A Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, problem solver, maker and Judge on the recent series of BBC Robot Wars. Lucy’s an inventor and Founded the Guild of Makers. She has a PhD in Bubbles (Fluid Dynamics), a City in Guilds in Woodturning and a Cycling Proficiency Certificate.
Describe something that has recently amazed you and how it made you feel.
Seeing the full moon with my new glasses – I forgot that you could see such details without the use of binoculars / telescopes. Made me realise our bodies are fragile.
How would you personally define wonder, awe and curiosity? And how do they relate to each other?
Wonder – as in – that is wonderful, something humans have made that took a lot of skill / effort
Awe – That is so stunning I have no words. Usually in nature, e.g. a murmuration of starlings, a huge waterfall, a beautiful sunset.
Curiosity – how, what, why, when, who, where
What inspires you to be creative?
Being set a problem and trying to find the solution. Necessity is the mother of invention. And I need to find an answer as I have usually said “Yes, I can solve that for you”
Do you have any ‘rituals’ or an environment that aids your creativity?
Wandering through DIY shops for “stuff” and “parts”
What do you love about magic?
I dislike magic tricks. I do not like the feeling of having been tricked. I want to know how things are done. I don’t like secrets.
What do you think hinders an audience from experiencing wonder when watching a magician?
Trying to work out how it’s done.
Where do you think our sense of wonder comes from and what can we do to cultivate it?
Schools and many jobs dissuade us from challenging the status quo – so the curiosity we have as a child is often stamped out.
Tell me more about your career and what drove the changes? Have you always been a tinkerer/maker?
I trained as a mechanical Engineer, but sexism from people within the manufacturing industry made me leave. Since then I have had a portfolio career – now making and writing about making is the majority of my income.
My family make things – from spinning to woodwork, metalwork to embroidery. Making is such a integral part of my life that it was only recently that I realised I am a “maker” first and an “engineer” second. To me it’s like saying I’m 5’6″ or have blue eyes. It’s just part of what I am. But I’ve realised not everyone is encouraged to make or even know what a maker is. I aim to change that.
You describe yourself as a cheerleader for the Maker Industry. What has sparked the resurgence in interest in making? And what do you see the future looking like?
In the 70’s many people made stuff – but it was seen as “make do and mend” – you couldn’t afford a shop-bought item. It’s now seen as “bespoke” – and something to aspire to. With the internet, and particularly YouTube, people can teach themselves various skills, or find others near them with similar interests.
The stereotype of an “inventor” is of a retired man in a garden shed workshop. What can we do to promote more openness and diversity to anyone interested in making?
We could stop using the lazy shorthand of “an inventor is a retired man in a shed”.
What stood out for you? Any questions? Things you disagree with? Write a comment and join in the discussion.