A Volunteer’s First Maker Faire

What a magical place! My first time at Mini Maker Faire was the overwhelming array of sights, sounds and motions that I had hoped for. The Makerverse was a hustling, bustling assault of the senses.

 

As an early morning volunteer, I headed to the front gate to begin my shift, passing the beginnings of stalls I saw many things that intrigued me: weird shapes protruding, projections screens expanding, messes of criss-crossing wires and circuits, cables being gaffered to the ground and strange objects lifted from boxes.  I wanted to explore, but I knew I had to focus on helping out. I spent the morning volunteering at ticketing, where I saw kids buzzing with excitement; jumping, squirming and smiling ear to ear. It’s good to see that the Maker movement has captured the hearts of those so young.

 

Silver Dog Vancouver Mini Maker Faire

 

When my shift was over, I was finally able to round the door and see what awaited me. Things spun and clicked and rolled and danced before my eyes. There were glowing lights and the whir of a helicopter overhead! Scents emanated from the perfume booth. A long, low, echoing note surprised me from a horn made from a hat. Strings and sculptures dangled. Visual projections warped and altered. Flashes went off from the callotype booth. Here I was, surrounded by making. I felt immersed in the joy of creation and sharing, and I too started to buzz with inspiration. If you are heading to Mini Maker Faire today, here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect to find.







Meet Your Makers: The Robots of Dan Royer

 

Hannah Miller interviewed Dan Royer

 

 

Dan Royer is coming to VMMF 2012 with a robot entourage. In this video, he talks about the moment he realised he needed something more fulfilling to dedicate himself to – and why robots are it for him.

 

 

 

 

What’s the first thing you can remember making earlier in life?

 

The first popular moving device that I made was a small mechano rotary fan that looked like a scale model of a windmill that I brought into the portables at my grade school in grade 5 or 6. I was the only kid who had a fan in this blistering hot little sweat box so I was quite popular. It was one of the few times that I was!

 

 

What is it like to be part of the Maker community at Vancouver Hack Space?

 

There are definitely minds here that think differently from mine. The projects that I work on tend to be big and complicated and they take a long time and a lot of patience. I see some people here who come up with simple things that can be done in minutes, that are beautiful to look at and just the concept alone – everyone gets it right off the bat. I just go, wow, because I don’t think that way. I’m so focussed on my goal and there was this beautiful thing off to the side and I wouldn’t have seen it, even if I was looking at it.

 

 

Since this is your second Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, what can we expect this weekend?

 

As a maker, expect to be standing on your feet for two days, expect to lose your voice, bring your water and your lunch prefaced and you will be smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

As a person who is visiting the Faire, pretty much the same thing. The few times I took a break and said watch my table I’m going to go around, I was just…I didn’t know where to look next, I was all over the place! There was a giant crab that walked. There was a woman making glass beads outside and you could participate and make your own glass marbles. There were paper planes that were flying around. There were all kinds of things that were lit up and moving that responded. There were sounds. There was some kind of thing you danced in front of and on a screen it showed you dancing there, but it was funky technology changed around…I don’t know how to put it. There were people with CNC machines – there’s a whole 3D printer village this year! Last year there were two 3D printers and a laser cutter. It’s grown enormously and it’s just going to be fantastic. I expect to be thoroughly awed.

 

 

 







Meet Your Makers: Barry Shell of Perfumes by Hido

 

Hannah Miller interviewed perfumer Barry Shell.

 

Barry Shell Amateur Perfumer

 

A organic chemist turned perfumery hobbyist, Barry Shell will be bringing his extensive collection of natural essential oils and other odorous compounds to VMMF. Barry introduced me to olfactory stimuli I’d never even heard of, let alone smelt – including something made from whale poop! Look for his booth this weekend so that you can make your own custom perfume sample, instead of just listening to me smell mine in the clip below.

 

 

One final question: Is there a scent that you wish you could bottle?

 

Sure, there’s tonnes of them. You know when you go on a hot summer day to a lake in the mountains and the rocks and the moss are sort of baking in the sun…you know, that smell.

 

 

If you’re interested in Barry’s comments about our inability to digitise smell, he’s written a great article on it here.

 







Making in Action at Car Free Vancouver

Did you notice all the making going on at yesterday’s busy Car Free Events around the city? There were plenty of opportunities for kids to try their hands, as well as makers demonstrating their crafts right before our eyes. Here’s what I spotted:

 

Car Free Day Felted Balls

 Felt ball making outside our sponsor Plush on Main

Car Free Day Button Making

Button making outside Regional Assembly of Text

Jesse Toso Chainsaw Carving

Jesse Toso chainsaw carving

 

 

If you missed out, make sure you get along to Mini Maker Faire this weekend to see more making than you’ve ever dreamt of!







Meet Your Makers: Kim Werker of Mighty Ugly

 

Hannah Miller interviewed Mighty Ugly project creator Kim Werker.

 

You’ll find Kim Werker’s Mighty Ugly table at VMMF littered with crafting odds and ends. You’ll notice the other participants at her table, their tongues stuck out in concentration, deeply engaged in constructing creatures that may strike you as not so pretty, or even – hideously ugly. Kim will invite you to join them and be a maker yourself. The one challenge: make something ugly – on purpose!

 

Mighty Ugly

 

As adults, there are times when our expectations or fears about the final product of our making may limit us. Would you say that Mighty Ugly takes the focus from the ultimate result and places it back onto the act of making itself?

 

Yes, Mighty Ugly definitely focuses us on the process of making, rather than on the product. I even tell participants to pay particular attention to the decisions they make as they work to create an ugly creature – how are those decisions different than the ones they make when they usually make stuff? Very few people end up keeping their ugly creature, which I find fascinating. We’re not usually so quick to toss our work in the trash, but I take this as evidence the focus on process over product really works.

 

 

Obviously, it’s a message that many creative-types can relate to. Have you had participants from unexpected industries apply your lesson?

 

My dream is to do Mighty Ugly with industry groups. Alas, thus far I’ve worked either with arts or crafts groups, and with individuals who participate at a large event like Maker Faire. But there are definitely some participants I remember clearly. There was the man at last year’s Vancouver Mini Maker Faire who participated with his young son. As his son happily made his own creature, the man literally sweated through making his entirely out of buttons. He explained to me that he has a button phobia, so to him, a creature made of buttons is the ugliest thing he could imagine (I thought it was adorable; he was horrified by it). And I once had an artist in a workshop use only staples to assemble her creature, explaining that in her opinion, technology has no place in art.

 

Who do you think struggles the most to make something ugly?

 

I’m always surprised that I don’t find distinct patterns in this. Certainly artists and crafters exhibit the most discomfort. But once people get going, regardless of their background and their experience, I think it’s the perfectionists who have the hardest time.

 

 

Even though the challenge is to make an ugly creature, the creatures documented in your flickr pool could be seen as beautiful in their originality! How do you define ugly and beautiful within your project?

 

Heh. I don’t. I push other people to talk about *their* definitions of ugly and beautiful.

 

Something I do stress is that Mighty Ugly allows us to explore beauty by paying very close attention to a quality we often try to pretend has no place in our work (ugly). And I also stress that my hope is that through the exercise of making something ugly on purpose, people will see that there’s great value in exploring our concept of ugly. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugly. See my comment about the man’s adorable/terrifying button creature, above.

 

 

What lessons do you bring from your Mighty Ugly experiences to your other crafting work, when it requires you to follow a pattern, or make something wearable or fashionable?

 

I’m much, much more relaxed as a crafter now. I’m far more comfortable ripping something out and starting again if I’m unhappy with what I’m doing – and I’m also more comfortable living with mistakes. I’m more inclined to try something that intimidates me, instead of shying away. I almost never feel shame anymore if I fail miserably when I try something new. And I’m far more comfortable admitting my ignorance about something, and asking lots of questions.