Something to be proud of – Palmyra Arch

Palmyra ArchI could not contain my delight on hearing the Arch of Triumph, the copy made  for Palmyra, Syria was on display in Florence for a month. In timing with the first ever G7 Ministers Summit on Culture which Italy promoted on taking over the presidency of the G7.

With the premise “Culture as a tool for dialogue between the people…The international community will thus reaffirm its commitment to recover and preserve the heritage of mankind damaged by natural disasters, hit during conflict and attacked by terrorism and in combating illicit trafficking of cultural property. Among the objectives of the summit is the need for agreement on  a cultural component in peacekeeping missions promoted by the United Nations and to make the summit of Ministers of Culture permanent at the next G7.”

Florence is the perfect setting for such an event and the Palmyra Arch of Triumphhas become a true global symbol of the triumph of cooperation over conflict, optimism over despair and human ingenuity over senseless destruction.”

I am provincial enough to say I am so very Tuscan proud of the Italian capacity to conceive the idea and the craftsmanship that built it….it’s been in their DNA for centuries!

I leave you with more details from my post of 24/4/2016:

As I watched the building of the antique marble arch of Palmyra in Syria I could not be more impressed by Italian creativity and talent in using the most update technology of 3D printers to recreate a work of art destroyed in the civil conflict in Syria. While never to replace the original it is still heartening to see the use of the current technology in recreating such a masterpiece. Congratulations to the company -TorArt- which has succeeded in the project, working together with the Institute of Digital Archeology.
Fascinated as I am by the new technology ( see my previous blog on Makers) I am even more impressed by seeing it used to enormous benefits of us all.

And to think it is on my doorstep, by workers from Fantascritti quarry in Carrara, Tuscany, adds an extra note of pride for their ingenuity and craftsmanship. The arch went on display in Trafalgar Square London 19th April, and will go to New York, Dubai and then home to Syria.

Arch Trafalgar Square

Arch in Trafalgar Square Photo credit Lucy Glasser

Fantascritti quarry museumIt also brought back fond memories of various tours I had taken to the quarry of Fantascritti where a retiree of the quarry –Walter Danesi, had created an outstanding museum dedicated to the difficulties and hardships involved in extracting the most beautiful marble in the world. Marble that has created masterpieces, like Michelangelo’s David and more.

The difficulties can be seen here in the photos from the quarry museum, where many have risked their lives over the centuries and continue to do so. The last unfortunate accident on site was but 10 days ago when two workers were crushed under tons of marble and a third rescued as he remained suspended in the air. Not surprisingly the area of Carrara has been known to be a strong anarchist haunt as Man challenges the elements of Nature and the ongoing pressure of extraction to meet today’s demands.

Walter Danesi always had lots of stories to tell of his time as a quarry worker and gave a warm welcome to my tour groups and my family. He wrote a dedication in his book Walter Danesiwhich I cherish “To lovely Susi, with admiration, Walter Danesi”Walter Danesi book







So if you are ever in the area of Carrara, about an hour from Pisa or Lucca, drive up to the Fantascritti Quarry to see for yourselves the marvel of marble and the incredible effort that has gone into it’s extraction and sculpting. Be warned though, it is still a working Quarry and the truck drivers don’t take kindly to visitors on the long windy road…..understandably!


Electronic Innovators get it together – Makers Faire Rome


water purifier

Water Purifier

High tech ‘Makers’ and ‘Innovators’ have me captivated, and for my third year in a row I toured the five pavilions at the Makers Faire in Rome . Why you may ask?  Because it’s an opportunity to see new developments and understand how vast this land of Inventors is and the potential of the new technology. It’s astounding!

At risk of being repetitive I say for creativity Italians have it hands down, and the place was swarming with young, passionate, enthusiasts and smart designers eager to explain their new idea and keen to find support for funding the project, often via crowd funding. The Makers movement incorporates the idea of sharing knowledge, creating new, tinkering with the old and recycling to avoid waste, using the new technology at its best.

I headed directly to the ‘Life’ pavilion filled with new projects, particularly aimed at disabled. Too Wheels bowled me over – a wheelchair designed in a FAbLab inTurin with recycled bike wheels, pipes, plywood and instruction manual on how to DIY or buy the package…..accessible to anyone in the world!


The young Talking Hands designers won the first prize of €100,000 at the Fair which  hopefully will get the project developed. A technological glove, that on the hands of a deaf person can translate sign language into voice to enable communication with people like us. The guys can be proud of themselves.

Noon talk phone

Or the Noon Care Talk project that allows our smartphone to communicate to our loved ones, who may not be super technological, on a simple Talk phone: sending reminders of pills to be taken AND confirmation, Dr’s appointments etc, with GPS location, direct contact and emergency call button so you always feel in touch.

Then there were various alternative energy projects for lighting using a plastic water bottle, solar energy powering old kerosene lamps (liter of light) to slick wind turbines.

ono 3D printer smartphone

Objects printed by Ono

A rush on the Smartphone 3D Printer- Ono….Oh No!!! and various other devices for cleaning and sterilising smartphone screens.

3D printer smartphone




clean hero

smatphone wiper






Not exactly essential in life and curious to see the presentation of the wiper being done by a robot!?



An unusual selection of new machines like the multidimensional electrical bike, 3D printed monuments that can show the weather, and lightweight sculptures reproduced by 3D scanning to create a mobile museum of important artworks.


And a superb array of artisan work  in furnishings – Wally 3D printed lamp

cardboard stools and chipboard furniture

fashion design like the coffee bags by girls from Bologna – Re-Find  of interlaced polylaminate coffee bean packaging

and digital fabrication and much more…….

I love it all; the creativity that sees no boundaries, the clever presentation, the smart use of lingo, the enthusiasm, the educational aspects, the philosophy behind it and the thousands of visitors of all ages looking on in awe at what can be made. Wow!ifixit T shirt

So if this has inspired you, you may need to update your toolkit and I highly recommend On my next order I need this Tshirt!

After all, I fixed my washing machine, brought my iPhone back to life after it finished in the washing machine and installed my new car radio….so I consider myself part of the Makers movement!



Makers are shaping our future


Maker FaireRome AuditoriumWhat was I doing at the Open Source Hardware Summit and the Makers Faire in Rome? I’m not sure, but was attracted by the notions of sharing knowledge and technology, pooling resources, reducing waste, grassroots involvement and definitely wanted to know more about 3D printers.



It was so stimulating, innovative, inspiring, an explosion to my brain, a launch into a future full of positive ideas and alternatives to how we are living today. A total immersion in a new world of dreamers, designers and makers doing so much to make a positive change to help this tired old Earth breathe new life, find new options and make creative devices to alleviate pain and suffering. I was flabbergasted, astounded and exhilarated by it all.

And you may ask, what it’s all about? This will be my humble non geek version of what I gleaned from the experience and perhaps take some of you along the road with me to explore what’s happening in your own areas.RepRap 3D printer3D printing pen






Michelangelo's David

Too many Big Macs?!

Open source hardware is about developing new things using (electronic) technology and leaving all the details of how you did it available to everyone so anyone can build on their own modifications, pool resources and knowledge to produce better projects. It’s giving control back to the people, a type of globalized grassroots approach to sharing of information, rather than privatizing, commercializing and creating objects that someone else thinks you need and isn’t going to tell you how they made it! Using social networks for a GREAT  cause.

A lot spins around the use of an Arduino which is described on Wiki as ‘an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators.”

3D printed heart

3D printed heart for surgeons to test out solutions before operating

The co founder of it, Massimo Banzi, was one of the many inspiring speakers.  And to think it had all started as a school project in 2005!Dus architects
Arduino wearables





Some of the projects discussed were to save the world from water and food shortages, complex health problems, reducing waste, monitoring environments as well as the more frivolous wearable technology – solar panels inserted into clothing to enable you to recharge your mobile device or flashing and flashy headgear and the like.Robot

3D surgical implants





The Fablab workshop people visit schools to encourage students to come and tinker and make their own projects. They had been somewhat disappointed with student’s reactions, as often when giving examples of projects developed the first questions were “How much does it cost? Can I get it as an App?” rather than “How was it made?” The new generation obviously needs more stimulus!.

The best I can do is to give some examples for you to explore on websites and youtube like: The Strati 3D printed car by Local Motors   It can be printed in 44 hours and assembled in 2 days, weighs 680kg, powered by a Renault Twizy electric motor that does up to 60kph and designed by an Italian Michele Anoè from Turin

The Warka water project Italian design water container and shelter made from simple local building materials. Collecting water even from condensation, like droplets on a spiders webWarka water project

Pizza 3D printed  and other foods so astronauts can have more appetizing and nutritional meals, and no packaging waste.

The new style wheelchair – Marioway – to keep disabled in a standing position, thus alleviating bad posture, poor breathing and other health problems. Helping them lead a normal life, by seeing us (non disabled) eye to eye. Only part of the Demo here with a couple dancing together. It was so moving, I was not the only one close to tears.



Phonebloks – mobile phone





Phonebloks a new style of mobile phone with easily replaceable bits, as only 5% of he 1,800,000.000 (!?!) mobile phones produced every year are recycled. And think about it, we are updating out mobiles on average every 2 1/2 years and tossing the old one!

Robo hands as a prosthesis, made by a 3D printer and put together even by children who need them, at a cost around $US 30.Robo hand

Or the moveable night light for Africa made with scrapes, the Faso soap that can be made in outback villages with herbal qualities that repel mosquitoes and so fight against malaria.

Faso soap





The foldscope  mini microscope that could be made for $US1 and help in the prevention of diseases

There was just so much, I cannot put it all in a humble post. A lot of the projects are still looking for funds through various start up and crowdfunding sites  like Kickstarter and need all of us to be thinking of ways we may be able to contribute…. not just financially.

To cap off the event the first man to ever have an antenna planted in his brain – Neil Harbisson talked about his adventure in cyborism art. The antenna gives him colours in sounds as he was born only being able to see in black and white.Neil HarbissonCyborgism






The whole conference was a celebration of a possible form of future, a better world. And as they said ‘The same future you can grab with your own hands, even though it looks like Sci-Fi’


I’m off now to find my nearest Open source Fablab and 3D printer hub! And you?