needlepoint Makey in red and black

Preparing For Maker Faire Bay Area

We’re just a few days away from Maker Faire Bay Area: can you believe it? I thought I was going to be able to ignore this fact and write a project post as usual, but I’m too excited to focus. At least I’m too excited to focus on anything besides planning my time there. If you’ve ever been to a Maker Faire, you’ll know what I mean. From the opening bell (or cannon), to the close, it’s non-stop activity.

fire-breathing bus at Maker Faire

Planning is important

Maker Faire Bay Area is the largest Maker Faire in the world. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to see everything. That’s why planning is important when preparing for Maker Faire. Check out the schedule (here) to start planning your time.

There will always be some conflicts. This year there’s one between The King of Random, a talk on Environmentalists And Makers, and the Make Your Own Mini Succulent Plant workshop. They all sound fun! Maybe I’ll just have to see which one I’m closest to when they start.

Of course even with careful planning, you sometimes need to adapt. A few years ago I missed a talk I had planned to see because I was in a lock picking workshop. It was really fun, and don’t worry: your valuables are safe. It turns out I’m a terrible locksmith. Despite having good small motor skills, I couldn’t pick anything more than the two-pin lock. In case you’re wondering, that’s like the most basic of skeleton keys.

Snacking is good too

Another important aspect of Maker Faire is food. I mean how are you supposed to walk around all day and focus on all of the incredibly cool stuff with low blood sugar? I know my brain gets fuzzy without food and caffeine, so here are a few food-related tips:

  • Get lunch early, before the lines get long, then get a snack in the afternoon.
  • There are often vendors giving away free snacks near the main Maker Faire merchandise stand.
  • The coffee at the tiny French cafe stand at the back of the big building (looks like it’s Building 2 this year) is pretty good.
  • The food in the big building is a decent value. It’s basic stadium food (burgers and chicken fingers), but it’s not bad.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle. There are taps near Homegrown Village and a few other places.

Meet the makers

Maker Faire is a great place to discover new makers and to meet makers you already follow on social media. Just hang around the DIY Content Creators stage (zone 9) for some great chats and a chance to meet your favorite maker celebrities. Sometimes you might even find an unusual celebrity, like Kubo:

Kubo stop animation figure at Maker Faire

The chat his creators gave about making the movie was fascinating. I had no idea that Kubo had his own wardrobe department, or how massive the sets were.

Another maker to see, if you have the chance, is Bob Clagett (@Iliketomakestuff). I went to a chat he and David Picciuto (@drunkenwood) gave last year that was both informative and inspiring. They’re both really nice people, too.

It’s really too hard to list all of the great makers who will be there, so check out @creatorvox on Twitter for who to follow. A lot of those makers will be presenting this year, and many more will be in attendance.

Some highlights from past years

There is so much great stuff at Maker Faire that it is hard to choose just a few highlights. That lock-picking workshop is definitely on the list. It’s a great, and very humbling, way to see how you would rank in a James Bond film. Of course there is also the rocking horse steeplechase race. In that game, players sit on rocking horses and race on a video screen by rocking as fast as possible. It’s hilarious. Some other things I love from past years include:

  • Shaper Tools. They make a handheld CNC-type router that is just incredible. Instead of using complicated CAD software, it works by image-tracking tape with a non-repeating pattern. Check it out here. It is very high on my ‘as soon as I can justify it’ tools list.
  • Woolbuddies. These adorable toys were created by Jackie Huang as an eco-friendlier alternative to stuffed toys. I love seeing them every year at Maker Faire, and the family is always really great about answering questions. I’ve made a few already and am going to attempt the elephants next. Here’s the link to their site. Check out the Creatorvox post on Felted Dryer Balls for a great way to practice, too!
  • Homemade cheese! While some cheeses take a bit of effort to make (brie, for example), goat cheese is incredibly simple. FARMcurious does fun demonstrations throughout the weekend for several different homemade products.
materials to make goat cheese at home

I was inspired by them to try cheese making at home and got a kit. It’s fun to add your own flavors, and I have been making goat cheese ever since.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this year:

I have been dabbling with fermented veggies since buying a kit two years ago, and this year I’m determined to figure it out. There are sauerkraut-making workshops throughout the weekend to help. Now all I need to do is keep from getting distracted so I can go to one.

I’m also looking forward to catching up with The Bottery (3-D printed pottery). They got their funding and have started production, so hopefully they’ll be around with an update. Here’s some of what they live-printed last year:

3-D printed vases from The Bottery

Some of the taller ones are over 12″ high!

Something new this year is a huge set of chats about sustainability. Most of them are happening at Make: Frontiers (zone 2). It is going to be seriously difficult to balance listening to them and seeing the rest of Maker Faire. Starting with a chat titled ‘Harnessing the Power of Sun and Wind the Navajo Way’, there is a riveting two hours of presentations. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

Another thing that is great about being in the same place with so many makers is meeting friends from social media. This year I’m looking forward to seeing some tweeps from a Twitter chat called #makershour. It’s hosted by @guildofmakers on Wednesdays and is open to all interested makers. Check it out if you have some free time at 8pm GMT.

In case you can’t be there

To see what I actually end up seeing and doing, be sure to follow Creatorvox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will be tweeting and posting to Instagram throughout the weekend.

If you are at Maker Faire, tag me and we’ll catch up. If you can’t make it this year, I wish you a fun and creative weekend. Don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox to get new posts right in your email. Thanks for reading, and happy making!

Have any questions or comments?