In a scene that would seem more in place on the Black Rock Desert playa at Burning Man, science fiction inspired vehicles, electro-mechanical creatures and pedal-powered creations of shapes and sizes traversed a field of surreal and sometimes fire-spitting art installations.
Tens of thousands turned out for the 8th annual Bay Area Maker Faire last weekend in San Mateo. Billed as “The Greatest Show (And Tell) on Earth,” the family-friendly event featured interactive art and technology exhibits, a speaker series and how-to demonstrations.
The event was produced by Maker Media, publishers of Make Magazine, which features instructions for do-it-yourself projects for everything from woodworking to robotics.
According to the official website, the event is a “festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.”
On-stage highlights included Adam Savage of the Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” and viral video duo EepyBird who’s Diet Coke and Mentos geyser launched the pair into internet history in 2006. Clad in their signature white lab coats, the former professional juggler and trail lawyer recreated their famous experiment on stage, turning 101 bottles of Coke Zero into soda-spewing geysers reminiscent of the fountains at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas.
More than 350 artists, tinkerers and creative thinkers from around the Bay Area and the globe participated in the event as “makers,” showcasing a gamut of wares ranging from crochet and printmaking to the latest robotics and quad-rotor drone [remote-controlled helicopter] technology. There were also how-to demonstrators on topics such as urban farming and making homemade preserves.
More than 20 Marin County residents exhibited projects, including several made by precocious preteens. Six elementary and middle school-aged children demonstrated projects created with the support of the Young Builder’s Club at the Marin Regional Occupation Program’s Media Center at the Intel Clubhouse in San Rafael.
“We work with young makers for a season — from January to May — and during that time we go through five steps,” said coordinator Sara Bolduc, who has been bringing young students to the Maker Faire for the past three years. “Exhibition is an important step, but it’s not the most important.”
Leaf Allen, 11, of San Rafael demonstrated his Moon Boots and Sky Surfer board, which are strapped to the feet and allow the user to glide across smooth surfaces atop industrial airbags that are normally used to lift heavy objects.
“They float on the ground like a hovercraft,” Allen said. “I looked online and saw lots of pictures of fake hovercrafts. My idea was to make one that works.”
Allen has been working on the project for about six months, and it’s still in development. Currently, he is experimenting with different types of air compressors. He hopes to eventually create a backpack-mounted system.
Elias Brune Deuss, 12, of San Rafael, built a remote-controlled submarine made from plastic piping and scavenged parts and equipped it with a video camera for underwater viewing.
Deuss has built his own remote-controlled vehicles in the past, including a crane and an airplane.
“I love making remote-controlled things, and I always wondered what it would be like to build a submarine,” he said.
Sustainability was a recurring theme in many of the exhibits.
College of Marin student Emily Wong demonstrated her technique for crocheting and knitting with reclaimed consumer products. The material is cut into long, narrow strips. Other than that, the methods are similar as with yarn, Wong said.
“There’s so much of this stuff in the garbage,” Wong said. “And it makes really good art material.”
Wong displayed a purse woven from strips cut from old T-shirts and hat, water bottle carrier and reusable bag all made from discarded grocery bags.
Wong, who also teaches origami workshops at the Mill Valley Public Library, encourages the use of non-traditional art supplies.
“It helps you be more creative to find and use your own materials.”
Contact Christopher Laddish at firstname.lastname@example.org.