaylin, 3, Wilma was one of more than a dozen participants, both children and adults, at the five-hour session from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Edwin and Jeanne Woods Learning Center.

"The word 'makerspace' means different things to different people, but it's basically a physical space where people can be creating and tinker with things," said Dawn Jackson, Librarian III.

"It encourages creativity and critical thinking, things our society is moving away from," she said. "It's a movement that has been going on in libraries for a while, and now it's taking place in academics."

A program has been added on Wednesday that runs from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Learning Center. Both programs are do-it-yourself, with instructors on-site to assist.

"Wednesday and Saturday sessions are free to the public, and they will take place indefinitely," Jackson said.

"The Wednesday program is designed to give participants a base before they come to the Saturday sessions. But you don't have to come on Wednesdays to come to the Saturday programs."

Funding is provided through a grant from the California Community College Chancellor's office in partnership with Hancock College.

During the first two hours Saturday, attendees took part in origami and 3D printer projects. 

"Origami seems to be doing well today," said Selena Fierro, Librarian II, who provided assistance.

Participants could also visit an internet site on one of the center's computers, choose an object and then see it physically designed on a 3D printer.

After the object cooled, it could be taken home.

"Different projects are popular on different days," Fierro said. "Last week, sewing was so popular we ran out of the bags we use for silkscreen printing."

Crochet, digital cameras and digital image editing are also listed as part of the makerspace program. 

Sister and brother Mariluz Martinez, 8, and Elmer Martinez, 12, were into different Saturday projects.

"I'm making a little house for my little toy bear" with origami, said Mariluz, who also has been to the program before.

Meanwhile, Elmer was waiting for the printer to warm up, so he could watch it create his 3D rose.

Jesus Hernandez was helping his daughter, Kaylie, 8, with an origami project.

"This is my first time here," he said. "It just seemed like a good father-daughter event to go to."

Ruby Jo Mahr and Gianna Mason, both 6, attended with Ruby Jo's mother Laurie Mahr.

"You're going to turn the paper over so there's no fold," Ruby Jo instructed Gianna as the two worked on their origami artwork.

Then it was time to see a printout of the Christmas tree with stars design they had chosen on the Thingiverse website.

The printers, however, were having an uncharacteristically off day, said library technician Jose Gaytan, who had to tape an "out of order" sign on one; then another with blue filament material, which started to design the stars on the Christmas tree properly, malfunctioned.

"All of our [computer] programs were working last week," he said.

Gaytan eventually was able to get a small test design he picked out to work on one printer after changing the filament.

Meanwhile, Fierro switched the girls' Christmas tree with stars design to work on a machine with black filament, and eventually three perfectly shaped stars inside an outline of a Christmas tree emerged.

This story has been updated with new information about Wednesday hours for the makerspace program. 


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