Category Archives: Vancouver Mini Maker Faire 2012

Meet Your Makers: David Gowman – The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra


David Gowman, or Mr. Fire-Man as he’s better known online, is a prolific instrument-maker, performer, orchestra leader and culture creator.


Mr. Fire-Man creates events that allow viewers to become participators. He trains volunteers to act as ‘shills,’ or prepared performers hidden in the audience. He also creates physical artworks (horns made from local, natural materials), and composes song structures that allow simple interactions to happen – such as a ‘Call and Response’ song.


The result of such meticulous preparation is not only to make musical instruments, but also to create a cultural moment that sicks in participants’ memories. The result is a unique event where the barrier between performer and audience is removed, resulting in the union of creator and consumer.


From his Maker Faire bio:


“In 2002 I made a horn from a stick of elderberry wood. It took about two hours of labour to produce a sound. Nine years later, a band called the Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra entertains with the descendants of that horn (there are over forty as of last count). Looking back, that simple act of burning a shaft through the pith to make a chamber was a turning point leading to a near decade of music, interactive art and instrument making.”


As I learned more about him, I became more and more intrigued. Homemade horns? More than forty of them? All made from natural materials? Combined to create a Horn Orchestra? And anyone can take part??




So I caught up with Mr. Fire-Man to find out more about his work, and hear what he plans to demonstrate at this year’s Maker Faire.


What’s the The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra all about? Can you describe your sound?


The Legion of Flying Monkeys is an interactive art project that happens to have an orchestra specializing in singalong music. We also have monkey puppets, parades of clowns, diabolical corporate geneticists and dangerously hypnotic lounge experiences, but perhaps for this interview I should focus on the orchestra.


Our sound is midway between Circus Sideshow and Zombie Apocalypse, though you should judge for yourself.


You make horns from local, natural materials such as old felt hats, hardwood branches, the dried stems of giant cow parsnip and papier mache. What are your favourite materials to work with, and why?


My current favourite material is empresswood because of its ease of carving, lightweight nature and speed of growth. Also, I am cultivating it locally at the Means of Production Garden with some success.  A well pruned empress will produce 18 feet of new, hollow growth in a season.



A neat thing about your live events is how they allow the viewers to become participants. Can you tell us more about how this works?


Most of our songs have an interactive element, meaning a part that the audience can sing (or yell as the case may be). Simple structures such as a call and response style facilitate easy entrance into the spirit of participation even for the uninitiated.


How can someone check out your events? When do they happen, and where  are they located?


My events are always posted on my website. Currently we’re playing Midsummer Fete at Colony Farms on Sunday June 24th, the Jazz Fest on Saturday July 1 in David Lam Park, the Railway Club on Wednesday July 18th (9pm) and Maker Faire before all of these, on the Saturday afternoon.


What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year? How interactive will it be?


I’ll be bringing several horns for random visitors to try, many alcohol wipes to disinfect them in-between, and a huge selection of razor sharp tools for children to handle (just kidding). You can expect loud horn blasts to emanate from my booth throughout the day.




Meet Your Makers: Rachael Ashe


Rachael Ashe is an emerging Vancouver artist working in the mediums of altered books, photography and collage. She often works with recycled materials and found objects to create three-dimensional altered books and mixed-media collage.


As well, she plays with paper, paint, rubber stamps, reclaimed papers, and old book pages to create her work. This particular piece is my favourite:



Her compositions feature whimsical scenes inspired by the natural world, and she combines colour, texture, and striking compositions to create imagery that is personal and expresses a love of imagination.


Being a bit of a book nerd (not just in terms of reading, but in terms of collecting idiosyncratic, book-related things), I was excited to pick Rachael’s brain to find out what she plans to demonstrate at this year’s Maker Faire, and to learn more about her artistic process.


Your work is beautiful, and I am a particular fan of your altered books. Can you walk me through your creative process?


Opus Art Supplies recently did a video feature about my work, and gives the viewer a terrific view of my process:



My process is iterative and often spontaneous. I do my best work when I get out of the way and let the ideas flow. With respect to the altered book work I create, the compositions I come up with are either inspired by a particular material or object I’d like to incorporate into a book, or because I’m experimenting with a new way of manipulating the pages through cutting, folding, etc. Most of the books I use to create altered books end up with me because someone no longer wanted them.



You often use recycled materials and found objects to make your art. What is the most unique found object you’ve ever worked with?


The most unique found object I’ve worked with to date would have to be a crow’s foot. I was working on a series called, Forgotten Knowledge, which combined natural found objects with a set of encyclopedias. I just happened to come across it in a park, and decided to use the foot in one of the books after carefully preserving it. I’ve also used bones in my compositions a few times.



Who / where do you look to for inspiration?


I get inspired by the materials I work with, and by the challenge of coming up with new ways of working, but the content of my work is heavily influenced by nature. I also make a point of meeting up with my fellow artists and makers because I get inspired and energized by sharing ideas with others.


Your work has been shown in cities all over North America and in the UK. Is there something about your work that makes it distinctly Canadian, or West Coast?


I’ve managed to show outside of Canada because I sought out those opportunities. I don’t really feel my work is distinctly Canadian or West Coast. I actually feel my work doesn’t fit very well at all into the Vancouver art scene.


What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?


As with last year, I’ll be displaying some of my recent work. I’ll also have a second table set up for people to hang out and make things from books and book pages. I recently acquired a donation of materials from a law library decommissioning some of their collection, and I’m bringing some of these along for people to work with. I won’t be teaching a formal workshop, just offering suggestions and guidance if needed. I’m curious to see what people will want to make, as it can be difficult for people to get their heads around working with books as a material.




Check our more of Rachael’s work on her website, twitter, and Facebook.


Young Makers @ MOV Postponed…


The Young Makers Club at the Museum of Vancouver will be postponed till Fall 2012. Come to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire on June 23 & 24 at the PNE to see some of our current Young Makers. There will also be a sign-up sheet to keep you informed about future Young Makers programs at the Museum of Vancouver.


We are excited about the future possibilities of this youth program and will need your support. If you are inspired to start your own Young Makers Club in your garage, backyard, workshop, or community centre you can find more information at


Check out what some other communities are doing with their Young Makers Clubs!

Saphira - A fire breathing dragon built by the Central Marin Young Makers Club




Insane for Indie? Hysterical for Handmade? Got Craft? is Too!


Got Craft? is Andrea + Robert: a husband and wife event management and wedding coordination team based in London, UK and Vancouver. Providing crafty wares to young, trendsetting individuals, they share a love for handmade indie craft that goes beyond the simple charms of the macaroni art piece.


Got Craft? aims to bring together a community that fosters handmade and DIY culture by supporting like-minded events such as DIY @ Museum of Vancouver, the Austin, TX and Vancouver Premiere of Handmade Nation, Swap-O-Rama-Rama 2009 and 2010, Vancouver Mini Maker Faire and the Sweetie Pie Press 2011 Summer Craft Tour.


When they’re not busy filling their blog with field trips and beloved crafty things, you can find Andrea and Robert selling their handmade goods at local events, or hosting fun and interactive badge-making workshops.


We recently caught up with Andrea to learn more about what Got Craft? is all about, and to find out what they plan to demonstrate at this year’s Maker Faire.


Can you talk a bit about what Got Craft? and Lotus Events is all about?


Lotus events inc. is an event management and wedding coordination company that Robert and I started in 2004 to work on a mix of corporate, independent contracts, and self-produced events such as Got Craft?. Got Craft?, aka myself and Robert, is a husband and wife team that shares a love for handmade indie craft. We are devoted to the Vancouver handmade community by supporting like-minded events such as DIY @ Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, the Vancouver Premiere of Handmade Nation, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, and Indie I Do.

As designers ourselves, we wanted to curate a boutique event to showcase some of our favourite handmade artists and provide Vancouver the opportunity to shop for one-of-a kind goods in a casual environment. Attendees are able to meet the makers in person to talk about their handmade goods and creative processes, as well as craft their own take home DIY project.

Aimed at bringing together a community that fosters handmade and DIY Culture, Got Craft? was founded in 2007 and is held twice a year in May and December featuring 50+ handmade designers and an average attendance of 3000+ a year.


What events do you host in the city, when do they happen, and where they are located?


As I mentioned above, we are we have been involved with events such as DIY @ Museum of Vancouver, the Austin, TX premiere of Handmade Nation, and the Sweetie Pie Press 2011 Summer Craft Tour. We are also happy to have had the opportunity to produce events such as the Vancouver Premiere of Handmade Nation, Swap-O-Rama-Rama 2009 and 2010, and the Sweetie Pie Press 2011 Summer Craft Tour. As well, we are super excited to be a part of the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire again this year!


What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?


Got Craft? will be hosting a DIY button-making workshop at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire! We’ll have two sizes of buttons for you to choose from including a large selection of pre-made patterns and custom Got Craft? images, or you can draw your own unique design! We’ll be on-hand to turn those creations into your own custom button!


Who are some of the crafters that came out to Got Craft’s event in early May? Any highlights, or new features?


Last May was one of our busiest Spring shows ever with the swag bag line up starting at 5:15am for a 10:00am door opening. We even had a special guest, Carol, that flew in from Chicago for the second time to attend the show!


We truly believe that it takes a village and we heart each and every one of our vendors! It wouldn’t be fair to us to have to choose our favourites, so you can check out our website for a full list of vendors that joined us for our Spring show.


Any exciting plans for Got Craft? in 2013?


We are always tweaking different aspects of the event or working on ways to make Got Craft? event better. We do have a few big announcements that we are working on, but you are just going to have to wait a bit longer!


To learn more about Got Craft?, preview their upcoming events on their website or check them out on Facebook.


Photo credits: [stu-di-o] by jeanie.