Maker Faire pre-picks: The condensed version

wasp cage with necklace by holly bobisuthi

What I love about Maker Faire is that it has gone from an outcropping of a seeming O’Reilly side project into a full-blown arts festival, in the most serious and international sense. On the surface it has the feeling of a homegrown arts and crafts fair slash outsider arts gathering: in truth it’s the closest thing we have to something that reflects current, modern American artists (and contributors from other countries) in their most essential, non-hippie or homogenized state. Really: it’s the nearest we have to an authentic , slightly guerrilla international arts gathering. Simply for the sake for sharing and growing with other artists, not for some BS highbrow grant-gathering art machine, or for impotent bourgeois conceptual salvos onto an empty landscape of Kooons’ and Barney’s. And I’m not just saying this because my friends organize it and produce it: I’ve been there every year, I’ve worked international arts festivals and orgs since 1996, and I know what I’m talking about. It’s a place to *be*. If you’re around, check it out.

It’s this weekend, and you don’t want to miss it if you’re nearby. I’ll be there tomorrow and prolly sunday working in the Make: Play Day area, where tons of electronics and parts are hauled in, and kids of all ages are encouraged to tear them apart and build cool stuff with the bits: us volunteers are there to answer the “how do I make it…” questions. I’m excited to do it: I’m not a kid person pe se, but: a) I’ve been dating a single dad for almost 2 years and let’s just say I’m buying the niblet *tools*, and b), when I was on the Women of SRL panel for Scott‘s Tentacle Sessions in July 2002, I answered one question from a very deep place. Someone in the audience asked why we thought that there aren’t more women and girls interested in robotics, engineering and technology. I answered, because they don’t see other girls there. In conversations with a longtime SRL alum* over the past few weeks, I put forth that I wanted to be *that girl* whenever possible. So come by, and say hi.

Onward… to my Maker Faire pre-picks — I’ll likely have more after tomorrow. Watch me livestream my experiences here or watch my Twitter feed for insta-updates when I start filming. I plan to livecast every cool thing I see! Scott is also taking pics and uploading like mad to this set. Dig:

* The RoboGames pavilion, including all kinds of kewl workshops, combat robots, lots of chances to make robots do stuff yourself, and 10 years of Roboexotica. that’s right: Monochom will be in the house, up to no good!

* Chumby guy will be there! Complain about bus schedules to him.

* Flaming Lotus Girls. ‘Nuff said.

* My pals @ Cyclecide: do not miss. actually, they will be difficult to miss.

* Much like Extra Action. Show is saturday at 1pm. Transgression level: high.

* More friends: Tesla coils. Yay Greg!

* As always and endlessly entertaining, the Power Tool Drag Races.

* Instructables! The love is mutual (I judged a laser cutter contest for them recently, and can’t wait to see them tomorrow)! In expo yellow.

* Another friend: Justin Grey, who made the amazing robot Darwin that ironically would not die during the SRL San Jose show. He’ll have robots and electric motorcycles, like the one he brought for fun last year and I watched him ride around the parking lot at silent breakneck speeds after the Faire.

* More shameless friend plugging! I enjoy (and spend way too much money) in the Bizarre Bazaar in the craft zone each year, where people from all over the US show and sell their incredible, outsider art. The amazing local metals artist Holly Bobisuthi is at Miriam Dema’s table with her fantastic metal jewelry. To see why i love her work so much, check out this stunning necklace she made for a wasp, complete with human-hair tethered carrier for its gnat friend, the microscopic brooch she made for the wasp, and the gorgeous Victorian cages she makes for wasps. Wow.

* Seriously cool: giant mechanical squid and the glowing bacteria project.

I asked family and friend Phillip Torrone the following questions about tomorrow:

Me: what’s really fucking cool that you’ve seen so far this year!?!
PT: check out the video on MAKE now with the creepy baby-leg-arm that moves when you tickle it, it’s awesome and creepy.

Me: where are the sekrit satanic sex rituals being held this year?!?
PT: where they always are, in Dale‘s suite.

… see you tomorrow :)

– – –

* Last year I was working with Survival Research Laboratories at the Faire, which I won’t be doing anymore, as the vicious political infighting and high audience and volunteer casualty rate is both overwhelming and frightening. It’s a good thing: recently another old time former alum emailed me saying, “It’s forcing all of us to find other avenues to express ourselves. Kinda a coming-of-age. Working at Mark’s is great, and I learned a lot. But at some point, it’s limiting. You’ll always be doing Mark’s thing.” Still, it’s hard not to remember loading into the Faire with my best friend and ex-husband, whom I miss and mourn for, whom I have not been allowed to see since his critical injury (bizarrely) on my birthday last year. An email went out recently to the SRL list about an upcoming benefit for him and his visitation opportunities: a similar email was sent to me separately, from the same person, with all the information about visitation redacted. Sickening. So, in other words, I could work for his benefit if I wanted, but still can’t be permitted to see him. I wonder if he wonders why everyone is coming to see him except me. I wonder what they tell him, if anything. I do not understand it, and the whole situation is utterly repulsive and deeply saddening, especially as my friends (former SRL and non-SRL) actively watch me go through it ( I still get mail for him; two this week).

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  • it was SO much fun! Libby, I know that if you lived in the Bay Area we’d have hung out on Saturday and geeked out on all the cool art. and SM: thank you — I’m totally going to check out FIRST.

  • SM

    “why we thought that there aren’t more women and girls interested in robotics, engineering and technology. I answered, because they don’t see other girls there.”

    this is too sad. my little girl is going to be geeked out when i get through with her, just like her brothers. and obviously you haven’t been introduced to FIRST. girls, and their women mentors, are abundant as participants in the FIRST program (usfirst.org). i’ve been a mentor and then official for years and women are all over the place. easy for girls to find teams (mostly all school-based but some community or home school groups too) by going to their web site and looking up your location. when you participate in FIRST inspiration is all around you. let me know if you want more info.

  • this sounds like so much fun, especially from the other side of the country.