Thursday, June 04, 2009

Maker Faire. Are You A Maker?

RT @SisterDiane: Okay, here's the plan: Maker Faire becomes some kind of permanent geek village, and we all go live there together. You in? #mf09*
I am one of the many folk who -like Sister Diane - would SO be in to moving to Maker Faire village! Yet, early this week friends asked about the one thing that left the biggest impression: that experience that was the the pen-ultimate explanation of Maker Faire. I was left speechless. How do I condense fire sculptures, craft bizarre, wardrobe refashioning in real time, technology demonstrations, R2D2, the Lost in Space robot, uniquely designed bicycles, Lego's heaven, Burning Man ethic, etc. into one clear item? I can't.

Katherine Sharpe of ReadyMade tried to explain it also in Understanding Maker Faire:
Maker Faire feels like a lot of things that are familiar: a country fair, a science fair, a basement rocketry club outing, a hippie teach-in, shop class, computer camp, Burning Man, a trade show or three. And yet, in combination, they become unfamiliar, unique.

...Maker Faire seems to me to be about fusing this age-old tradition of the amateur expert, making things, with a new generation of technology—instead of doing wild things with car engines, Makers are doing wild things with iPods and LEDs. It’s also about adopting a certain attitude towards making. The attitude feels almost ’60s-countercultural, but without the self-righteousness. Or maybe it has more to do with the late-’60s drive to self sufficiency; personal empowerment is a big theme here. In the words of Wired editor Chris Anderson at the panel on open-source hardware, “You can’t count on the consumer electronics industry to make what you want.” The ethos of the Faire is fiercely individualistic yet also about cooperation and community (as opposed to bureaucracy).There’s a feeling that bending technology to one’s own means is an act of rebellion, but of playful, minor rebellion, more on the order of a meaningful prank than organized political action.
I'm sure I missed more at this year's fair than I know. TreeHugger highlighted Ceallach dyes display in the sustainable village, where they were selling yarn dyed using solar power. HOW DID I MISS THIS??
Ceallach Dyes is a new hand dyed yarn line that uses a simple box that captures the heat from the sun to set the dyes. Many dyers will use the microwave or oven, but this company has chosen to go renewable.

The box is simply lined with aluminum foil and covered in a glass lid. The heat generated is more than enough to gently set the dyes, avoiding the use of electricity generated from non-renewable, dirty sources.
Perhaps the overwhelming crowds were the reason I missed seeing most of the sustainable village. Tracy Elaine from Passing Open Windows had no problem sharing some of her photos -though, she too, admitted that many couldn't be taken because of the crowds. She managed to capture the essence of SteamPunk, show some of the outdoor displays, and caught the wonders of Patchwerk Press doing free screen printing as part of the Scrap-a-Rama. I'll admit it, I almost took off my t-shirt to get a cool screen printed.

One of the neat items at the show was the MakeReady Journal available to attendees. The journals not only fit with the fair's theme of Re-Make America, it highlights the techniques from Jeannine Stein's new book: Re-Bound.

Others Who Attended:

Kristen from Craft Leftovers posted on the fun of Makers Day- the day that vendors set up, meet up, and visit amonst themselves before the crowds appear. During the weekend, Kristen taught mending techniques from her booth. Then she rounded up the Weekend when the Faire was over.

Sewing Demos on the CRAFT stage, we took turns teaching people to mend.

And then I came home and slept for 11 hours, haha. In many ways I feel like my stay in San Francisco is really just starting. It’s been a blast. I met so many great people at the Faire and now I’m meeting so many great people here in town.

In many ways I feel like all the many people came by, but then, on the other hand, i did give away all 200 zines plus about 400 of the Mending on the Go zine! So that right there tells me the mass of the people flowing by. So wonderful.

If I met you at the faire, it was so nice to meet you and welcome to Craft Leftovers - the blog all about making with what you have on hand!
If you're wondering if Maker Faire is really a family affair (I offer a loud, resounding YES!) CRAFT included a look at the fair from a pre-teen's perspective.

I, being a 12-year-old girl, was more than overwhelmed by the throngs of people with cup creations and tape wallets marching around to get from one hall to the others. Other than that, it was a crafter's dream. Every which way there another spectacle. Whether it was Japanese art or adorable felt toys, there was no way you could be bored. There was always some tutorial or show we could see. The first day we went, my seven-year-old brother accompanied us. To put it nicely, Milo is fascinated with LEGO. I should say obsessed. Anyways, when he reached the LEGO exhibit, he freaked. He screamed. He yelled. I mean that literally. After that piercing example of excitement, he raced to the LEGO buildings. My mom said that I could go find something to look at while he played. Next, I wandered to the Ponko table, where they displayed their innovative methods of creating laser-cut art. I made a bracelet made of plastic with a laser-cut tree design. It was so awesome.
Wish to get some of the visual impact of the weekend? Average Jane Crafter posted a collection of photos on Flickr: Maker Faire Bay Area 2009

Finally, one of the biggest mechanical wonders at the fair was Christian Risto's Hand of Man. This large mechanical hand is controlled by one human wearing a special glove. That's all I can say before I suggest you watch the video. Courtesy of MAKE:

NOT in the Bay area and wishing you could attend a Maker Faire? There have been faires held in Austin, TX., and Newcastle, UK. As MAKE gains more experience, I'd expect you might eventually find one on the east coast as well. It does not matter. If there is any way for you to attend a Maker Faire, do so! I fear our dream of a Maker Village is even further in the future.

*beginning quote from @SisterDiane's twitter stream.

(crossposted at BlogHer).

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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