Category Archives: Meet your Makers

Meet Your Maker: Lee’s Electronic

MYM-Lee's-ElectronicLee’s Electronic was established in the heart of Vancouver in 1993, and has been proudly serving local businesses, manufacturers, and people for more than 20 years. They are one of few remaining electronic component stores in the lower mainland. They provide multilingual technical support for students of all levels, from elementary to undergraduate. They’re huge supporters of the Maker scene in general, and the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in particular. They answered our “Meet Your Maker” questions the way they do everything else – as a team!

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What is Lee’s exhibiting at VMMF this year?

We are making a wirelessly controlled mini tank using a Raspberry Pi micro-computer (we called it the PiTank). Viewers will be able to navigate the tank through obstacles and hopefully if we can make more than two, the tanks might play soccer or a game against one another. This exhibit is to introduce micro-controllers to the general public and how easily available it is for everyone to join into the fun of building.

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What else do you make?

Members of the team each have their own individual projects, like autonomous romba vacuums, lego machines, car custom lighting, and IOS/Android app development.

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part?
Our favourite part about being Makers is the feeling one gets after working on a project for many, many days and when you power it up, IT WORKS! That feeling is extraordinary – everyone needs to experience it! Our least favourite part would be struggling to debug code that you know should work, but doesn’t. It’s tedious – but when you find the problem, it’s very rewarding!
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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?
The curiosity for newer and better ways to solve current problems and future problems encourages us Makers to strive forward.
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Have you been a maker your whole life? 

Some of us on the team have been Makers since an early age, and some have just joined the team not too long ago. Our team members come from various different fields of study and work; fields such as human kinetics, computing science, engineering, chemistry, linguistics, and industrial design.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Some of our favourite Makers include Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (Myth Busters), Ben Heck (Element 14), and historical makers like Thomas Edison.

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

Other Makers in the community are a huge inspiration. When you see how their projects have changed the lives of so many people, and how you yourself may be using their invention, it makes you wonder how you can contribute back.

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

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is a great way to not just show your projects, but to invite others to also be curious and introduce them to the new era of electronics. We’re really looking forward to seeing all the interesting projects other Makers are working on.

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. In fact, Lee’s has supported VMMF right from the start! What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

We have been around for more than 20 years empowering students, hobbyist, and Makers of all ages with the parts and tools they need. We -along with organizations like the Vancouver Hackspace- have been working to build communities of makers and all interested in electronics. We are grateful to see an organization like Vancouver Mini Maker Faire also shares this vision with us. We believe that the VMMF is an awesome event that everyone needs to see and experience for themselves.

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Find out more about Lee’s Electronic at the 2014 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, on their website, or on their Facebook page.

 

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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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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!

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Opening Soon: Laser Cutter Cafe in Chinatown

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Ever had your tea with a side of laser cutting? You’ll soon be able to at Vancouver’s newest (red) hotspot, The Laser Cutter Cafe, popping up June 26 on Columbia Street in Chinatown.
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Inspired by similar ideas in Tokyo and San Francisco, owner Derek Gaw wanted to bring the accessibility of public-space laser cutting to Vancouver. With his Full Spectrum Laser Cutter, Derek can make everything from business cards printed on wood veneer to etched glass, puzzles, sculpture and signage. He can take photos, text or graphics and etch them onto plywood or glass, and cut through wood, plastic or cardboard. Derek demonstrated The Laser Cutter Cart at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year, and had a slew of visitors come by to see just how easy it is to do their own laser cuts.

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Intrigued, I caught up with Derek to find out more about this unique project that’s sure to bring a smile to our city.

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Can you elaborate on what the laser cutter cafe is all about?
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The Laser Cutter Cafe is a cafe (we serve tea and stuff) that has laser cutters for anybody to use. Come make something and have some tea while you’re at it. In addition to our namesake tool, we’ll also have other things to play with, like 3D printers, a CNC router, a vinyl cutter, a textiles lab, and an electronics lab.
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Tea and lasers! Delicious combo. Where did the idea come from?
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The Laser Cutter Cafe was inspired by equal parts FabCafe in Tokyo (above) and TechShop in San Francisco. When I moved back to Vancouver, I missed having ready access to laser cutters, so I decided to get some myself to share with everybody.
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Can you describe what people can expect when they visit the cafe? Do you provide supplies?
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When you walk in, you’ll probably see someone using a laser cutter right in front of you. You’ll smell a hint of of campfire from the plywood they’re cutting to make a coaster for their tea cup. And then you’ll notice a whole slew of laser cut products for sale and display. First time visitors can take a quick safety and usage tutorial, and be laser cutting their own stuff in half an hour. We’ll have an inventory of ready-to-laser materials, or you can bring in your own, assuming it’s safe and approved by us.
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Why do you think the maker movement is going strong in Vancouver?
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Vancouver’s maker movement is growing strongly in part because it has a ways to catch up to more established maker cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Our west coast siblings are great role models, and we get to learn from their failures and successes.
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Why’s it important to share skills and knowledge?  
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It’s much easier than making all the mistakes for yourself (although sometime, that approach is quite educational).
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So check them out on or after June 26! Until then, you can start plotting your newest laser-cut project. See you at the Cafe!
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Laser Cutter Cafe 1
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Photos courtesy of Derek Gaw, except Fab Cafe photo, courtesy of www.spoon-tamago.com
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