Bay Area Maker Faire 2012

May 31, 2012

A full week after the Maker Faire, and we are finally getting back to normal. For those who are unfamiliar, the Maker Faire is pure Nerdvana. It’s a DIY festival that is something like a family friendly cross between Burning Man and an adult Science Fair. It covers everything from SteamPunk to Amigurumi, from crocheted C’thulu ski mask to ultra high precision 3D printed metal components. From “grow your own mushrooms” to building your own solid state singing Tesla coils… and we can’t forget the other fun stuff like a 65 foot long fire breathing metal dragon that carries passengers. We didn’t get many pictures, but check out the flickr feed for thousands of photos

Thousands of makers showing off their jobs, their hobbies, or their pet projects – and all of them eager to teach you how they did it is more than a bit overwhelming.  I simply can’t describe what happens when you put that many happy geeks in one place, but I can tell you that it is a truly amazing experience.  We have been to several previous events, but this was our first year as a presenter. With over 100,000 visitors on Saturday alone, it was an exhausting, and very very different experience, but we still had a blast and we will be doing it again.  Author Dale Wheat described it this way. “It may be the only place in the world that, if someone yelled ‘FIRE’, everyone within earshot would run TOWARDS them.”

It was in that spirit that we decided to actually participate this year.  Several years ago, we redid our kitchen countertop in resin cast pennies, and poured a secondary bartop for a local Absinthe lounge. The project how to has been very popular on Make Projects, so we decided to show some additional resin work, and do a public demonstration of how to do it. If you are interested in trying it for yourself, you can see the handout from the demonstration here, or check out the project page.

Because the Maker Faire is all about encouraging people to tinker and actually do new things, James also created a small “make and take” demo project that people could make for themselves. He engraved and painted the front of a small piece of wood with the maker faire mascot, and then routed a small well that would hold a single penny. People were able to select or provide their own pennies, and set them into the well. Then, using a quick setting two part epoxy, we taught them how to mix and apply the resin so they were able to create their own resin cast souvenir. It was quick and simple, but it proved to be rather popular, and we ended up running through each day’s supply of blocks by shortly after lunch.

We brought 3 people along to help out and we thought that with 5 of us, it should be easy for 2-3 people to hold down the booth and get the rest out and explore the faire. We were very wrong. I have to issue a public “Thank You”, and “I’m Sorry” to Donna, James & Ellie. We were on a very prominent corner, and we were busy from the moment the gates opened until they started turning off the lights to force people to leave. We all talked until we started to lose our voices, and kept talking anyway. They finally got to see a little bit of the faire late on Sunday, but not nearly enough of it. Thank you all for making it such a huge success, and my apologies for not doing a better job of getting you out there to enjoy yourself ( We’ll do better next year ). We could not have done it without you.