Bay Area artist, industrial designer, and educator Judy Aime’ Castro loves to share the joy of making, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She is cofounder of Teach Me to Make, leading hands-on workshops to makers of all ages. She develops accessible educational kits that encourage folks to tap into their own creativity, reuse objects, and get into working with electronics. Judy teaches us how to make her Arduino-powered CoffeeBots, a project that has delighted the masses at Maker Faire, on the pages of the upcoming MAKE Volume 34. Having learned tinkering from her father, who was a machinist, and sewing from her mother, as a family trade, she combines the worlds of art and tech seamlessly. Judy has also collaborated on large-scale art installations with collectives like the Flaming Lotus Girls, lending her skills, whether they be welding, sewing, or electronics.
One project you’re particularly proud of:
1. I am proud of being part of Teach Me to Make, an educational outreach program. Michael Shiloh and I began working together as educators almost by chance. We were offered an opportunity to drive the MAKE Mobile, an old firefighter truck fitted for teaching art and science throughout the Bay Area. We created projects with limited resources and sometimes on the spur of the moment. We realized that kids enjoyed our approach to tinkering. It was engaging and we discovered that we also learned while teaching.
A friendly army of CoffeeBots, with no shortage of personality.
Two past mistakes you’ve learned the most from:
1. I learned a valuable lesson just recently: not to wait until others recognize or appreciate my work. I learned to value my own ideas, and to work on a concept and execute it without needing approval from anyone. Sometimes an idea is rejected so many times, we tend to believe it doesn’t have any value; however, if you persevere it will work and succeed.
2. The other lesson I learned was not to give up on your dreams even if all the odds are against you.
Three new ideas that have excited you most lately:
1. I am excited with the idea of designing educational toys that are open source and made from materials available to everyone. I am working on a robot based on an idea that I had started in my last year of college.
2. Another idea I started this past year is that I am slowly building my working studio for prototyping art and design.
3. The last idea that I am determined to build this year is a project that I had put on hold for several years: a kinetic sculpture with digital media and textiles called The Pink Ladies. Stay tuned!
Judy and her Brain on Energy sculpture, on display at UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery.
Four people/things that have inspired your work:
1. I have always been inspired by nature. I enjoy seeing how animals and plants adapt to their surrounding.
2. I am inspired by seeing local artist in their studios working on a new piece and sharing openly the challenges of creating and the new things they discover that makes their piece unique.
3. I am inspired to know there are more women in industrial careers. I admire the tenacity of women that are trailblazing in male-dominated fields.
4. I am inspired by people that start with a small idea and turn it in a movement that can drive others to doing something positive.
Fishbug, a Flux Foundation sculpture she collaborated on, weaving the interior fabric.
Five tools you can’t live without:
I like to collect measuring devices and old hand tools. As a woman working in a variety of workshops, I find that power tools are mainly designed for one segment of the population. For example, the power grip on a drill is designed for large-sized hands. I’ve had to alter welding equipment and I’ve had to adjust oversized gloves to fit my hands.
I have hand tools that I always keep in my handbag:
1. A multipurpose, small Leatherman/woman
2. A tape measure
3. A pocket knife
Judy and her CoffeeBots at California College of Arts.