Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Maker Faire. Permission to Play

Permission To Play
Saturday, I left my house at dawn and headed down to San Mateo for a day at Maker Faire. It was my first experience with this extravanganza, but it won't be my last. As the sign says: the day emphasized the permission to play.

I started with a four hour volunteer stint: first directing the Bizarre Bazaar crafters on parking their cars (whee! fun! I felt like the Safety Patrol all over again!). While at my station, Tamie Snow and Missy Ballance wandered by wearing these fabulous aprons! The vendor who sewed them sold out to other vendors before the fair even opened! Check 'em out!
Tamie Snow and Missy Ballance Model GREAT aprons

Afterwards, the killer opportunity to help set up Make. Play. Day. The guys running that show admitted they were not crafty-types.. much more into the makey part, so they welcomed my crafty enthusiasm! Boxes of papers, googly eyes, dingle balls, stuff were divied up (half for Saturday, half for Sunday) and spread out on the supply tables. Then the "project" tables were "salted" with goodies to kick-start anyone's imagination.

After the doors opened, families would wander innocently wander in, find a space and begin to play. Violet Blue (site NWS), said of her time working there:
Play Day was so much fun: there’s nothing as cool as watching kids smash keyboards with mallets and hammers, or seeing little girls make elaborate buildings out of circuit boards (or make their own armor and stage combat with weapons made from colorful industrial scrap). I think Play Day needs to be happening somewhere every day.
At one point, I revisited the room, stood in the center and quietly filmed the experience.

After putting in my time, I began my wanders through the Craft Section. The Crafty Chica was there helping people make beautiful little matchbox alters, complete with images from her new line, paint and glitter. LOTS of glitter. I wandered through and until I found myself in the Swaparama.

Swaparama! Imagine a cross between GoodWill and Project Runway with a maximum 8 hour time limit. People were invited to bring clothes they no longer used, then choose items from other people's donations. You could take whatever you wanted with a catch: they wanted you to refashion the clothing that day! There were people slicing and stitching, embossing and screening, creating something new and wonderful from a pile of discards. I saw someone making what looked like it would be a fetching corset from the top of some overalls. (now why didn't anyone think of THAT during the PR denim challenge?).

Again, a quiet (by me) look around the room. Note to self: learn to talk while shooting video:

Finally I hit the great outdoors. There was so much to see!

A pedal-powered shuttle bus that carried folks from one part of the fairgrounds to another! All the travelers looked happy as they cheered their way along.

A Jeep covered with "lego base material" plus hundreds of legos for kids to add! This is Art Car 101!
Lego Jeep

Janine, the fabulous glass bead maker. Check out her necklace!
Jenine Making Glass Bead

A variety of contraptions turned into bicycles. This lawn-mower bike was not as easy to manuveur at one might think!

Corey Fogel, a musician and performance artist, whose knitting needles play his drums.

Power tools (like this Ryobi circular saw) turned into racing vehicles!
Power Tool Racer - Circular Saw, flower power

And impressive Heavy Metal sculpture abounding:
Steel Cable Man

Heavy Metal Woman

There was a little fire, this courtesy of the Flaming Lotus Girls.
Flaming Lotus Girls Structure

I made through most of the exhibits in the day, though I never caught the robot wars. In the Maker Shed (I think) Lion Yarns set up a demo area, complete with a "living room"-like knitting area. It was jam-packed with women relaxing and sharing.

This year, Maker Faire made the decision to add a number of fire exhibits in the evening. After my early start, and without gloves or a jacket, I just couldn't make myself stay there and wait until the sun went down. But next year? Next year.. I'm throwing extra stuff in my car and hanging out till close to the bitter end!

And if you couldn't make Maker Faire in the bay area this spring, you might plan to make to Maker Faire Austin, October 18th and 19th.

What others said about the event.

Again Violet Blue:
What I love about Maker Faire is that it has gone from an outcropping of a seeming O’Reilly side project into a full-blown arts festival, in the most serious and international sense. On the surface it has the feeling of a homegrown arts and crafts fair slash outsider arts gathering: in truth it’s the closest thing we have to something that reflects current, modern American artists (and contributors from other countries) in their most essential, non-hippie or homogenized state. Really: it’s the nearest we have to an authentic , slightly guerrilla international arts gathering. Simply for the sake for sharing and growing with other artists, not for some BS highbrow grant-gathering art machine, or for impotent bourgeois conceptual salvos onto an empty landscape of Kooons’ and Barney’s. And I’m not just saying this because my friends organize it and produce it: I’ve been there every year, I’ve worked international arts festivals and orgs since 1996, and I know what I’m talking about. It’s a place to *be*.
Matt Cutts shares some great crafty photos and explains it all:
Man, I love Maker Faire. It’s almost as if Burning Man mated with Slashdot.
LifeClever says: Maker Faire is the Magic Kingdom for Geeks.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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