Highlights From Adam Savage's Reddit "Ask Me Anything About Making"

By Kristen Lomasney

Fresh from his maker tour stop in Cleveland, Adam hung out in /r/maker on reddit for an AMAAM ("Ask Me Anything About Making"). Here are some of his best answers.

In case you missed it, Adam is just back from a trip to Cleveland, where he toured some of the city's amazing maker spaces. Excited to talk about what he saw, Adam (aka "mistersavage") went on reddit for an AMAAM ("Ask Me Anything About Making"), answering maker- and maker-space-related questions for 90 minutes.

We've gathered some of our favorite answers below; to read the full AMA, go here: https://redd.it/4hv3an

ghostonbody: I often get anxiety and low confidence, and feel doubt about the things I make. If you ever get similar feelings, how do you overcome them, or keep making things in spite of them? What is your advice for someone who loves to be creative but feels self conscious about the things she makes?

mistersavage: Oh my FSM all the freaking time. Dude (or dudette), just the day before yesterday we were shooting a one day build for Tested.com, and nothing that I did in the shop seemed to go right. I kept screwing up. Remaking things and then boning THAT. I swear to you, I finished the day feeling like I had NO business making things. It sucked. I was blue. This happens. To EVERYONE. And it's OK. Like all emotions, good and bad, it's temporary.

I did some good building yesterday and feel a little better. I plan to do more today. I know intellectually that my feeling like I'm an idiot at making is patently silly. That doesn't help in the moment, but in the long run my going easy on myself in that moment is what's important. I went home, had some tea, walked the dogs and talked to my wife and slowly things slid back to normal.

JeffH1980: I have been thinking of how to bring making into the program at our local Scout camp in the summer, with the idea of having kids be able to complete a project to take home at the end of a week at camp, and I was wondering, any suggestions of the types of projects that could be done with kids aged 11-16, relatively inexpensively? The total project time would ideally be 5 to 10 hours total.

mistersavage: Make suits of Armor out of cardboard. I capitalized Armor because I love it so much. Seriously, look up "suits of cardboard armor" on Google Image search and get inspired! Cheap, easy, fun, and EVERY culture has armor so you can choose your era, country, and type of armor!

The_Young_Scientist : What tool do you use most often?

mistersavage: A sharp knife. And a pencil.

1SweetChuck : When you talked about going to the Gates Foundation office, you mentioned that they had really good art. How do you know what is good art and what isn't? When I look at art, I can say, "I like this." or "I don't like this." But really I have no idea what good art is, and no good way to know whether something I made is "good" or not.

mistersavage: People who don't know much about art say, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like," and it's their way of distancing themselves from their (perceived) lack of expertise to being able to say what's good and what isn't. But the thing is, art is ONLY what you like. If something resonates with you it's good. The interaction is between you and the thing. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a book length diatribe about exactly this interaction. It gets wonderfully articulate on the subject.

Rjacques83: Who was your Adam Savage when you were growing up?

mistersavage: The Modelshop at ILM.

itakecrappyphotos : what do you recommend as a project for a broke college kid who doesn't have access to a workshop? Im interested in making a daft punk helmet, but don't really have the space needed for molding and casting.

mistersavage: Look into pepakura. Low cost of entry and low footprint.

166MM: In terms of your new project in cooperation with the White House, what is the overarching goal you hope to achieve? Additionally, what do you plan to do differently than prior making efforts from OSTP?

mistersavage: Good question! We all have the same goal: empower kids. Start the empowerment early. There are a lot of ways to do this. You know the phrase: "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well, making is my hammer. I think if everyone felt the innate drive to improve (by making and modifying) the world in front of them, and then (as a natural consequence) to look wider and broader about how they can contribute, the world would be a better place. I'm aware that the previous sentence is poorly constructed but I've only just finished my first cup of coffee and there's a lot of material to answer!

As for how I can specifically contribute, more than simply using my platform to increase the attention on this issue: I got a lot of great ideas in Cleveland, and I'm looking forward to the next city visit.

kulukudo: What is the biggest roadblock to the maker movement?

mistersavage: I have so many answers to this, but none I'm really qualified to give. I'm not avoiding the question, it's just that if I said something like "standardized, one-size-fits-all testing" etc, I'd want to be actually right than shooting from my hip.

Here's my thing: I know that making is the gateway drug to critical thinking, as I'm fond of saying. I'm not a policy expert, nor should I pretend to be. My wheelhouse is talking about why I think that inculcating kids early with an understanding that things don't always go according to plan is one of the most valuable ways to prepare them for life.