Author Archives: pahlkadot

A Maker Experiment: Maker Faire + Rain = ?

yes, it might rainWell, the forecast for Sunday calls for “chance of showers,” but in the true Maker spirit, we are undaunted by this challenge!  Yes, it’s true, we were counting on utilizing the four-acre Park Day School campus, and yes, it’s true that several of the activities planned for outdoors will need to move indoors, but what’s a Maker experience without enormous design constraints that change at the last minute?  Of course, if any makers are currently working on weather control devices, now might be a good time for a beta test. ;-)

What’s changing if it rains?
We have rented some fantastic space in the very Maker-ish Studio One arts center next door to Park Day School where several of the Makers and Crafters who need to be indoors will now be found.  Many outdoor Makers are coming up with small tents to cover their wares.  Overall, we’re going on the theory that Makers are tough, curious, motivated folks who won’t be put off by a little water falling from the sky.  In fact, it will be great for the greywater demonstration. ;-)

What should I bring?

  • Umbrella, rain jackets and wet weather clothes, fortitude
  • Small household appliances to fix at the Fix-it Clinic
  • Clothes and other fabric to donate to the Costume-o-Rama-Rama: any size men’s womens and kids…in decent condition. Anything leftover will be donated to local charities.
  • Cash for lunch, for fantastic crafts to buy, and for maker kits and other goodies (there is no ATM nearby)
  • Your bike. Please consider biking to the Mini Maker Faire if you can. There is valet bike parking courtesy of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

What’s the parking situation?
We do now have 2 lots near the school that will be available to ease the parking crunch.  Please refer to the Get to the Faire page for more information.

Wow, the workshops now sound all that much more appealing!
Yes, we will publish the workshop schedule here on the blog later today.  But do keep in mind that all the workshops are limited in space and are first come, first served, so if you’re really keen on one in particular, make sure you get there early to reserve yourself a space.

Hey, if  it rains, couldn’t something go wrong?
Yes! We’ve been working hard on a rain plan, and we think it’s a good plan, but it’s likely we’ll experience some glitches as we make adjustments for these circumstances.  We hope you’ll bear with us and enjoy the adventure!

Photo Credit: Atomic Jeep on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution License

Double Goodie Day

Oops, the prize lady fell down on the job yesterday, so today’s ticket buyers will be in the running for not one but TWO great prizes!  That two great reasons to buy your tickets today, and it leaves one more left for Friday.  Sorry, there is no prize for waiting until Saturday.  And the prize for waiting until Sunday is higher prices.  ;-)  Remember, tickets are $5 more each on Sunday, whether you buy them at the door or online.

First, though, congratulations to Michael Katz of San Leandro.  He won the subscription to Make magazine on Tuesday when he bought 1 adult and 2 kid tickets.  Go Mike!

Today, Thursday, we’ll choose 2 names from among the ticket sales before 9 pm tonight.  The first name will get the choice of one of the two gifts (but please respond within 24 hours).  The second name will get the other gift.  And they are….drumroll…

Geek Dad coverA copy of Geek Dad, signed by the author Ken Demead, who will be on hand Sunday with his radio controlled Lego demolition cars.  Geek Dad is a compendium of awesome projects to do with your kids, and the perfect thing to have in hand when walk away from the Mini Maker Faire inspired.


fresh on mondaysOR…a whimsical and functional Android phone cover from Fresh on Mondays’ Rebecca Grigsby, who will be showing her wares at the Faire. These handy designs include a pocket on the back to stash cash or a credit card, so it’s all you need to leave the house.  Check out her Etsy store for the full line up.  Be nice to her, and she’ll let you choose your favorite!

Tuesday’s Prize: MAKE Magazine

Congratulations to Kim Rankin for winning the beautiful earrings from Mani Designs in yesterdays’s drawing!

Today one lucky ticket buyer will get a year’s subscription to the magazine that started it all: Make.  If you don’t know Make, you’re in for a treat.  More like a quarterly book than a magazine, Make is the gold standard for the DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIWO (do-it-with-others) crowd.  Inspiring, whimsical, creative, and challenging projects crowd every issue. If it’s bold red and blue logo look familiar, that’s because the publishers of Make are also the producers of the Maker Faire, who have graciously allowed us to extend their “open source” brand to this event.  After Sunday, you’ll be really glad you’re a subscriber.

Buy a ticket by 7 pm today to be entered into the drawing for a one year subscription to Make.

Remember, don’t wait until Sunday to buy, or you’ll pay $5 more per ticket!

Monday’s Prize: Mani Designs Earrings

Congratulations to Laura Zuckerman of Oakland, whose purchase of 4 tickets yesterday won her the signed copy of Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon!

Mani DesignsNext up in our week of giveaways is a beautiful pair of earrings from Crafter Amber Mahler of Mani Designs.  Amber comes at her gorgeous organic shapes by a unique method, which she describes on her site:

The seedpods, flowers, buds and twigs in my botanical series are collected from my walks in the woods near my home. They are lost wax cast silver and gold originals of the actual flowers and branches that I gathered.  This commitment to “live casting” insures that I must continually forage for or grow in my garden new material to be cast.

Mani Designs EarringsAmber’s recent and past season jewelry will be on sale at the Mini Maker Faire next Sunday, but you can win these gorgeous boxwood earrings today by buying your tickets before 7 pm tonight.

Kicking off a Week of Goodies with a Gift from Michael Chabon

Book signed by authorTo wrap up our last week before the Maker Faire, we’ve lined up a series of great stuff to give away.  Each ticket you buy next week will automatically enter you into a drawing for the prize of the day.  We’ll start tomorrow (Sunday) with a copy of Manhood for Amateursn, signed by the author Michael Chabon, PDS parent and co-leader of the comics workshop at the Faire along with Nick Dragotta of Howtoons.

Buy your tickets between midnight Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday to qualify to be entered in this drawing.  We’ll announce Sunday’s winner at the end of the day, when we announce Monday’s prize.

Enter early, enter often!  ;-)

Urban Homesteading at EBMMF

As a mom with a full-time start-up job, my desire to live off the land is largely aspirational.  I do keep six lovely chickens, who are remarkably easy to care for, and have a small garden which I tend to neglect (the chickens enjoy it, though!)  But there’s so much more I could do, and it’s good to have goals.  Good thing the East Bay Mini Maker Faire will be there to inspire me, and everyone else, to become real urban homesteaders.  Let’s take a look at some of these Makers.

bike don't drive, please!First off, let’s talk about getting to the Mini Maker Faire. Farmers may drive big ole trucks, but urban homesteaders bike. Which is a good thing, because there’s not remotely enough car parking near the school to accommodate the crowds we’re expecting.  Fortunately, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be there to take care of your bike during your visit.  They have graciously offered to provide secure bike parking, and since they’ve done this before and know what they’re doing, it will be organized and efficient.  Repeat after me: I WILL BIKE to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

beekeepingOnce your ride is in good hands, head on over to the Alameda County Beekeepers, to learn about the huge impact these tiny buzzing creatures have on our lives, and how they can be a part of your life.  This is no nostalgic revival trend; this beekeeping group was founded in 1916 and has been operating since. Bees’ recent troubles — of the mysterious disappearance variety– have made beekeeping more popular lately, not just for honey fans but for gardeners and all plant-lovers who think that thing called pollination might be kind of important.  Let the ACB show you what it takes to keep a swarm, and even what to do if you have an unwelcome hive in your yard (they’ll happily take them off your hands.)

I chose my chickens for their egg colorNext up is my favorite.  Mario Klip from Holland Hen Houses is going to bring a few coops, and hopefully a few hens, and all of you Bay Area foodies who’ve been thinking about the joys of fresh-from-the-nesting-box eggs can ask Mario everything you need to know about raising chickens.  I can personally attest to fact that it’s cheaper to just buy your eggs at the supermarket, but that the moment you reach under your girl and feel that warm, hard, ovoid object, you will be so delighted you won’t care.  Not only are the eggs great, but hens are hysterical pets. Mine insist on coming in the house and acting like they own the place. But don’t take chicken keeping lightly; do it by the book or you’re almost certain to face heartbreak.  Come by and ask Mario how to do it right.

Next is a chance to learn from the youngest makers.  The Kindergarten class at Park Day School will demonstrate how to make butter from cream but simply shaking the cream in a jam jar. They will have baguette slices for actually tasting the butter and jam jars for you to take some home with you. What could be sweeter, and more fun with your little one?

Tim O'Reilly and Dale DoughertySpeaking of jam jars, sweet, and fun, do we have the best jam-making teacher ever!  Tim O’Reilly is famous as a computer book publisher, the CEO of the company that produces Maker Faire and MAKE magazine, and generally a convener of the geeks we like to watch, but he’s also famous for his jam and scones, which have been written up not only in Cooking for Geeks (which hit the New York Times bestseller list) but also in a Wired magazine profile.  Tim is going to show us his secret to great jam in a demonstration workshop at noon on Sunday in the Magnolia building.  He is bested only by his colleague Dale Dougherty, the father of the Make movement and head of the Make division at O’Reilly, who will be on hand to show us how to press your own apple cider.  Dale’s cider demonstration is at 1 pm in the Magnolia building.  Plan to come early for both of these; we have very limited seating.

So now your home makes its own honey, eggs, butter, jam and cider.  Shouldn’t it capture its own water, too?  Two fantastic Makers will be on hand to help with this one.  The lovely folks at WaterWorks held a festival of water-wise strategies, and are bringing a few of the best exhibits, including a system for growing veggies on a small footprint, an all season rain-catcher/clothes-dryer/garden sculpture, and play-pump that lets kids bounce on a horse’s back and watch the pump work. To complement their work, Greywater Action will be on hand with a life sized greywater system, mini-water harvesting system, and a model composting toilet. Learn how these simple practices can transform your home water systems from wasting and polluting water, to conserving and protecting it. You’re really urban homesteading now!

Calling All Schools!

Erika Horvath

Erika and her mini-makers

As a teacher, crafter and blogger, Erika Horvath knows the importance of helping children see themselves as creators as well as consumers, and to inspire them to shape the world around them. She believes making and exploring how others make things is as important as school to kids’ educations, so she volunteered to help us get the word out to local schools. If you’re a local parent or a teacher, get in touch with Erika about spreading the word to your school community.

The East Bay Mini Maker can benefit your school, too. Schools who promote the event can register for either a 15% discount for their community, or to get 15% of the value of tickets sold back to their school to benefit their own programs.  All you have to do is contact us, tell us whether you want the discount or the affiliate program (bonus cash for your school) and we’ll send you a code that your community can use to register.

Geek Dad in the House

Geek Dad coverWhat do you get when you combine pool noodles, duct tape, radio controlled cars, legos and a little bit of competitive spirit? You get one of the wacky projects for parents and kids cooked up by Wired writer and editor Ken Denmead, who is recently the author of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects for Dads and Kids. Here’s a taste of some of the other projects in his book:
  • Fly a night-time kite ablaze with lights or launch a video camera with balloons
  • Construct the “Best Slip n’ Slide Ever,” a guaranteed thrill ride
  • Build a working lamp with LEGO bricks and CDs
  • Create a customized comic strip or your own board game
  • Make geeky crafts like cyborg jack-o’-lanterns or Ethernet cuff links
Ken will be at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, and you’ll be able ask him about any of these projects. If you’re nice, he’ll also let you drive one of the cars in his remote controlled demolition derby, made out of — you guessed it — pool noodles, duct tape, radio controlled cars, and legos. He’s bringing it to the EBMMF, for kids and their own dads — and moms! — to play with.

Our first Maker: HowToons plus Michael Chabon, making comics!

For comics fans and budding artists and writers, it doesn’t get better than this.  It’s tons of fun to read and collect comic books, but the real joy is in making your own, and what better way to learn how than from the masters.  Nick Dragotta is a Marvel Comics artist working on such titles as Web of Spider-Man and Captain America: Forever Allies; Nick is also the pen behind HowToons, which uses comics to teach kids how to build things, combining instructions with storytelling.  Michael Chabon is the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (among many other amazing books), and the father of three Park Day Schoolers plus one lovely high schooler.  Nick and Michael are teaming up on a workshop at the Mini Maker Faire, to make mini comic makers out of all our children.
Nick Dragotta's Spider Man

Some of Nick's Work

This is just the first of many reasons you should put the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on your calendar for October 24th.  You and your kids will get to see Michael develop a story and Nick illustrate it in real time, and then your kids will get to do the same with help from both these inspiring creators.  You’ll develop a character and learn how to tell that story using the tools of the graphic medium.  Since it’s the week before Halloween, perhaps you can take your creative work over to our Halloween costume booth afterwards, and become your character!

Calling All Makers!

“…It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things, some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.”
–President Obama in his inauguration speech
Perhaps we are getting a little grand for a school-sponsored community event, but when Obama uttered these words last January, I immediately thought of the Maker Faire and all the creative, experimental, inspiring folks who participate.  Since our goal is to celebrate that spirit and nurture that culture within our community, I felt these were fitting words with which to announce our very own Call for Makers, which opens today.

What is a Call for Makers?  Basically it’s an invitation to come show your stuff at the event.  We ask you to fill out a form telling us about what you’d like to show at the Faire, so we know who you are and we can keep track all of you, and we choose as many as we can fit to exhibit on October 24th.

But who is a Maker and what kinds of exhibits are appropriate?  Pretty much whatever you make or do that you’re passionate about, as long as it’s something you can easily share with others.  Maybe you and your child have made a box car, and would like to show it off.  Maybe you make hats and mittens out of old sweaters you’ve felted.  Maybe you’re an artist and the traditional gallery venue doesn’t really fit the scale or the mood of your work.  Maybe you teach Indian dance and you could teach it to a crowd!  Or maybe you have a half-finished project in the garage that is just itching for a deadline…  This is your great excuse to get out the tools or the knitting needles or whatever it is you’ve been neglecting!

Your Mini Maker Faire submission can be a display of something you’ve done, an activity you offer to do with kids and adults.  But we are also looking for performers, teachers, food vendors and arts, crafts and other wares vendors, as long as they fit the theme.  If your booth will sell something (handmade goods, DIY kits, etc) we charge at $100 tax deductible donation to Park Day School.  If you’re just sharing what you’ve made with the world, there’s no cost to exhibit.  If you’re selling handmade goods, feel free to use the shorter form, the Call for Crafters, which is linked here.  We ask for a bit less detail here.

The call for Makers will be open until August 31, but don’t wait to submit your exhibit.   And don’t wait to tell your friends who have cool crazy projects about the first annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire!