Meet the Maker: Chanchala Ariyaratne

In the first of our ‘Meet the Maker’ previews, we talk to steampunk jewellery maker and general tinkerer, Chanchala Ariyaratne. Chanchala and her husband Rob will bring a new project, Irregular As Clockwork, to Brighton Mini Maker Faire 2013.

What kind of maker are you?
We’re two makers – Rob (my husband) & Chanchala (me!). We love making fun stuff and love to spend our free time (which is very limited) making interesting and quirky things! I run a small craft business through which I sell my handmade jewellery, accessories & homewares (very Steampunk inspired & incorporating broken & upcycled materials). Rob has very little time for making but he’s made some crazy robots and we’ve been inspired by previous Mini Maker Faires, and been lucky enough to participate as Makers.

I’m basically the kind of Maker who would take my Dremel on holiday with me if it fitted in my suitcase. Rob’s making mostly involves computer modeling and programming, so it’s a little more portable!

What project or workshop are you bringing to this year’s Faire?
Our project this year is ‘Irregular as Clockwork’. I make clockwork (Steampunk-inspired) jewellery and Rob’s always wanted to make a clock from scratch. So we decided to take the leap and have a go at making our own home-made clock and our project relates to our attempts.

Have you been to a Maker Faire before, and if so, what was it like?
We’ve been to the last two Brighton Maker Faires. The first as visitors and last year as Makers. We found it to be buzzing with energy and inspiring. As Makers last year, I ran an Etch-a-Sketch project and Rob had a robotic arm playing a Xylophone and a computer you could play 4-in-a-row with. I loved meeting so many people on the day and inspiring them to try out some simple copper etching at home. I’ve kept in contact with many of them. It was one of the best (and most satisfyingly tiring!) days of 2012!

What can people do at your stand? How can they get involved?
We will have the workings of a mechanical clock which we have designed and 3D printed. The whole project is about the inner workings of clockwork – there will be a computer simulator for you to play with and learn a little of the basics behind the fascinating “clockwork”. As not everyone has a 3D printer or the time to make their own clock from scratch, I’m also hoping to inspire them to make desk/wall clocks using simple and readily available Quartz movements.

What is the main thing you’d like people to learn from you at Maker Faire?
I’d love them to catch our passion for making and hopefully to start appreciating the workmanship and skill that went into those wonderful antique clocks out there.

Is it something they will be able to keep doing at home afterwards?
Certainly! The 3-D printing may have to be done through an online 3rd party but they could take away the principles and have a go at making their own mechanical clock. They can certainly make the Quartz movement clocks which I will demo how to make.

Can the maker culture change the world?
In a world full of mass produced stuff that is mostly unnecessary, it’s great to take time out and make something from scratch and realise both the joy in it and the quality that is achievable, especially if you’re willing to learn and persevere. I think in general we’re returning to an appreciation of ‘handmade’ and Artisan skills which were a little over-looked in the last few decades. This is particularly evident with the success of sites like Etsy and Folksy – both communities I’m proud to be a part of.

What are you most looking forward to about the Faire?
Playing with and learning from all of the other projects when we get some free time from our own!

Where/how can people find out more about you?
My website is www.chanchala.co.uk and you can also follow me on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter

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Chanchala and Rob will be showing their project on Saturday 7th September in the Corn Exchange. Book your tickets in advance at: http://www.makerfairebrighton.com/tickets/

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