Ada Lovelace Day 2013 (by )

Ada Lovelace Day is a celebration of women in technology and science - it was started a few years ago by the lovely Suw, and me and Al have taken part in it every year so far! One day we might even make it to London for some of the talks and things that happen (this year they even had Neil Gaiman though we saw him at the weekend anyway but still!) - sadly (or happily) I have college this week so that was another year of no Ada events boo hiss.

This year we have chosen the designer of... Sugru!

Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh - she is an extra special inspiration to me, as not only has she had the idea for and then developed and sold sugru, a funky silicon rubber you can fix things or improve things with, but she shows that art and science together can drive innovation to make the world better! (I've already blogged about that here).

The story goes that she had the idea whilst doing her MA in design production in London, the first attempts were smelly and ugly and then they weren't but they didn't stick to enough things. She knew what she wanted it to do and she teamed up with scientists but didn't just hand the job over.

Alaric told me about the sugru before you could actually buy the stuff - I was sad as I was being told that I was never going to achieve anything being a scientific artist or artistic scientist, his words were something like, 'but there's this new stuff that's amazing sort of like air dry putty but is still flexible and strong and stuff and it was invented by an artist who knew wanted a substance that didn't exist for her designs so she went and learnt about the chemistry of rubber and silicon!'

The story of sugru and the company built up around it is fascinating and can be found here.

It is not just about the sugru or the science behind it - it is about determination and following your dream, of keeping going even when it looks like you are set to fail. They have run out of money and risen from the ashes. Their mottos are 'The Future Needs Fixing' and 'Hack Things Better' which goes straight back to Jane's core idea - she didn't want to keep buying new things all the time - she wanted to fix the broken things or upgrade what she already had. This is perfect for upcyclers and reusing recyclers like me and Alaric and as it turns out many many other people.

She has given the world a new way to make things, to fix things! It is technology and engineering, it is art and science and it is wonderful.

The word sugru means to play - it is a corruption of an irish word and we have taken it at its base meaning - so far we have made/fixed:

Purely arty objects:

My first sugru project of a flower and metal bracelet

Little creatures for the visually impaired and blind to touch and explore

Fixed things:

knives with manky split handles

Broken mugs that have sentimental value as our little ones have decorated them

The sink - in several ways!

Made things better:

My crutches needed a bit of handle alteration to stop my little finger going numb when I used them

Little feet on phones and lap tops to stop them over heating

Decorations for boring welly slippers (this came out of a failed project to fix shoes with the stuff)

Improved the hooks in the kitchen so things don't fall off anymore

Embedded electronics into head dresses

Embedded magnets onto things like our phones so they are easily mountable in the car

And these are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head!

It has been to the poles, to the desert, under the sea and even in space!

So thankyou Jane for being an inspiration and our Ada Lovelace Day hero of 2013 🙂

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