Sheffield, 31 August 2016

Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Gleemote, 1929. Stanley Dixon Collection, thanks to Gill Dixon. Photo: Angus McBean.

Maker Assembly is coming to Sheffield this August. We bring people together to have a critical conversation about the cultures of making 1 – its meaning, politics, history and future. We encourage everyone to participate by combining short talks with contributions from the attendees. Maker Assembly is peer-to-peer, informal and conversational.

Update – September 2016: Thanks to everyone who came along; it was a great event, and we enjoyed meeting and talking with so many interesting makers. You can see some pictures from the day, kindly taken by Dan Sumption, over on Flickr.


Akiko Kobayashi, architect and now facilitator of community-led building projects. She works with groups to communicate their vision and gain practical skills, and also has hands-on construction experience, most recently as part of the Tiree Noust Boathouse and Wikihouse v4.2 live build projects.

Annebella Pollen, author of Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, a beautiful book on the esoteric mid-war group of pacifists and woodcrafters, who set out to create a revolutionary movement through craft, propaganda, ritual and outdoor living.

Clementine Blakemore, an architectural designer whose practice focuses on the relationship between design, production and place. Alongside a position as Designer in Residence at the Design Museum, and teaching at the AA School of Architecture, she is currently working on a range of small-scale projects in the UK.

Heather Corcoran, a curator and cultural producer with a specialism in art, design and technology. She leads outreach for Kickstarter in the UK and Europe, with a focus on the design & technology communities. Previously, she was Executive Director of Rhizome, the influential digital art nonprofit based at the New Museum, New York.

Huw Wahl, who recently made a film about Action Space, the radical artists’ group that operated in London and Sheffield in the 1960s and ’70s, and set out to champion the role of creative experience in the transformation of society, becoming famous for their giant inflatable structures.

Jon Flint, a designer at Anglo-Indian design practice, Superflux. He has worked on a variety of projects around drones, air quality and Graphene. He has an interest in the public perception of new technologies, trying to understand perspectives through hands-on workshops or inventive methods.

Liam Healy, from the collaborative art and design group Design unlikely futures, which emerged from Goldsmiths via the Calais ‘Jungle’ while the members worked as volunteer builders in the camp. Their aim is to collaboratively design alternative futures for capturing the social, political and physical fabric of the site, and to document the camp as a space, a community, and a population locked in transit.

Sarah Corbett, the founder of Craftivist Collective, a global social enterprise using craft a tool for slow, gentle & intriguing activism.

Tom Tobia, developer of products, spaces and businesses that encourage people to make things, not least Makerversity, the makers’ coworking incubator.


The current schedule, subject to change is:

09.30Arrival, registration, refreshments
10.00Session 1 – Activism: From historical maker movements to the present day, how has craft and making been used as a tool to promote change?
12.00Lunch and lunchtime workshop
13.30Session 2 – Consequence: What can we do to make an impact in the world beyond ourselves as makers? How can making operate in the worlds of art, business and design?
16.00Session 3 – Home: How can people use making on the largest scale to take control of their communities? How does building together change our relationships to each other?
17.30Finish sessions, and retreat to the Roco bar and roof terrace for those who want to continue the conversation


We’ll be holding Maker Assembly in the beautiful new Roco Creative Co-op, with its friendly event space, well-stocked bar, deleicious food and always-sunny roof terrace. This event coincides with the launch of their new maker space, providing the kit and tools for designers and makers to prototype and test their ideas and micro-manufacture their products.


Thanks to support from Comino Foundation, ticket prices are heavily subsidised. Your ticket also includes a communal lunch and refreshments during the day.

Eventbrite - Maker Assembly Sheffield August 2016

Footnote: What do we mean by “making”?
We’re talking about people who craft, design, manufacture, tinker with, engineer, fabricate, and repair physical things. Art, craft, electronics, textiles, products, robots. Hi-tech and low-tech, amateur and professional, young and old, with digital tools or by hand. Historical perspectives, what’s happening here and now, and how things might change in the future. We aim to be diverse and inclusive. If what you make, or how you see yourself, is a little bit on the fringes, you’re doubly welcome. (←Back)

Maker Assembly Sheffield — Save the Date

We now have a confirmed date for our next event in Sheffield: Wednesday 31st August 2016. Mark it in your diaries now!

We also have a great venue, thanks to our friends at Roco, with a beautiful and friendly events space, outdoor courtyard and café bar (see pics below).

We are planning the event now; if you’re interested in speaking, please get in touch. You can find out some of the ideas we’re interested in by looking at the follow-up from our planning meetup in April, or checking out our London or Belfast events.

Sign up to our mailing list or follow us on Twitter for updates.



Follow-up from our Sheffield meetup

Photo by Tamar Millen
Photo by Tamar Millen

On Wednesday 20 April, we gathered in the bar of the Roco in Sheffield to talk about what a Maker Assembly in Sheffield could look like. Here are my notes from the event. If you’d like to make suggestions for the event, comments are open on this post, so please add your thoughts below.

I said I’d follow up with some theme ideas that seemed to come out of the sessions. It’s impossible to capture or synthesise everyone’s ideas, but hopefully this will include something of interest to most of you.


Current planned date, still TBC, is Wednesday 31st August. Please pencil it in.


Do you have something to share about the topic below. If so, let us know


1. Scaling up, sustainability, economic impact

Questions about a ‘maker city’. Does it maker sense for Sheffield to brand itself based on its past?
Moving from being a small-scale maker to a larger scale manufacturer, running a maker business.
Local, national, international impact. Is bigger better?

2. Amateurism

(Maybe the opposite agenda to the above)
Should we resist the path of the ‘hardware startup’, the urge to turn everything into economic activity, jobs, etc.
The importance of free experimentation vs prescribed work
Innovation is not equivalent to ‘new products’ but ‘new thinking’
How can we learn from the failings of previous tech movements (especially the web, and Silicon Valley utopianism)

3. Diversity

In people, their experience, what they make.
In gender, ethnicity, sexuality, physical or social needs
Self-identifying as a maker, or not

4. Alternative his/herstories

C-base mythology (and other self-authored maker myths?)
The O’Reilly brand of Maker (TM)

5. Performance

Music (who was the accordian player mentioned?)
A making performance

6. Some other topics which we mentioned, but only briefly

Hi-tech/lowtech/trailing edge tech
Open Source
Adaptive design/prosthetics/hacking the body
Education, and engagement (new makers). I feel this is more the territory of STEM groups and/or Maker Faire.

Other agendas

Some things came up which we might be able to address through activities, stalls or other features at the event:

1. Connecting up

Attending and talking to others is a good start, but maybe we could have a ‘would like to meet’ wall at the event, or a ‘I can give/I can get’ noticeboard, or some other way of surfacing connections. Lightning talks (3 mins to say what you do and don’t do) – but we would need to be careful this doesn’t become a ‘me and my cool project showcase).
If you’re interested in helping facilitate this, please get in touch.

2. Diversity of attendees

A lot of people don’t use twitter, or don’t identify as makers, or just don’t feel like this event could be for them. We need help communicating about the event to more diverse communities, and figuring out how to reach them. We may need help designing the event format so people with different needs can enjoy it. If you can help with this, please get in touch.
Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their ideas.

Belfast, March 2016

Our friends at Farset Labs in Belfast organised a Maker Assembly there on 16th March 2016. More event details at their site:

Maker Assembly Belfast
Maker Assembly Belfast

Session 1: Making & Peace Building

Kicking off Maker Assembly NI is a session about the politics and nuances of community-facing digital fabrication projects. It will look at how maker cultures are emerging at the grassroots and how local organisations are contributing to the peace-building project currently underway in Northern Ireland. It hopes to reveal how the idea of ‘critical making’ can be adjusted to suit the specificities of different contexts.


  • Adam Wallace & Eamon Durey, Fab Labs NI
  • John Peto, Nerve Centre

Session 2: Speculative Making: New Contexts and Futures

As the idea of digital making beds down—and practices become more visible and accessible—what new trajectories are emerging and how are speculative futures being framed? This session hopes to reveal the supports we might need to maintain a critical forecast of making and maker culture.


  • Nora O’Murchu, University of Limerick
  • Kat Braybrooke, University of Sussex

Session 3: Governance, Sustainability & Maker Networks

How are maker networks nurtured and sustained? And how ‘critical’ are the governance strategies of the physical spaces and networked platforms that mediate maker networks?

This session hopes to somewhat unravel the entanglements of people, places, and things, to better understand how maker culture is being facilitated.


  • Javier Burón, Fab Lab Limerick & University of Limerick
  • Hannah Stewart, Royal College of Art, Future Makerspaces Project

Session 4: Critics of the world, create!

Final session was a making exercise, inspired by the Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s (2012) Creative Media Manifesto and Garnet Hertz’s Critical Making zine series.


Our thanks to Andre Bolster, Pip Shea and all at Farset Labs for putting on a great event. If you’re interested in holding a Maker Assembly in your makerspace, library or other institution, please get in touch.

Book table at Maker Assembly
Book table at Maker Assembly Belfast