HackSpace magazine

Make do and mend

By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

As makers, we often use the ‘make-do-and-mend’ mentality. If something is broken, many of us will try to fix it. If that doesn’t work, we may try to adapt it. If that doesn’t work, then we will probably cannibalize the thing for parts for future projects.

I have many boxes of ‘parts’ just waiting for the right problem, which has often been very useful when I have left a make to the last minute and don’t have the time to order in new parts.

I often use ‘workarounds’ too. I don’t have the exact thing I want to do this, but if I use this, this, and that, it will work. Which is why some of my projects look a little like a Heath Robinson contraption.

Maintenance is something that is rarely the first choice for me. I prefer the buzz of fixing something that isn’t working, rather than maintaining something that is still OK for now. But the old saying ‘a stitch in time, saves nine!’ doesn’t get any less true with age. Having become more aware recently that not everything is available on ‘next-day delivery’ – and having to be more conscious of where my cash goes – the make-do-and-mend mantra also makes economical and environmental sense. And so, I am paying more attention to the things that need preventative maintenance – before they get to the ‘not working’ stage.

For example, that slight drip on the showerhead? I’ve fixed it with Sugru. I’ve oiled my bike chain for the first time in years, and I’ve sewn up that loose thread on my jacket. I’ve been surprised at the delayed satisfaction I got from these projects. I hadn’t really realised that every time I saw that thread and drip, I thought ‘must fix that’. And my bike rides are easier now! I may not get the immediate buzz, but the cumulative effect on my mental health over time more than makes up for it.

I am also following the ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ mindset. I am reducing the number of things that I buy – which is hard, because ‘ooh look, shiny!’ I am reusing the things that can be reused – I have a towel that was used by me, then relegated to be a dog towel, and now it’s a rag in the workshop. I do love rag rugs too, so may start making one of those soon from other bits of rag. And I recycle whatever I can.

What projects are you doing that make-do-and-mend?