Building Robots at The Festival of Making

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Last Sunday I travelled up to Blackburn to participate in the first ever National Festival of Making, organised by Hemingway Design and Decopublique. The festival took over Blackburn town centre for two days of creative making fun celebrating the town’s long manufacturing history.

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It was a beautiful sunny calm day so the organisers gave me a spot outside the spectacular Blackburn Town hall to run robot building all day. Having had a challenging time doing outdoor robot building on a windy day at the Playbox in Leeds a few weeks before I was a bit worried, but it proved to be as calm as the organisers promised and it was amazing to be making in the bright sunlight right in the buzz of Blackburn town centre.

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Despite it’s slightly chaotic appearance the booth seemed to attract a good number of people who were passing and all the chairs were nearly always filled. (Based on paper cup consumption over 150 robots got made). It was my first time in Blackburn and it was fantastic to have a chance to meet so many people.

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As the festival emphasises, making culture does indeed run deep in Blackburn and I was blown away with the quality of the robots that people made.

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There was incredible use of colour.

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Fantastic character design.

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Great work with texture, both applied…

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and drawn on.

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It was also wonderful to see how the robots made by some participants and left at the booth influenced what subsequent people made. It was almost like a distinctly Blackburn robot making culture was establishing itself throughout the day.

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There was also some really strong engineering going on. Many participants made robots that moved in very pleasing ways…

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and one even made the horse, which is the most difficult robot in the Inventors Guide.

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The best Sumo Bot I’ve ever seen also got built. This beast of a machine tracked perfectly straight effortlessly pushing everything in front of it out of it’s way.

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All in all I had a brilliant day and I think so did the people who came to build robots. Thank you to the Festival of Making and the people of Blackburn for making me feel so welcome. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.


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