I grew up at a time when toys were meant to inspire kids to be makers rather than consumers. Under the Christmas tree I'd be excited to open boxes containing an Etch-a-Sketch, weaving loom and macrame set. On Boxing Day, I'd set about making hats, belts, bags, pot plant hangers and more while my brother and sister would be absorbed creating things with their Playdough, Lego, Meccano and Spirograph. These days, the boxes are more likely to hold the promise of technology such as smartphones, tablets and other gaming devices.
Whilst technology may have replaced a lot of hands-on creative activities, there is a growing movement which is seeing people return to using their imaginations and hands to create things. This is being referred to as the "maker movement" and is made up of people who simply make things - from engineers to designers, craftspeople, electronics, artists and more.
Not only is making things satisfying and fun, it plays an important role in wiring the brain and development generally. Creating patterns and plans is a form of visualisation and this stimulates creativity. Executing them teaches persistence and patience and develops fine motor skills. This is important for kids who benefit from these skills and is beneficial for adults who need to be reminded!
There are lots of places opening up around Sydney which are focused on promoting the maker movement, one of these being Maker's Loft in Cammeray. Walking into Maker's Loft is like walking into a country cottage with its exposed brick walls, leather sofas, wooden tables and aroma of freshly brewed coffee and toast.
Supporting local makers, customers' eyes will be drawn to the big sideboard which displays quirky local art and craft for sale. At the time I visited, there were some wonderful and unique gift ideas including jewellery designed and made by local maker, Jillycan.
In a room hidden behind the cafe is a maker's mecca! The studio is a place where you can source a wide array of materials and create to your heart's delight.
For kids, Maker's Loft has a number of activities including their "Craftertainment" sessions which include story time and craft for preschoolers while you enjoy a quiet coffee and something sweet in the cafe.
Maker's Loft also holds regular workshops for kids and adults including textiles, recycled rags, cards, envelopes and wrap, felting, ornaments, yarn art and more crafts to inspire your imagination. Information on workshops can be found on the website.
There is no limit to what you can make and Maker's Loft will inspire your imagination
If you're looking for a party with a difference, Maker's Loft offers parties for any age where you can choose creative projects such as styling a mask, designing and making accessories, candle making, hand printing, doll making, memo board, sock toys, tote bags and lots more. It's a party where the guests will not only have fun but will also take home the fruits of their labour to remind them of how good making something can make you feel. More information about parties can be found on the website and party project menu.
Maker's Loft is about inspiring makers, artists and designers of the future. So, put down your iPhone and iPad and engage your brain with the iMake movement. You'll feel the fun at your fingertips but if you need more inspiration, take a look here!