Meet the Makers: Ksenia

Meet the Makers is a series of interviews to help you get to know the people who are building our makerspace. Ksenia recently started as our Thursday night site moderator, but you might have seen her around previously, lending a hand at various makerspace events. 

Ksenia, what’s your role at YuKonstruct?
I have, and have had, a few roles at Yukonstruct. Right now I’m the Thursday evening site moderator and occasional blog-post writer, but I’ve also co-taught Laser Cutter 101, organized workshops, promoted an event on air, and been involved in a number of different maker projects, like the Winterval lanterns.

How did you get involved with YuKonstruct?
A few months after I arrived in Yukon I realized that my apartment has very limited space to store projects and power tools. Also, I wanted to meet other makers in the area. I set out looking for a place with space, tools, and other makers with whom to collaborate, create, and learn. In a nutshell, this is Yukonstruct. So, I reached out and the following day found myself on a beautiful fall walk with the volunteer coordinator deep in a conversation that swung between mushroom harvesting and the various volunteer opportunities at Yukonstruct. I’ve been hooked ever since.

What do you like most about YuKonstruct?
Yukonstruct is special for many reasons – it is unique in the resources it offers members. If I had to name one thing that I like most about Yukonstruct, however, it would be the people and the energy that they bring to the space. Everyone, of all skill levels, is welcome. Each member is interested in different things – this makes for magic when a few start talking, get together, and create something incredible out of a collaboration. If you’re having a problem with a project, or see someone who is stuck with theirs, it is the most natural thing to put your heads together and hash it out. It’s a great place to be.

Why should people become YuKonstruct members?
Well, in addition to access to the space and the tools and the experts, membership gives you an extra push to get out the door and go make something. I’m a pretty busy person, and it is easy to leave no time in the week for making ‘fun’ projects. Having a membership reminds me that I need to make time in my schedule to do these fun, creative activities. It is great to walk in the door and see what others are making – it gives you so many ideas for your own projects. It makes you want to come back and keep making, learning, collaborating. It is a dedicated creation space.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m in love with the laser cutters. Before joining Yukonstruct, I had never worked with them. So far I’ve made signs, a nameplate for my niece, a wedding gift, and countless types of coasters and ornaments for Christmas gifts. It was really great to give something that I’d designed, cut with a laser, polished, and varnished.

I’m also learning to bead in the single-needle and double-needle styles and am looking into small-scale mushroom (shiitake and oyster) cultivation on logs and in boxes. The boxes would have to be insulated but also allow for air circulation, so it is a bit of an adventure figuring out how to approach it.

Ice Fishing at Little Atlin Lake

YuKonstruct member Ksenia recently participated in the Make It Wild: Ice Fishing event at Little Atlin Lake, put on in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust. Here’s her report on the experience as a first-timer ice fishing.

It is April 1st and sunny, just above zero. After registering for our Yukon Fishing Licences this morning (required to fish in Yukon), we are walking onto Little Atlin Lake and the snow is crunchy underfoot. There are two red tents and some vehicles in the distance. None of us three friends who drove here today have done this before – ice fishing in the Yukon.

There are about eight of us who arrive on site first thing, around 11 am. More will arrive later. We are warmly welcomed by YuKonstruct volunteer Amy and Environment Yukon’s Conversation Officers Aaron and Matt and Fisheries Biologists Aaron and Robert. Two large red tents are already set up and holes have been drilled both inside and outside of each.
After a quick introduction to each other and ice fishing, the organizers quickly sort out who needs what and we split up towards our fishing holes to try and persuade a Whitefish or two to accompany us home for supper.

Some of us have our own tackle and others need a hand. At Little Atlin Lake, only barbless hooks are permitted – so we make sure to pinch the barbs with pliers really well (read more about Yukon Fishing Regulations). My two friends and I are complete but eager beginners, and we’re in good hands. Everyone gets the advice or help they need and we are set up and fishing in no time at all. Meanwhile, there are two other activities besides ice fishing on the go: tying flies with Aaron and a fun kid’s craft with YuKonstruct.

Within 20 minutes of starting, our tent has caught a Whitefish! Then another and another. It is an exciting experience – you’re jigging your tiny lure to attract the fish and suddenly one will cruise by, looking for a meal. Some will circle your lure, you watching from above. Others will beeline right for the lure. You see straight down to the bottom of the lake, it is better than HD TV!

As the day went on, nine Whitefish were caught by our workshop group. The daily limit on Little Atlin Lake for Whitefish is 5 per person (read more about Yukon Fishing Regulations).  A few pike also circled, but were too wily to be hooked. We also learned facts from each other and the organizers about fishing for Whitefish, and for other fish, but also about preparing this abundant and deliciously sustainable Yukon food source. The Conversation Officers and Fisheries Biologists demonstrated how to fillet fresh Whitefish – ready for the table! We learn that it is important to ensure that your fish is identifiable when you take it home, so that you can show Conservation Officers what you have caught that day. After a few brave beginners tried their own hand at learning this new skill, we began calling it a day.

People packed up and headed back to their cars with smiles. Jean-Sebastien, who had come out with his wife and three children, said “The opportunity offered to be out ice fishing with my family was just great. The day was very nice, the organizers were giving good advice! My youngest son learned how to fish and I caught a beautiful Whitefish!”. Most, if not all, echoed his enthusiasm.
With the right gear and a little know-how, ice fishing is a great way to get out on the land, enjoy time with friends and family, and pick up something tasty for dinner. If this sounds like a good time, don’t hesitate to catch this workshop when it comes around next year –I’ll be seeing you on the lake!

New Makerspace Equipment!

We’ve got some exciting new additions at the makerspace thanks in part to funding from CanNor!

In the wood shop there’s two new King Industrial sanders:an oscillating spindle sander and a belt and disc sander.

The sewing room also features two brand new machines: a Janome serger and a Singer industrial sewing machine. A serger, also known as an overlock machine, is a tool that allows you to quickly finish edges on your sewing projects and the second industrial sewing machine promises to be easier to maintain and use than our existing vintage machine.

In the digital fabrication room, between the laser cutters, you’ll find the newly installed Pocket NC 5-axis CNC mill. This machine is part of YuKonstruct’s Instructables Makerspace Contest winnings.

5-axis CNC Mill
5-axis CNC Mill

Finally, the hackerspace now has an EinScan-S desktop 3D scanner, so you can easily make 3D digital models of real objects!

3D Scanner
3D Scanner

See the makerspace’s full list of tools on the Equipment page.

While not exactly equipment, you’ll likely notice that seating in the computer lab is much more comfortable these days with the bonus addition of new-to-us office chairs for all the computer stations.


Swan Haven Bird Boxes

YuKonstruct’s Amy and Thomas teamed up with our friends from Swan Haven to build bird boxes for Yukon’s small cavity nesting birds.

We guided 30 families through the assembly of their very own bird box, which they got to take home and install to create bird habitat for chickadees, bluebirds, or other small birds.

The participants learned about Yukon’s local populations of cavity nesting birds as well as how to pick a good spot to mount a bird box — creating an open flight path to and from the entry way and protecting the nesting birds from predators. And, of course, everyone had fun using the power tools from YuKonstruct!

If you missed the event, here’s an excellent resource about creating bird boxes from the Cornell Lab. Also, don’t forget that we posted about making bird boxes back in November – if you want that plan for a bird box – click here!

If you are looking for information about more awesome events like this, check out the link to: wildlife viewing events.

This event was put on by Wildlife Viewing, Environment Yukon with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Thanks for inviting YuKonstruct to take part!

Photo credit: Environment Yukon

Sandra Peacock – YuKonstruct Volunteer of the Year

It was with great sadness that we learned of Sandra (Sandy) Peacock’s sudden passing on March 22.

Sandy was a dedicated volunteer, so YuKonstruct was proud to honour her legacy recently by joining with Autism Yukon and the Yukon Astronomical Society, to nominate her posthumously for the Whitehorse 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Sandy’s influence as a volunteer went so far beyond one or two or three organizations. She was an energetic leader, contributor, and motivator for countless organizations in Whitehorse and the larger Yukon.

Sandy was involved with YuKonstruct since 2014. No matter what crazy idea our community of makers and entrepreneurs came up with, Sandy was there to help out and to cheer us on. Everything from participating on a team that wrote literally hundreds of DIY Instructables (Sandy personally documented 48 individual projects for the contest and was extremely pro-active in recruiting new members to help us win a lasercutter for our makerspace!), to making parade floats and giant effigies, to helping us find sponsorship for our events, to participating in strategic planning – Sandy was there.

You could most often find Sandy hard at work with a project on the laser cutter. She always had the time to show a new member the ropes. She dedicated hours of her time every week to keep our makerspace open to members on Saturday nights. Sandy always found the time to dedicate to committee meetings, and her advice was always well placed.

Sandy was gusto and energy in motion. There were few challenges that stumped her, because she had seen (and overcome) most of them before. She was relentlessly positive and helpful. No task was too small or too big for her to tackle. There is a quote: ‘If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito’. Well, Sandy was like a gentle swarm of mosquitos in every tent in Whitehorse. She buzzed with energy and ability.

YuKonstruct owes everything to its volunteers, and Sandy exemplifies the spirit of our community. She was our supporter, our champion, and our dedicated volunteer but, more than that, she touched and inspired many hearts. There are many ways of spreading light – to be the candle or a mirror that reflects it. Sandy was both the candle and the mirror. She brought the best of herself and brought out the best in others so that her contribution to YuKonstruct cannot be limited to herself, but extended to our community members who were inspired by her.

Sandy had a very special ability to give not just of herself, but to motivate and inspire others to overcome challenges and to make positive differences. Because of this ability, it is not possible to quantify Sandy’s contribution to our community – it was exponential. It was an entire life, and those lives she touched, and those lives who continue to be inspired.

Thank you Sandy.

Instructables final hackathon

March Break Maker Camp Summary

Over the school holidays, YuKonstruct’s makerspace was teeming with a dozen pre-teens as we kicked off our March Break Maker Camp!

The 5 day camp consisted of lots of hands on activities and made use of the makerspace’s awesome equipment. The camp participants got to experience laser cutting, bottle rocket building and blast off, 3D design and printing, carpentry, stop animation, robotics and more!

Everyone went home each day with items that they’d built/designed/crafted/created.


This animation video is a project the kids created together as a group, our campers developed the story plot, designed the characters and made the sets themselves.

Other highlights included getting robots to navigate through a maze, building towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows, and laser cutting a variety of animals.

“Please bring a camp in the summer please I’m begging you please”
– Maker Camp participant feedback

“I think you guys nailed it. Robotics, stop animation, rockets, 3D printing, using the laser cutter… don’t think it gets better than that!”
– Maker Camp parent feedback