Good Times at the Market

We went out to the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market again today and had a great time!

Our new project this week was the Boo-gly eyes made from LEDs and ping pong balls (thanks to Everyday with Rachael Ray for the inspiration). 

scary halloween eyes made from ping pong balls and LEDs
Make these scary eyeballs from ping pong balls and LEDs

The stomp rockets were once again a big hit with the kids, but it seems we need to find a convenient bellows-action hook-up for re-inflating the launch pod (pop bottle).

The tool drive continued with a few more donations coming in. If you are interested in donating any hand tools to the tool drive contact us. 

Despite the early-morning rain the sun came out and the market enjoyed a glorious fall morning. 

We plan on being at the last few markets of the season, which is until the end of October. 

We hope to see you there!

Fire and Rockets at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

Well, despite the rain and autumnal-bluster of last Saturday we had a great time at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market.

New Toronto Makeshore booth at Sam Smith Farmers' Market
New Toronto Makeshore at Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

The late addition of the wood gas can/hobo stove was a happy surprise in the cool, rainy morning weather. It is truly amazing how many people are attracted by the smell of wood smoke. And, tending the wee fire-in-a-can was a happy chore for many of the kids who were at the market for the morning. Nothing quite as freeing as open flame and sharp tools to get kids engaged. Thanks to everyone for taking care no one got cut; the booth was warm and inviting all through the misty, moisty morning.

The stomp rocket kits also turned out to be a too-engaging-to-leave-alone toy. The kids played with it until the 2L pop bottle finally bust its under-carriage out; next time we’ll have a few more bottles on-hand.

Making the stomp rocket kit is actually really easy, and the parts can all be acquired for a minimal amount of money. This model uses a 1/2″ diameter hose secured to a hose end-fitting, which was bought at a garden supply store. The hose then fits into a conduit elbow and then into a housing for electrical connectors. Finally, a 1/2″ diameter pipe serves as the launch base; the file folder rockets just slide over the end and are shot off in whichever direction the pipe is pointed.

If you want an easy way how-to-build-a-file-folder-rocket, just grab an old file folder and make a tube that is only slightly larger than the 1/2″ pipe diameter. Tape along the seam to secure the body of the rocket. Add some tape criss-cross fashion over one end to create a top. This is important because this part is what gives the rocket lift-off; if the top is not secure the rocket won’t rise.

This is a super-fun activity for kids because the launch base is cheap and easy to assemble–duct tape over the launcher’s joint fittings will dramatically improve velocity–and the rockets are super-easy to make in less than five minutes. We used some old file folders (what better way to jettison the carapace of tax files than with the stomp of a youngster?!?) and duct tape to make a sturdy and mostly-rain-proof rocket. A firm stomp from a 6 year old child on a 2L bottle sent the rockets 20-30′ in the air. Many shrieks of excitement were heard; much running-about and shenanigans were witnessed.

The can stove was the real surprise hit. This particular get-up has been used for about five years and although it looks like a real tetanus magnet, when handled carefully it is a sturdy and dependable source of cheery heat.

wood gas stove, rusted
Several years old this little stove still pumps out an impressive volume of heat.

 

This model has been locally dubbed the 3-minute stove because it needs some fuel every three minutes or so. However with a steady diet of twigs or small pieces of wood (e.g., a split-up 2×4 piece no longer than 2-3″ [ ~10 cm]) the stove can pump out a ferocious little fire for hours. Once we got it going the stove lasted the entire market long and it gave some of the market kids a chance to practice their camp-craft skills by keeping it going through the rain and the wind. Saws, axes, and fire–what more could kids in the rain want?

Drills.

We also made a cell phone microscope kit, which was right easy when you know what part of the laser pointer to MacGyver. [N.B. Neither duct tape nor bubble gum were needed in this activity.]

These kits are easy to set up with a drill, drill bits, some bolts and nuts (wing nuts and washers are a double-big-plus) and the scavenged lens from the laser pointer. Even the younger kids used the drill to make the pilot holes (with proper parental approval, of course).

cell phone microscope made from wood, acrylic, nuts and bolts, and a laser pointer lens.
This simple cell phone microscope is easy to build and super fun to use.

The tool kits were also popular–both with patrons and with kids interested in using rasp files. Although we didn’t bring in too many tools, some of the kits went out the door and the kit we built on-site was made better by some sweat equity from one of the Market youth to even out a few of the corners.

Artisanal Tent Pegs

On a recent camping trip, some of our younger makers thought up a fancy way to help secure the campsite: hand-carved tent pegs!

Large and small, these tent pegs are sure to fasten down tents, tarps, or guy lines.

Freshly on site, Ryan, Jillian, and Nora set-to crafting these every day camping necessities. Each maker paid close attention to incorporating small-but-important details like a smooth feel, bark-less entry points, lashing chevrons (also known as the crook of the branch), and hammer faces.

It was interesting finding the sticks,” said Ryan. “There were a bunch of cuts that the stick had to go through” to make a successful tent peg. He was able to turn out a respectable four pegs alone.

Jillian’s approach was to add a cool purple cord with some fancy knot work.

Nora took a slightly different approach to her tent pegs. “I looked for small but thick sticks when choosing a branch; too thick and they are really difficult to carve, but too thin and there’s nothing to whittle.”

In order to make these artisanal tent pegs yourself, here are some of the key tips from our makers to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to have a safe, sharp blade that locks – jackknives that have folding blades can result in unexpected but nasty surprises;
  • Choose wood that is a) not in poison ivy, b) thick and long enough to be carve-able, and c) not too wet so that you can’t whittle it;
  • Look for tree branches, for example, ones that are heavy enough so that it could actually support the tent!