Author Archives: sannmer

Giant Public Art Coming Your Way: The Bay Lights


The Bay Lights is coming to the West Span of the Bay Bridge in 2013.

It is an large-scale civic art installation created by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal, with over 25,000 white energy-efficient LEDs installed on the vertical cables of the West Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

From my post earlier this year on makezine.com:

Proposed by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights project will be a grid of 25,000 white LEDs spaced every foot on the suspension cables. “Each node will be individually addressable…each single pixel is controllable but working as a group to create an overall effect,” says Villareal.

Villareal has developed custom software and utilized Max/MSP/Jitter to get to a place of nuanced, three-layer control of the grid — something akin to video mixing. “It’s a long a process of making these discoveries, layering, refining; it becomes kind of like painting.

A graduate of ITP at NYIU, Villareal used to make his own LED boards and sequencers — when he was working with a microcontroller and 16 lights.  Now Villareal leverages commercially available Phillips hardware, but is deep into designing custom enclosures that could secure and protect the Bay Lights grid over its two-year lifespan.

Come meet members of the team behind this idea-gone-real, the makers behind making the largest light sculpture in the world. The LARGEST LIGHT SCULPTURE IN THE WORLD! In our backyard. Next year.

3PM Presentation Stage in the Studio One Theater.

3D Printing at East Bay Mini Maker Faire: Type A Machines, Hyrel 3D + More

I just got back from World Maker Faire New York, where an astonishing 70 different kinds of 3D printers were on display—maybe the largest single gathering of these “additive manufacturing” machines ever assembled!

To call 3D printing “hot” is a bit of an understatement.  Bre Pettis, the founder of the most well-known 3D printer company these days, MakerBot, is on the cover of WIRED magazine this month with the statement, “This Machine Will Change the World.”  !!?!  While I was in New York, a 3D printer company Formlab announced a new printer on Kickstarter, asking for $100K.  It was at $750K within 24 hours, and is now with 17 days remaining, at $1.786 MILLION.  3D printers are RED hot.

What is a 3D printer, you ask? 3D printers make three dimensional objects.  A computer design file generates a pattern, and an extruder that can move back and forth AND up and down AND side to side lays down successive layers of material on a tray (the “bed”).    A lot of printers use plastic rolled up on a big spool – kind of like “thread” – and the extruder melts it and lays it down. Cool innovations in types of material used — concrete, filaments of wood, metal — are making 3D printing more interesting.  It’s a tool only big manufacturers used to be able to afford and that more ambitious makers have in the past few years gotten their hands on; now everyone is saying it’s the next must-have fancy household appliance for everyone.

And YES we’ll have 3D printers for you to check out at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Type A Machines, a San Francisco 3D printer company fresh from Maker Faire New York, will be showing off their Series 1 printer.  Type A co-founder Ronald Miloh Alexander is an electrical engineer and a hackerspace engineer.  Their origin story and mission from their website FAQ is nice:  “Forged in the fires of Noisebridge and TechShop [makerspaces in San Francisco], a team of dedicated hackers set out on an epic journey to bring better desktop 3D printers within everyone’ reach.”

To that end, Miloh will be teaching a session at the Faire on this new, easier, and more affordable world of digital fabrication. His  session is titled “D43D:  Remixing Digital Designs for the Physical World.”  Miloh will provide a background on design fundamentals that are suitable for 3d printers, as well as an introduction to the basic operation of 3d printers. “This
class provides the student with the necessary skills to start designing digital objects for additive manufacturing, and work with a variety of machines.”  You can find this class time on the schedule page.

The other 3D printer company coming to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire is Hyrel 3D.  They are coming all the way from Georgia to show!  And we think Ace Monster Toys will be bringing their MakerBots as well. Designfluence will be running some printers off their solar generator.  NOTE that we’d love to show a Replicator or even a Replicator 2, but MakerBot the company is busy this weekend.  If you have a 3D printer you’d like to run, email us at info@ebmakerfaire.com and we’ll try to get you a last-minute space.

Bigfoot: The Musical

Ladies and gentlemen and kids, please help us welcome the WORLD PREMIERE of Bigfoot: The Musical!

It’s an eco love story about an iconic wildman making his way through the wilderness of civilization and romance.

Bigfoot: The Musical is a new project by Paul Cesewski, the man and the maker behind Paul’s Rides—the amazing pedal powered amusement rides that have graced the East Bay Mini Maker Faire for the last two years.

Catch the show and the hairy plot at 3 PM on the Music Stage!

Note that “Paul the Plumber” is not the only bigwig on the stage; here’s the whole cast of Bay Area luminaries:

  • Bigfoot – Steve Heck / Paul Cesewski
  • Helicopter Girl – Shannan Palermo / Penelope Thomas Rucker
  • Marketing Director – Eliza Strack
  • Dad – Jay Brummel
  • Clouds -  Anwyn Evans / Alex Ramerez / Emily Ramerez / Eliza
    Strack / Charlotte   Jennings
  • Dancing Tree (Flute) – Charlotte Jennings
  • Dancing Tree – Alex Ramerez / Emily Ramerez
  • Hunters – Walter Laing / James Kern / David Kimberly / Deven Osband
  • Helicopter Mom – Penelope Thomas Rucker
  • Sound Director – ( Big Daddy ) Tim Anderson
  • Music – Dan Abbot / Mike Mc Cabot
  • Choreographer – Eliza Strack

Remember… it’s a love story AND a musical.  3 PM on the field at the Music Stage!

Bread from a Pizzaiolo

David Surcamp is the bread baker at the esteemed Oakland restaurant, Pizzaiolo.  And it’s an amazing bread.  His bread as toast in the morning at Pizzaiolo with coffee is a breakfast with a following.

What kind of bread is this exactly?   “I just call it bread, but a lot of people don’t like that.  I guess you could call it country bread, or pain levain.”

David will be teaching making bread on the East Bay Mini Maker Faire Homesteader Stage, our forum for demos and instruction on the domestic and sustainability arts.  The exhibition will cover all the processes from start to finish, including David actually baking in Park Day / CAMP 510′s onsite cob oven.

David has been baking for eight years, and for Pizzaiolo since July 2011.  His path is a classic maker story.  Largely self-taught, David started baking out of necessity and thrift. “I was a jobless student in college and I couldn’t afford to go out to eat. I thought I could make bread cheaper than I could buy it, so I started baking.”

Through his vocal instructor (David is also a singer and was that time studying opera), David got his first kitchen job, and then finally an official bakery job.

I didn’t learn a whole lot there either.  I got more into it because I wanted to make pizza.  Pizza is just bread dough with stuff on it.  So I started reading bread books.  A lot of them.  I would go to library once a week and check out everything they had.  I self-taught myself the fundamentals.

David self-taught making a brick oven too.  He used The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott to source some loose plans. He cruised photos online, put the two together, and built himself an oven in the backyard.  He started baking and selling at a local farmer’s market.

Then in 2010, David moved from Oregon to the Bay Area.  He found himself a few jobs, making it work, learning — but then saw an ad for the Pizzaiolo baking position on Craigslist. You could tell that Charlie wrote it: ‘Come to Pizzaiolo and find me.’  And so I came and found him.”

Pizzaiolo’s oven is a large, wood-burning oven.  Refining the bread and figuring out the dynamics of the oven has been a process.  Is it finished?  “There’s always learning involved.  I think I’d be very stubborn to think that this is all I can do, that this is as good as it gets.”

If you want to try David’s bread and study a master maker in action, come see David’s talk / demo at 1:30 PM on the Homesteader Stage—nestled in Park Day’s “forest”—very near the faire entrance on 42nd Street.

It’s Official! The 2012 East Bay Mini Maker Faire Makers

Just a quick post to direct you over to our 2012 Makers page, which is now up and updated with links to our over 100 makers.  The list is still growing as we herd the maker cats, but this will give you a great idea of the range of makers showing next Sunday.  Schedule of workshops, presentations and music coming next!

Call for Makers Open Now

The 3rd annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire Call for Makers is now open!

Pranksters, makers, artists, closet creators, show-offs, storytellers, fiddlers and tinkerers, scientists and interdisciplinary hackers —this is your time to shine!

Our Call for Makers welcomes applications through September 12.  Show what you make and share what you know….  Check out our Call for Makers page for more details on the kinds of topics and exhibits we’re looking for.   And get making—October 14 is not so very far away!

Thanks to Amanda Clark for the great panoramic pic!

What a Day!

Thanks so much for coming out to East Bay Mini Maker Faire Number Two!

The magic of Maker Faire is in the people:  the spirit and generosity that Makers and event organizers express, and the curious and 0pen nature that attendees bring with them to the event.  Thank you all for making the East Bay Mini Maker Faire a fantastic Maker Faire!

There are obviously way too many appreciations to offer up, but here’s some standouts:

  • Makers.  You are it.  There wouldn’t be anything to talk about if you didn’t make.
  • Park Day School staff, parents, teachers and community.  This is an entirely volunteer-run event, and hands-down you all worked unbelievably hard to make it happen and run so smoothly.  Thank you for being so game, for spending all of your time and energy, and for sharing Park’s incredible campus as a venue.
  • MAKE Magazine and O’Reilly Media for having the vision to share (and license) Maker Faire to community organizations.  Read MAKE Magazine.
  • Several Individuals from outside the school community supported the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in a big way.  So many deep props to Tricia McGillis for visual and web design; Scheffer Ely for serving as event operations lead; music stage manager Katy Bell; Karla Macedo for poster design.
  • And thanks again to our sponsors (see right)— especially latecomers Ranahan Production Services, for lending 30 radios and tons more gear, and Aidells Sausages and Semifreddis bakery for feeding our Makers.

It’s dangerous to start calling out names because it truly takes THIS VILLAGE.

But before we disperse until #3:   please upload and share your photos and videos, and tag with #ebmakerfaire.  Here’s mine, for a start.  And spout your experiences here and via Twitter and Facebook.

Looking forward to seeing you in 2012!

Tapigami in the House!

Danny Scheible and his Tapigami crew are the first makers on site, beginning the involved process of  installing Danny’s masking tape cityscape.

Tapigami is a 1500 square foot city, made out of 80,000 individual sculptures. Imagine a  leviathan created from 4000 wire hangers each covered with different fabric from donated and recycled garments, about 200 connect sculptures that can be kicked thrown passed around. an 12 foot high tree created out of books (it’s Danny’s tree of knowledge).

We’re not sure how big this particular version of Tapigami will be, but from the looks of what’s going on in Grandma’s Attic, it looks like it’s going to be rad.

Guest of Tapigami are welcome, invited and encourage to make there own creations and add them to the walls of the exhibition space.  Danny will provide materials and instruction for everyone and share his process and techniques. Scheible acts as a guide to this interaction between self and material, constantly creating and remaking the existing show.   Find Danny and Tapigami in Grandma’s Attic.

Here’s some foreshadowing, pulled from a Juxtapoz magazine story on Danny:

Alginate plus Bonsai, Origami Cranes and More on the Workshop Stage

At 3PM on Sunday on the Workshops stage, artist Jason Hadley will subject himself to the skilled ministrations of his own children, Ruby and Arlo, as they make an Alginate life-cast of his face.  Jason has been making multimedia sculpture using life-casts of friends and family for years; now they get even. Dad won’t be able speak while they smother his face in that gooey, quick drying stuff that dentists use to make spookily accurate molds.

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Other workshops include hacking up your Gameboy so that it makes music (Making Music on Your Handheld Console with Little Piggy Tracker”); “PLARN” (learning to upcycle plastic shopping bags into yarn);  and Bonsai with the past president of the East Bay Bonsai Society, Bill Castellon

All good stuff that can’t be learned fully at a booth in the midst of a crowd.  Check the full lineup.

The Insidious Community of Survival Research Labs

Kevin Binkert is a machinist, artist and inventor in San Francisco.  One of his pieces is the Flame Tornado (right), a gorgeous kinetic sculpture that has “played” at the Venice Biennale, among other venues.

Kevin is adept at managing flame & heat (you should see how dynamic that tornado is, moving from delicate tendril to violent, fat vortex!). Add that to his fluency with machines and you will not be surprised he is teaching “Helpful Hacks for Home Coffee Roasting” on the Homesteader Stage this Sunday at 12:30pm, sharing how to mod Hamilton Beach air poppers for home coffee roasting.

Kevin is also a longtime member/crew/collaborator of the seminal large-scale robotics performance group, Survival Research Laboratories (shorthand = SRL). SRL was founded in 1978 by Mark Pauline and ever since then has attracted an incredible band of talented engineers, carpenters, electricians, software & firmware developers, and artists.  SRL continues to stage shows around the world – about once every year or so,  and Mark continually builds machines to add to the family.

The extended community of SRL continues to manifest in an astonishing range of important Bay Area cultural cornerstones (e.g. The Exploratorium, DorkBot, SFMOMA, Burning Man, the Crucible, ZeroOne, Art and Technology Colloquium, and on and on—someone should make this diagram!).

To evidence, Mr. Binkert is not the only SRL alum at showing/teaching/making at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Check it out, how SRL represents this year:

SRL predates the Internet.  And has been truly underground.  To find out about a show meant you were connected to a physical web of people.  To have seen a show you would either have to have been there, or have had to order a videotape through snail mail from Mark himself (or rented one from an alt video store).  To join the team you had to navigate getting through the shop gate. All physical connections. Of course over the years the crew adopted a simple list serve to stay in touch.  People have married (and divorced), and developed hundreds of projects and businesses. And they continue to come together as SRL—just last week at LAMOCA, for example.

SRL, Mark and all SRL makers don’t stop making. Truly, if you live in the Bay Area, you are likely already in their web—but it’s largely invisible, entertaining & stimulating, so it’s nothing to worry about. “Insidious” is just SRL humor—just glance at the chronology of show titles, or watch: