Category Archives: Made in Vancouver

Meet Your Maker: Zaber Technologies

 

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Zaber Technologies is a Vancouver-based manufacturer of computer-controlled motorized linear slides, miniature linear actuators, motorized rotary stages, and other devices. Make sure you stop by their booth this year to catch all the moving parts! They’ll have several interactive demos, including a “Microsurgery Game”, interactive musical stages called the “Zee Board”, laser-cut give-aways that will be made at the booth, and “Big Zed” – a moving/changing Z-shape that lights up. In fact, they’re bringing so many different projects to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire that we had to talk to several of them to put together the details for this article!

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What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?

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Several Zaberians (people who work at Zaber) have gotten together to make the following:

Frank’s project: Micro-surgery game – Think “Operation”, but miniaturized and with a joystick.
Justin’s project: Big Zed – A giant, multi-part, moving, 3D “Z”.
Aaron and Connor’s project: Zee-board  – Make your own music with our stages.
Dan’s project: Laser cut give-away – Something to take home and make yourself!

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What else do you guys make?

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Zaberians have been known to make a lot of things, including music, automata mechanisms, heliostats, etc…

 

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?

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Frank: I’m an engineer and my work projects are expensive, complicated and precise. Building personal projects helps me develop my skills in new areas with low risk. My least favourite part is not having the right tool for a job or waiting for parts. The most challenging part is finding time.

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Connor: My two favourite parts about being a Maker are the satisfaction of seeing something I created come to life, and the look of enjoyment and surprise on people’s faces when they see the project for the first time.  My least favourite parts (which thankfully haven’t happened this year) are the rare occasions that someone calls into question the usefulness of spending time on the project.  The most challenging part would definitely be when I’m 20 hours into a 5 hour project and it finally feels like I’m about halfway there.

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Justin: Favourite part about being a Maker is the simple joy of creating, sucking sawdust, getting my hands dirty, and problem solving. I’m also able to express my sense of humour through my creations (when possible) which otherwise may go unnoticed from day to day by others. I also actually on occasion make myself laugh because you never know exactly how things will turn out….
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Dan: I’ve never called myself a Maker, but I like making things. My favourite part is starting projects, when every idea is possible. The most challenging part is finishing them.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

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Frank: I became an engineer as I enjoyed designing and building things. It comes from years and years of training with Lego.
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Connor: I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that allows me to embrace my passion for making and work on cool projects, so my passion for making manifests itself almost daily at work. It’s hard to trace the passion for making since I’ve had it for as long as I can remember; however, I can say that my family has fostered my curiosity and enthusiasm for making since I was a small child.
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Justin: Being a ‘Maker’ is a central part of my soul. I create and ‘make’ at home constantly, so much so a day without ‘Making’ would be fairly unusual. Making comes from a desire to create and express where words rarely can be used or are insufficient -OR in some cases words are just a waste of time. One glance, you get it…

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Dan: I try to do my own car and bicycle repair. I get to make lots of prototypes at work. A lot of it comes from pride; I think I can do a better job than what’s out there, or I care more about the end result, so I end up doing things myself.

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Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

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Frank: Yes, building a Lego gun with a trigger that could shoot Lego blocks about 5m when I was 8.

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Connor: I have been interested in making for as long as I can remember, but I would have to say I was initially more of a watcher and un-Maker – staring at construction sites and taking apart old appliances.  My earliest memory of creating rather than dismantling something is probably one of the hundreds of Lego or science kit projects I undertook as a child.

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Justin: I have been a ‘Maker’ all my life from very young. My earliest projects included a dozen or so tree forts, a Return of the Jedi Scout Walker made entirely out of cardboard and wire (because we were very poor and I couldn’t afford the proper model kit), and a large aerial view diorama of Kennedy Space Center made on a large table in my folks basement – which was inspired by the excitement of the first Space Shuttle launch.

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Dan: I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid. I think that has something to do with it. I also did origami with my mom. I probably inherited some of her Japanese “eye-for-details”.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

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Frank: Dan Gelbart. There are few other engineers that are so proficient at design, machining, and prototyping with such a broad range of expertise and experience.
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Connor: I don’t really have a favourite Maker, or even a favourite project.  If I had a dollar for every time I was blown away by the creativity, complexity and detail of another Maker’s creation, I’d be able to retire and just spend my time building things for fun… however taking into consideration what I get to do at work, I probably wouldn’t.

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Justin: Hands down automata artist Paul Spooner. A close second is Tim Hunkin and his ‘Secret Life of Machines’ BBC series.

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Dan: Tesla, but I guess that’s a pretty popular answer, so maybe Curt Herzstark.

 

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

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Frank: You usually learn the most from failures. I actually enjoy massive failures, because that it is something that I’ll never forget and eliminates an approach, technique, or at least makes for an interesting story.

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Connor: To paraphrase Thomas Edison “I have not failed.  I’ve just found another way that will not work.”

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Justin: I have to, it’s who I am. Cliché but true. You always learn something from a failed project. The next one is ALWAYS better than the last.

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Dan: It’s whoever I promised something great to. If I don’t tell anyone about a project, I will probably just leave it in a box when it stops being fun, but if I tell someone about it, I feel obligated to deliver something, and nobody likes delivering something below expectations. This is why I usually don’t like showing unfinished work.

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What is it about Maker Faire that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

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We like that Zaberians can get together to make something using our products. The process is fun, challenging, and team building.  We also really like that VMMF is a family event. It might sound cliché, but we look forward to the “show and tell” aspect of VMMF. We like to talk about what we have made, but we also enjoy seeing other people’s projects. We are still kids at heart!

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

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Zaber’s roots are in “Making”. The company’s founders are Makers, and a lot of Zaberians are too. We also understand the vital role “making” and creativity play in building a strong community. All of the groups who participate in VMMF – crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, science clubs, students, authors, and commercial exhibitors – get together because they are passionate about making things. We feel like we have a lot in common with these folks – some of them may even one day work at Zaber or go on to start their own companies. We find this very exciting.

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For more background on Zaber’s progress for VMMF projects, please visit Zaber on Facebook to see more photos and write-ups.

 

Meet Your Maker: Heike Kapp, Glass Artist

 

MYM-Heike-KappHeike Kapp is a local glass artist, and a perennial favourite of Vancouver Mini Maker Faire attendees. She creates glass jewelry, marbles, and small-scale objects, and is returning to the show this year with her collection of striking flamework marbles. Heike was a quilter for many years and enjoyed the tactile and three-dimensional aspects of textile art very much. After completing courses at Joanne Andrighetti‘s glasswork studio, she started incorporating her own soft-glass beads in her work, but was more and more drawn to the sculptural and magnifying properties of clear borosilicate glass. Heike now sells her glass pieces at craft fairs and online, and her goal is to create objects that enrich the owner’s life.

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What are you exhibiting at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?

Glass marbles.

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What else do you make?

Art quilts and photography.

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part?

My favourite part is letting my creativity run wild; my least favourite part is being forced to triage my creative ideas to fit into the limited amount of time I have for making.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life?

I show people who think they are not creative how to be a maker, with the abilities they already have. Sometimes it just takes a small spark!

 

How did your passion for making originate?

My parents always encouraged and helped me to be a maker, my mom was very crafty and my dad was a practical tinkerer.

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What’s your earliest memory of making?

I’ve always been a maker; my earliest memory is of making a rattle from a cardboard cheese box, glue, and rice.

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Who’s your favourite Maker?

I have to pick just one? Impossible! Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, John Kobuki, Gerda Conzetti, Sandra Meech, my dad.

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

There is always a new project on the horizon.

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What is it about Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor?

Maker Faire is so wonderfully different from any of the events that I attend. The exhibitors and visitors are so inquisitive and have such a positive attitude, the atmosphere lifts me up and carries me on a high that lasts for most of the year.

I love what I do, and what gives me the greatest joy is seeing the surprise and wonderment in the eyes of the person holding one of my pieces for the first time.

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Check out Heike’s pieces in our Maker Faire Marketplace; her marbles are like whole universes unto themselves, and they make great gifts for the hard-to-shop for – or for yourself! To keep up-to-date on her work, follow her on facebook.

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New for 2014: Maker Faire Marketplace!

The Vancouver Maker Foundation and Vancouver Mini Maker Faire are proud of our ability to provide an incubation ground for new Makers, and support for established Makers who are looking for new ways to grow. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that this year we’ve got a whole new area of the Faire dedicated to just that! The Maker Faire Marketplace is your spot for finding unique and interesting handmade goodies, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in town.

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new-vendors

Many of our Marketplace participants are brand new to the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, and we’re really excited to welcome them to our little club! Elgin Vine is bringing his handmade bags and leatherwork items, and Kukubee will be there with their zipper pouches, paper goods, and accessories. Stop by the eBoy booth to check out their  modular Blockbob toys and their city posters, built of modular pixel elements. Strathcona 1890 will be at the Faire with their carefully-curated seed collections, perfectly suited to growing in any Vancouver garden.

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marketplace-clothes

Is your wardrobe looking for a little pick-me-up? Stop by the Blu Pixie, Devil May Wear, and DRIFT booths for gorgeous and unique finds. If you need something a little more casual, Locomotive is back this year with their awesome collection of t-shirts, just in time for summer.

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VMMF-Food

As always, we’ve got an awesome group of food trucks lined up to keep you fed at the Faire -but don’t forget to stop by our Marketplace and grab some treats for later! We’re delighted that Living Lotus is back this year, and excited to welcome Chickadee Family Bakery. In true Maker Faire spirit (and for those of you more patient than hungry), Make Cheese is back with their cheese-making kits.

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marketplace-jewelry

Need a little treat for yourself? Alie & Droid is back with their quirky, handmade items for everyone’s inner geek, and PHRESHA is bringing their 2014 line of jewelry and accessories, ON THE PROWL. Also back this year: Parrotphernalia, with their feather-based jewelry and accessories – as far as we know, the only place in town to get humane feather jewelry. Jewelry makers Umbrella Bird and Dalliance and Design are both joining us for the first time this year, and on Sunday, June 8th only we’ll be joined by Sublime Sisters, a Young Maker team of two sisters.

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giving-back-vendors

Two of our Marketplace vendors give as good as they get. The African Fair Trade Society produces organic shea butter-based soap, shampoo, and skin lotion in an environmentally sensitive manner and without animal testing, and  then uses the profits of their shea butter sales to channel micro-aid to small, impoverished communities in Western Africa. Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA) works with emerging women artisans in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to develop an alternative form of business or employment that is grounded in the needs and realities of their participants. Look for their jewelry, paintings, art cards, headbands, dream catchers, and pottery in the VMMF Marketplace.

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holiday-headstart

Maybe you think June is too early to get started on your holiday shopping? Think again! Glass artist Heike Kapp, steampunk artist Professor Whovianart, and local collective Queen Bee can all help you with those hard-to-shop-for people that you’ll be fretting about in December.

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Stop by the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Marketplace and feel good about indulging in a little treat for yourself or someone you love!

Tiny House community project

Zee's tiny house project!
My name is Zee and I am facilitating a tiny house workshop project build. Using salvaged materials, you can learn basic construction skills and the final product will be used as a tiny mobile community centre for Makers to host workshops and share skills with the community.

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I love tiny spaces!  Last year, along with a group of teachers and community leaders, I co-founded the MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels, a traveling classroom, hackspace and art studio in a renovated Ford Econoline van.  While working on this project, I started researching alternative mobile spaces for living and working and came across tiny houses in the process.

 

Do you want to learn to build a house or help this project happen?  

Check out the rest of the article here. Email me to find out more!

 

Zee Kesler is an Community Based Artist and mentor for kids 3-18. She is the co founder of the MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels and facilitates the Maker Education Initiative  Meetup alongside Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Director Emily Smith.