Making an Impression: Mind Blown

I was so excited by my first Maker Faire (San Mateo 2015) that I didn't take many pictures of myself. But there's always time to be a pirate captain!I didn’t think I would find myself gawking at a 28-foot tall, fire-breathing robot on Sunday afternoon. There I was, however… gawking. Actually Robot Resurrection is a human-piloted articulating sculpture, but I didn’t figure that out until I actually saw a man standing in its chest. I also didn’t think I would be cheering at drone battles, staring at a giant mecha shooting paintballs, soldering circuit boards, creating textile bookmarks, or being mind -blown by musical light displays, glassblowing, 3D printers and mechanical knitting machines. “See?” My co-worker told me with a smile, “You really do have to see it to believe it.” Yup, I kinda did. Maker Faire describes itself as “The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth!” but the truth is that I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been whisked away to the Bay Area Maker Faire at the very last minute. I’d seen some pictures – lots of technology, sculpture, fire, and adorable cupcake cars – but what was a maker? Was this a carnival? Did people just sort of run around with their robots and in costumes? I mean, that was already pretty cool, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. What I found was that makers are just that – people who make and create stuff. They come from all backgrounds from science and art clubs, to technological think tanks and craftsmen’s guilds. Then there is everyone who could possibly be in-between. The list is ginormous. And it’s not just about showing and telling, though there is plenty of that, it’s interactive and experiential. I expected an activity or two, but I didn’t expect so much! Visitors of all ages were sawing, making clothing, launching paper rockets, creating tape sculptures, building 3d printed toys, experimenting with keyboards, robots, and beehives. It really was a huge visual feast and I only had one afternoon to pack as much into my head as I could. “You absolutely need to check out the Wearable Fashion Show,” we were told. “It’s a fashion experience where art, light, and technology collide.” I had to squeeze up close to the catwalk to see the detail of the truly breath-taking pieces. Some were fashion forward, others were a wearable firework show (explosions not included). However, the most moving pieces were the light-infused artificial limbs of two models absolutely strutting down the catwalk. These prosthetics with intricate patterns, flashing lights and ethereal glows were beautiful, practical, and absolutely empowering. I think, in a way, they encompassed Maker Faire for me. I was a little too mesmerized to take many photos, but here's a quick one I loved. Maybe this sounds lofty and romantic, but I was genuinely moved by Maker Faire, and my mind was blown. It still kinda is. Now I’m thrilled to be a part of San Diego Maker Faire in my own small way and hope to share the infectious excitement I experienced. So here, in this little blog series called “Making an Impression,” you’ll find behind-the-curtain peeks from the point of view of someone experiencing Maker Faire and exploring Maker Culture for the first time. Then maybe you and I can see together what we’ll be making at the San Diego Maker Faire in October. facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail