A Teacher’s Reflections on Maker Corps and Maker Faire Detroit

By Mary Foulke, Maker Corp Member, The Henry Ford


TheHenryFord_logo B&WHenry Ford next to Model T 1921 - From the Collections of The Henry Ford

“Whether you think you can or think

you can’t, either way you are right”


This famous quote, from Henry Ford, kept running through my mind this past weekend at Maker Faire Detroit.  In fact, it has continued to run through my mind as I ponder all of the sights, sounds and feelings that confronted me.  The whole atmosphere of Maker Faire was one of total involvement.  Every where you looked people who interacting with each other, talking, sharing, observing and perhaps most importantly learning by doing.  I have been working this summer as a Maker Corp member for The Henry Ford.  This has been one of the best summers of my life in the way that it has challenged my mind and even my beliefs about education and how people learn.


Mary Foulke MCM4At Maker Faire, I showed my craft of knitting, crocheting, felting and cross-stitch.  Probably one of the biggest compliments I received was that I saw people taking pictures of my work!  Knowing that someone thought my work was something that they wanted to remember was awesome!  I have been making for over 30 years.  It is a part of my life, like breathing.  I am always thinking about what I am going to make next.  Being a historian also, I research the history of my crafts and how they have progresses through the years.  I read books, look through magazines, talk with others, and check on-line, all to see what other people are doing and to get ideas.


I have been spending a lot of my summer researching the history of crafting as it relates to The Henry Ford, especially the village.  One of the questions I have been pondering is, “How can we interest people, especially the young, in the crafts that have been typically viewed for an older person to do?”   After observing the patrons, listening to the comments, I think I have come up with an idea!  I want to use E-textiles as a way to arouse interest.  I had mostly adults looking at my wares, but once I but the LED lights on my sheep and several other things, I began to get the younger generation to take notice.  They would pull their parents over and say, “Look, mom, that sheep has eyes!  How did you do that?”  They would pick up the sheep and start looking it over.  That gave me the chance to share what I was doing.  What an opportunity!  After observing this transition for several hours, my mind exploded with all of these ideas on how to get people interested in the art of making!  The answer to my problem was right in front of me all along:  tie in the art of knitting, crocheting, sewing, felting, etc., to 21st century skills.  In this case, E-textiles!


Mary Foulke MCM5


I have so many things that I would like to do at Maker Faire next year.   Many people asked me about the history of knitting and crocheting.  So, along with telling the story and sharing with others my knowledge, I also want to work on a power point that would show the progression of the craft over time.  Greenfield Village shows the history of textiles in Liberty Craft Works and the old homes, such as the Daggett home.  The craft goes back centuries and is really intriguing, especially to a crafter.  The art of felting, knitting, crocheting, weaving, etc. is centuries old.  When I look at a piece of wool roving or cotton and think that everything from clothes to curtains originates there, it makes me almost speechless.

Mary Foulke MCM2Another thing that I would do is have on display all of the things that were in our Maker Corps Possibility Boxes.  Kids by nature like to touch, feel and figure out how things work.  Having them on display would give them that opportunity.  When they are given the chance to become inquisitive, they begin to ask questions and wonder and figure out things for themselves!  It is also the time when the creative juices start to flow and their own ideas come to mind of what they could do.



Mary Foulke MCM3

Maker Corps Members and staff of The Henry Ford

One of the things I appreciate about the Henry Ford is the ‘can-do’ attitude.  This was perfect to work in this kind of atmosphere as a Maker Corp member.  The Henry Ford embodies the spirit of innovation, empowering others with the belief that anything is possible if you are willing to try, work hard, and not give up.  You begin to think that anything is possible if you only believe.  Enthusiasm begins to grow and expand.  Perhaps Henry Ford said it best when he stated, “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars.  Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” 


I am a third grade teacher by trade and there are many things that I plan to do differently in my classroom this year.  My own enthusiasm and plans have expanded to include an after school Innovation Class for the students in my building.  I would like to have an ‘Innovator’ corner in my classroom with things for children to tinker and create with.  I believe each of us is special in some way, we all have skills within us, and we just need to find out where that talent lies.  If we do not give children a chance to explore and investigate, how are they going to ever find out?


We have merely scratched the surface of the store of knowledge which will come to us. I believe that we are now, a-tremble on the verge of vast discoveries – discoveries so wondrously important they will upset the present trend of human thought and start it along completely new lines.” – Thomas Edison


Mary Foulke MCM6Mary Foulke MCM1
Maker Ed is incredibly grateful for the work and reflection of Mary Foulke and all of our Maker Corps Members. Want to see more about Maker Corps? our Twitter stream and Facebook Page are packed with videos, and links to media coverage, blogs and more about our first year of Maker Corps. We are beginning the process of recruiting additional Maker Corps Host Sites for the Summer of 2014. If your organization is interested in being a part of the expansion of this exciting and effective program, please register on this brief form.   -Steve Davee, Director of Education and Communications. 






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