Last weekend I took my son to the Maker Faire.
This is a event sponsored by Mark magazine, and caters to the current “maker movement”. I like to make stuff, and I call my blog “McGlynn on Making” after all, so why not? I haven’t paid a lot of attention to “makers” in the current vernacular, although I had an idea of what to expect. I had the right idea, but my sense of scale was WAY off.
First, the event was absolutely mobbed. It was way oversubscribed. There were huge traffic snarls in the area to get there, and you had to park miles away and take a shuttle bus to get in. The fair grounds were packed, so it was hard to see a lot of the things there, and there was something for everyone. The overcrowding was the main downside for me.
The event is a unexpected mashup of artists, computer nerds, electronics geeks, and hobbyist fabricators. I mis-typed “hobbyist” and my spell checker auto-corrected it to “hobbits” at first, and that wasn’t really wrong either. It’s a strange stew of science and steampunk. Except for the overcrowding I could have gotten lost in the exhibits. There were displays of different projects, makers selling their wares and vendors selling tools, parts and supplies. There were performances that blended science and art, and classes on everything from soldering to lock-picking.
I’ll share a few pictures, but these aren’t really representative of the event — just a few images that caught my fancy. There were dozens of vendors selling fabrication tools geared for the modern maker — and this is a weird disconnect. When I make stuff I use tools that I guide. It’s at least in part a skill thing. I’m not opposed to rapid prototyping or CNC — I’ve done that too and love that sort of work. But I don’t think there was a single vendor selling saws, mallets or any common power or hand tool. Instead there were dozens of vendors selling 3D printers, desktop CNC mills, CNC routers and related computer-controlled tools. All of these were hobbyist-oriented (a few were Hobbit-oriented).
All in all, interesting. If I go next year I’ll be better prepared for the crowds, although I think I should organize a group of guys to demonstrate or teach classes on more traditional making techniques like cutting wood with a saw or shaping metal with a hammer.