Paper Circuits & Paper Craft Valentines

Last week we ran our first tinkering workshop for adults at our new experimental gallery space in the Maker Ed Community Studio in Northwest Berkeley. It was a chance to make light-up DIY valentines using paper circuit materials and try out some paper crafting experiments.

We’ve been experimenting with paper circuits for a while and love how these electronic creations can help participants express humor, emotion and storytelling through art and science.

In addition to the classic paper circuit activity, we wanted to also mess around with a few ways of tinkering with creating unusual paper to use for the valentines.

Way back in 2017, we hosted Natalie Freed for a residency within a residency at Chabot Space and Science Center on making paste paper. This old technique (there’s a great tutorial here on the Henry Hebert blog) allows you to make geometric patterned paper using a thick paste paint.


We like this activity because it allows for using familiar materials (brushes, back-scratchers, toothpicks) in unfamiliar ways and also speaks to computational or algorithmic art making techniques that could be a start of programming/processing experiments.


As well, we wanted to try the technique of shaving cream paper marbling with food coloring (see tutorial here) to make unique paper. This was a super fun technique that allows for so much iteration, trial and error and experimentation.


On the afternoon before the workshop we invited our housemates from Maker Ed downstairs to experiment with us. There were so many expressions of joy, surprise and excitement from the focus group of ‘beta testers’.


We started the event in the evening with a table set up with the paper circuit supplies and another table (with mylar covering) where participants could explore shaving cream marbling. Nicole also put out the heart shaped robot face and some unique chocolate covered strawberries.

The group had a good mix of people with paper circuit experience as educators and others who were making paper circuits for the first time. It was fun to show people how to use a soldering iron and give them the chance to experiment with RGB leds.

There were some beautiful love-themed creations including pop-up designs, a RGB card with a arrow switch to chance the colors and a collaged firefly that made use of lots of different custom paper samples.

Around the room we saw couples working together, sharing ideas, showing each other techniques and working through frustrations (all important skills in both love and tinkering).


We’re excited to host more adult tinkering workshops in the coming months. The next WICO workshop will be creating pi-day photograms with Modesto Tamez on 3/14. Hope to see you there.