Vancouver Mini Maker Faire + Mom = Bliss

Vancouver’s second annual Mini Maker Faire witnessed a sea of smiling faces two weekends ago, as local makers shared, entertained and inspired the city’s hungry minds.

 

Being a volunteer, I was eager to share the experience, so I invited my parents along.

 

There was plenty to see and do — but what first? 3D printer village? Perfume mixing? Soldering? Painting with bikes? Felted beads? Mushboo? Disaster Area?

 

More than 100 makers were busy tinkering, weaving, hacking, playing handmade horns, drawing with robots, and carving faces out of sand.

 

It was a thrill for the senses and a feast for the mind.

 

During a short break, and in between bites of scrumptious pakora, I asked my mom what she thought of the event.

 

“It reminds me of the mentality we had in the 60s and 70s, you know, getting back to the garden,” she mused. “Everybody wanted to make their own things — clothes, macramé, growing their own food, working with leather. Only people would do it in small groups. Nobody would have put an event together like this.”

 

Right on! A gold star from my mom! And she’s right on too. The event is organic. It’s educational. It’s loopy and it’s kooky, but most of all it’s fun. It’s a nerd’s paradise, no matter what kind of nerd you are.

 

As I listened to my mom speak, I looked inside my purse full of little handmade trinkets, some of which I made myself onsite. I felt so inspired.

 

“It’s the beginning of something,” she said. “I’m not sure what exactly. It feels like Circle Craft, deconstructed.”

 







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: 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.