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Bibliocircuitry Project: Baking/Feeling INLS 690 MAKERSPACE, Fall 2020

For my project, I focused on my mother's baking practice. My mom, Laima, is a long time baker, beginning her practice in middle school. While baking is personally fulfilling for her, she actively provides her skills for others. For friends, she has baked wedding cakes, birthday tarts, halloween treats, and other celebratory confections. She has also wielded her practice in the workplace, baking muffins and scones as a part of her daily duties for a restaurant she managed. Beyond the fact that she made delicious food, her creations touched others on a personal level. I grew up with strangers, upon recognizing that I was Laima's daughter, delightedly telling me how much they loved my mom's berry scones or recounting how my mom made the most delicious lemon meringues and if she could please bake more for their next party.

For Laima, baking has always been about how it makes her feel; the mediative quality of following step-by-step instructions, the comforts of understanding the process from years of baking the same goods, the pride of the final creation, and the joy when she shares it with others. However, her heritage tinged these positive feelings. Growing up as a first-generation American woman of Lithuanian parents, Laima was taught traditional methods of sewing, gardening, and cooking and baking by the matriarchs in her family. Her community believed that these skills were expected of women as it made them desirable wives. Understanding that part of her worth was tied to her kitchen skills, the joy she found in her practice was complicated by her growing perception of the gendering of these tasks. Even though she appreciated the connection to her culture, she understood that, on some level, the positive feedback received from her creations pushed her further into the "wife material" category.

Emotions have always been heavily embedded in Laima's baking practice, reflected in both herself and the recipient of her work. This project takes away the familiarity of a traditional baking book and makes visible the emotional components hidden within the baking process. The book utilizes makerspace technology to reimagine baking through Laima's affective progressions. The video below walks through how to explore the book and the technology used is further explored down the page.

3D Printed Stamp

As you open the book to the first dog-eared page, you are confronted with a 3D printed stamp hidden within a cavity of carved out pages. There is a stamp pad next to the book.

The stamp proclaims "DONE!". It is to be stamped onto the page of every baking step that follows upon completion of the step. The physical element of stamping as well as the positive reinforcement of the word "DONE!" represent the comfort Laima receives through repetitive baking. Visually, as the stamps fill up the pages, you can see how many times you have executed the steps, adding to your confidence in the process. As the muscle memory grows, the stamps will obliterate the page, erasing the need for steps.

Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

There are several items around the book, mise en place, connected to the Circuit Playground Express via alligator clip wires.

As you flip through the book, you go through four simplified baking steps. The steps are simple because, like Laima, you already understand baking procedure from doing it for so long. Each step is related to an object around the book. As you touch the object (taking care to touch the copper tape to activate the micro-controller) the Circuit Playground Express plays a happy melody and sparkles. This technology represents the joyful emotions of baking. However, one step activates the micro-controller to play the Lithuanian national anthem, Lietuva, Tėvyne Mūsų, and flash the colors of the Lithuanian flag, geltona (yellow), Žalia (green), raudona (red). In this way, Laima's feelings towards her heritage punctuate the mood.

Paper Art Pop-Up

After completing the last baking step, the final page opens up to a hidden, large, paper art pop-up. It is formed of layered newspaper clippings of recipes and handwritten baking instructions. The pop-up represents the immense burst of pride that accompanies finishing the baking process. Sharing your creations through gifting the final product and passing on the recipe are both interpreted through the playful pop-up.

Final Thoughts

I believe my mother to be a maker. However, she falls outside of the mainstream maker movement. Following the timeline given by Make: Community, the term “maker” was first coined in Make: magazine, a magazine focused on STEM creations and innovation in 2005 (2020). Makerspaces, Fablabs, and hakerspaces are known for their tech, such as inexpensive computers like Raspberry Pi and 3D printers. Due to this constructed idea of "makerspace", makerspaces are preceded by the white, male, tech-bro narrative. Women are underrepresented in the STEM field as well as makerspaces and further excluded through being forced to navigate the environment of toxic masculinity inherent in these spaces (Sanchez, Dolan-Sanchez, & Lázaro, p. 32, 2020).

In order to create a culture of inclusion, makerspaces need to be critical redefined. To examine who gets to make and what gets made in makerspaces, Sanchez, Dolan-Sanchez, and Lázaro interviewed women of color involved in a makerspace at the University of Arizona and found that, beyond the challenges of sexism and racism, interviewees noted that there was a need for art and more traditionally feminine crafts to promote inclusion. Educators like Linda Le and Dora Medrano Ramos are actively reinventing makerspaces. Through highlighting ways of knowledge expressed in communities of color in their curriculum, such as cooking, music making, and storytelling, Le and Ramos validate diverse ways of making and enforce greater inclusion in their makerspace courses (2020).

My questions to the makerspace community are: What would it look like if we introduced baking technology, like an oven or an electric mixer into a makerspace? Can we hold baking classes in the makerspace? Would this prioritize different ways of knowledge outside of STEM? Can we create space for cultural traditions in this way? Are we recognizing the emotional component of making?

References:

  1. Le, L. & Medrano Ramos, D. (2020, May 8). From the Creators of Learning in the Making: Live! Maker Ed. https://makered.org/blog/from-the-creators-of-learning-in-the-making-live/
  2. Make: Community. (2020). Maker Movement: The Rise of the Movement. https://make.co/maker-movement/?_ga=2.189240939.117641064.1565500613-182022186.1564430009
  3. Sanchez, A., Dolan-Sanchez, D., & Lázaro, V. (2020). Who Belongs in the Makerspace? Experiences of Women of Color in an Academic Library Makerspace. In Melo, M. & Nichols, J. (Eds.), Re-Making the Library Makerspace: Critical Theories, Reflections, and Practices (pp. 27-45). Library Juice Press.
Created By
Lulu Zilinskas
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