Opposable Thumbs

We tackle a new creative challenge every two weeks and talk about our accomplishments, failures and lessons learned.

About the show

We (Taylor Hokanson and Rob Ray) assign ourselves (and a guest) a new creative challenge every two weeks. We then talk about our discoveries, problems, solutions, failures and successes and.... try to steer clear of catastrophic shop accidents.

Opposable Thumbs on social media


  • Episode 14: In Reverse Dance Poem

    September 11th, 2017  |  1 hr 7 mins
    90's, ai, arduino, electronics, face mapping, file systems, flask, flocking, gas masks, grunge, haiku, machine learning, neural networks, punk rockers, python, raspberry pi, rnn, satanism, solenoids, tensorflow, turntables

    Jon Satrom is our guest this week! Chicago (x2) in tha house! We talk about being punk rockers, dropping projectors and being deep in the hippie game. There are many things to buy when the invisible hand of disaster capitalism pays full retail price for your surplus gas masks.

    Internet Engineering Task Force... take notice! Taylor has created the haikulink transport protocol (Is port 575 taken?). Jon squeezes Taylor and Rob through a neural network and a whole bunch of like... awesome weird stuff comes out, you know? Rob talks trash on solenoids but they came through in the end so he probably shouldn't get too puffy about it.

    Check out our project photos, videos and more at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com

    Thanks to Nik, Luke and Kelly (http://kellymariemartin.com)! They're our top Patreon supporters! And props to Mike and Jen as well! Ya'll are great too! Join 'em at: https://www.patreon.com/opposablethumbs

  • Episode 13: Make a Flag

    August 28th, 2017  |  1 hr 16 mins
    99% invisible, anti-defamation, art, audacity, cmyk, datamoshing, deportation, design, disability, focus groups, glitch, hate groups, hex fiend, hitler, ice, image glitch, immigration, los angeles, making, markers, peckerwood, process, racism, satin, silk, symbology, u.s. flag, wind

    Violet Juno is our guest this week! Bay Area in tha house!!! We discuss working hard, pain, constant pain, and chronic pain. We miss talking about The Chronic, somehow.

    Taylor injects symbols into the system and gets some really weird and great results. Well... We made it 12 episodes before Pepe entered the conversation. Violet grabs wind by the horns and unfurls the awesomeness. They also tip us off to some rad fabric and cool markers in the process. Rob tries to melt ICE in Los Angeles and keep the focus group focused.

    Check out our project photos, videos and more at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com

    Thanks to Nik, Luke and Kelly http://kellymariemartin.com! They're our top Patreon supporters! And props to Mike and Jen as well! Ya'll are great too! Join 'em at: https://www.patreon.com/opposablethumbs

  • Episode 12: Keys of Understanding

    August 14th, 2017  |  1 hr 25 mins
    3 point perspective, arduino, art, bicycles, biking, bones, breadboard, burning money, cards, circuit diagram, college, deck, decolonization, design, dogen, drawing, dying fetus, electronics, feldspar, flag pole, flags, form, fritzing, gameshows, high school, icons, knives, language, leds, los angeles, meaning, metal, mosfet, paulo freire, pedagogy, perspective drawing, philosophy, poetry, schematic, scp foundation, secure contain protect, soylent, spirituality, stock, tarot, teaching, tip120, transistor, translation, western thought, zen, zines

    Artist and public school arts educator Arturo Romo is our guest this week! Northeast Los Angeles in tha house! We discuss public education, the joys of collaboration and creating life stability. Some people look like vegetables, and some vegetables looks like humans. Rob now wears a bike helmet and deploys as many icons as possible to preach the bike safety gospel. And he encourages you earn the "burn money" merit badge. Arturo moves the bones to shuffle and stack colonialism and decolonization. Taylor gets his 3-point perspective on! Mosfet is not a Star Wars bounty hunter... that we know of. Taylor also names the "woke death metal" genre.

    Thanks to Nik for being our top Patreon supporter! And thanks to Luke and Kelly (Happy Birthday Kelly!) as well!

    You can check out photos of our projects at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com

  • Episode 11: Uncertainty Generators

    July 31st, 2017  |  1 hr 20 mins
    air compressors, cad, catacombs, catering, coin toss, cooking, doubt, duchamp, food service, healthcare, hustles, identity, mcmaster-carr, movies, pager codes, paris, pharmaceuticals, pvc, quarters, travel, uncertainty, wallets

    Erin O'Brien is our guest this week! Los Angeles (via Paris) in tha house!

    We talk about traveling, movies, pager codes and Operation Mincemeat! Rob has no idea what was said for 5 minutes of this podcast. Taylor's project "flies off the handle" and Erin and Rob go "WHOA!" at the same time! Erin concocts a very intriguing vessel that could definitely change how your day is going... no matter the orifice. Rob digs through 10 years of digital photos and runs over stuff with his truck.

    Check out our project photos, videos and more at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com

    Thanks to Nik, Luke and Kelly http://kellymariemartin.com/! They're our top Patreon supporters! And props to Mike and Jen as well! Ya'll are great too! Join 'em at: https://www.patreon.com/opposablethumbs

    Greetings Australian listeners!

  • Episode 10: Creating Problems

    July 17th, 2017  |  1 hr 33 mins
    3d printing, additivism, aspic, dit, diy, food, knolling, low tech, mcluhan, raspberry pi, salukis, seed bombs, solar, sous-vide, tape delay, targets, thermal printing

    Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne of the Root Simple publishing empire are our guests this week! Los Angeles in tha house! We talk about targets, tape delay, adobe mud, knolling, sous-vide, puppies and the secrets contained in Lower Level 2. Rob is surrounded by tall people. Hello Macedonia! Thanks for Listening!

    Erik and Kelly concoct suborbital weed bombs. Yep. You read that right. Suborbital. Weed. Bombs. Taylor pushes us one step closer to the inevitable Internet of Poems. Rob gets inspired by additivism and tries to 3D print a thing.

    Check out our project photos, videos and more at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com

    Thanks to Nik, Luke and Kelly http://kellymariemartin.com/! They're our top Patreon supporters! And props to Mike and Jen as well! Ya'll are great too! Join 'em at: https://www.patreon.com/opposablethumbs

  • Episode 9: Jigs

    July 3rd, 2017  |  1 hr 15 mins
    "ice cube" relays, acrylic, ants, bespoke, breaker, bubbles, cnc, dog bowls, ice picks, jigs, laser cutters, modernist, rusty cans, shop vac, terrariums, toaster ovens, vacuum tube

    Matthew Steinke is our guest this week! Austin, Texas in tha house! Jigs is our topic! We cipher on Matt's forays into robotic music making, radio transmissions, terrariums, art objects and weird retail experiences.

    Taylor synthesizes CNC prototyping, mold-making, felting and leather-working to create something even cooler than a bespoke modernist CNC dog bowl. And you thought it wasn't possible! Matt wields shop vac, laser cutter and toaster oven while chasing the allure of bubbles, "ice cube" relays, and vacuum tubes. Rob just might have a way to conquer his giant pile of rusty cans ... ... ... or he will get tetanus and be in a lot of pain. Taylor busts out an amazing Frieza impression. "This isn't even my final form!"

    Share an episode and we'll send you a sticker! Just let us know how you shared an episode of the podcast and send your address to us at opposablepodcast@gmail.com

    A big shoutout to Nik, our top Patreon patron! Thank you Nik! Nik, Kelly and Luke are like... like... Charlie's Angels but with additional cool psychic powers and breakdancing prowess!

    We post photos, videos and other cool stuff related to our projects at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com and we're on Instagram at http://instagram.com/opposable_podcast. Thanks for listening!

  • Episode 8: Crafting Security

    June 19th, 2017  |  1 hr 36 mins
    99% invisible, beekeeping, ecovillage, encouraging creativity, evilmadscientistlabs, fat pencils, gimp, guns, handcrafting, hersheytext, inkscape, jeremy fielding, jigs, jimmy diresta, jlin, keys, killer key, lego, locks, nick cave sound suits, one time pad, passwords, perler beads, prayer beads, root simple, rule 34, safety, security blankets, shrink wrap, squatters, teaching, visual cryptography, woodgears, xkcd

    Federico Tobon is our guest this week! We put the kraftwerk in Crafting Security! We talk LEGO, laser cutters, bubble wrap, metalworking, Enigma machines, crosscut sleds, fat pencils, Inkscape, hersheytext, the awesomeness of scissors and a whole lot more.

    You might want to bring a battering ram if you're at a dinner party with Taylor. Just sayin... Federico makes creating your next password the most fun and contemplative part of your day (mad props to xkcd). He also shares a way to convert your 3D printer into a laser printer. um... WUT! Rob heats up some perler beads and ices up his grille cryptography. Also shrink wrap is a wonder.

    You can check out our projects for this episode at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com/episode-8-crafting-security/ Also, we're on Instagram! http://instagram.com/opposable_podcast

    A big thanks to Kelly (kellymariemartin.com) and Luke, our top Patreon supporters!

  • Episode 7: Homemade Chemicals

    June 6th, 2017  |  1 hr 10 mins
    best friends, bflg, burbank, carbon, center for land use interpretation, charcoal, circuit, circuit boards, composting, copper, cryptography, cryptoparties, diamonds, foundry, gallium, homegrown evolution, humanure, hydrogen peroxide, learning, microwaves, milk, mosfets, muratic acid, nitrogen, peanut butter, plastic, poop, recycling, root simple, sharpie, simparch, styrofoam, tip120, utah, vinegar, world power systems

    Dan Bustillo is our guest this week! It's plastic buckets all the way down as we don our ordnance disposal suits and mix up some homemade chemicals! Polystyrene and acetone don't mix. No! Wait! Dan shows us they do mix... into a very goopy suspension. Your very goopy lower intestine seems like a good place to hide secret messages but... is it? Rob puts the doo-doo in Do It Yourself. What's in the boooox?!? Taylor concocts a potion and sketchy is transformed into etchy! Can you make diamonds in a microwave? Mmmmmaybe... and if that fails you could probably make a death ray.

    A big thanks to Kelly (kellymariemartin.com) and Luke, our top Patreon supporters!
    Mike and Jen also joined the "Opposable Thumbs League of Patreon Supporter Badasses!"

    You can check out our projects for this episode at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com/project/7/

  • Episode 6: Whiteness

    May 22nd, 2017  |  1 hr 20 mins
    bearings, celery, cnc, colonialism, curiosity, fidget spinner, foster parenting, high school, python, race, reparations, robin diangelo, self-study, sms, suburbia, twilio, w.e.b. dubois, white fragility, whiteness

    No guest this week! Just Taylor and Rob digging into whiteness... Whiteness. WHITENESS. We poke and prod woke suburbia, white fragility, guilt, walking the walk, confederate monuments, and complicated family stuff. We discuss creativity as more than the act of making things, but we did make things also. Taylor concocts an object to help him stay frosty while digging into fidget-inducing whiteness studies. Rob looks to interruptive technologies to help him navigate life in the smog of whiteness. A big thanks to Hương Ngô for this very challenging challenge!

    Listeners! Please let us know what you think about this episode!. Also, how do you stay informed and move through your day thoughtfully? How do you stay curious about daunting topics like whiteness? How do you turn talk... into walk?

    Thank you Kelly and Luke for being our top sponsors on Patreon!

  • Episode 5: “I Don’t Care, You Pick": Real, Recorded and Random Decision Making

    May 8th, 2017  |  1 hr 23 mins
    artists, balloons, bone folders, cameras, cnc, common, databases, etching, github, helium, internet, juice, maker culture, oblique strategies, paper, rock, scissors, trans, trees, usb drives, whiteness, women, word jazz

    Artist Hương Ngô joins us this week! Chicago in the house! We consider the cinematic grossness of windblown shopping bags to the face. Our helium shortage is real and Rob is wasting it being dreamy. There is a champion of rock, paper scissors... and a robot champion... Hương hurls a rock through "I would show more work by ________ but I just don't know any..." Taylor creates some high burrs with his orthogonal strategies.

    Ken Nordine and Brian Eno walk into a bar and say to the bartender... "Pour me a Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps." The bartender says "Who do I look like, Ben Franklin? Try the Dream Machine, instead." Put that in your technicolor dream coat and smoke it! Try to end the day on a solution.

  • Episode 4: Stand Up Comedy

    April 24th, 2017  |  1 hr 16 mins
    adafruit, arduino, audacity, comedy, darth plagueis, demos, google, green rooms, maxmsp, nuclear, preppers, reddit, ribs, solar, sound, soundflower, teaching, twilio, unity, youtube

    New media artist and educator Nick Bontrager joins us this week! Texas in tha house! Taylor eats too many ribs. Google conjures boy bands, pizza, and dogs on skateboards. Nick unravels and re-ravels the mythologies of place, spelunks the man-cave, and makes Max/MSP do backflips.Taylor scrapes r/all for comedic gold and finds... it? He found something, anyway. Nick invites us into the green room for a good panic. We learn Unity is so powerful it can fill a toilet with the entire ocean. Rob's fascination with Nuclear End Tymes makes him think preppers are his people... Never assume preppers are your people. Oh! and an extra special thing! Ranjit Bhatnagar sent us a really cool video piece inspired by this weeks Opposable Thumbs challenge! Wait for it at the end.

  • Episode 3: Found Electronics

    April 10th, 2017  |  1 hr 8 mins
    arduino, chemistry, comedy, computing, doppelgangers, einsturzende neubauten, electronics, hacking, lovelace, new media, tattoos, theremins, witches

    Digital witchcraft practitioner Meghan Trainor is our guest this week! Seattle in tha house! We chat about our search engine doppelgängers, "Bertha" the sonically wondrous SR 99 Tunneling Machine, and electricity as a kinda-natural resource. We like funny people. One of us shares a tattoo with an angry, muscly singer. Can you guess who it is? Art... man... It gets co-opted by global hyper-capitalizm quickly. Meghan melds the knowing and unknowing of engineering and witchcraft. Do you even verte, bra? Taylor distills a pink ringing thing down to its most elegant and intriguing components. Rob gives you another reason to steal.

    Check out what we made at http://projects.opposablepodcast.com.

    We have 49 links in show notes filled with interesting stuff. 49 links! That's bonkers.

    Listen to the episode, jump in on our next challenge and send us photos of what you made!

  • Episode 2: DnD Dice

    March 27th, 2017  |  1 hr 4 mins
    3d printing, arduino, bevels, bones, casting, dice, eeg, icosahedrons, leds, mind control, pin nailers, relays, rng, salvage, scrollsaws, solenoids

    We welcome materials engineer Ian Doran as our first guest! Taylor shares knucklebones as an ancient method of random number generation and combines the old-school with the new-school. Ian brings the icosahedral heat! Rob thinks about rolling dice and... the dice roll. We also discuss steam turbines, lost wax casting, teenager as scientist, driveway as science laboratory and bevel math! You heard that right! Bevel math!

  • Episode 1: Paperclip and 2x4

    March 9th, 2017  |  1 hr 14 mins
    2x4, accessibility, art, comic sans, containers, creativity, crimetown, critical making, diegetic prototypes, inventions, lock picking, master-carr, paperclips, prisoners, sewing machines, silicon beach

    Our first episode! We completed our "Paperclip and 2x4 "challenge! Some things went great. Other things went... pretty darn wrong. We also introduce ourselves, share what inspired us this week and talk about the structure of the podcast. We discuss the goofiness of "Silicon Beach," the awesomeness of Prisoners' Inventions, and the rise of Critical Making. And... a lot more!