Author Archives: sannmer

Peeking Back / Gearing Up

Local filmmaker George Spies recently pulled together his footage from last year’s East Bay Mini Maker Faire  So nice to remember the crazy, wonderful, myriad of things going on simultaneously during year no. 1—all in absolute and  gleeful defiance of the rain.

There’s a bit of writer Michael Chabon and Howtoons illustrator Nick Dragotta teaching their “How to Make a Super Hero” workshop (so wished I had made that!). There’s proof about 2/3rd of the way through that thinker+tech publisher  Tim O’Reilly indeed taught jam making. Nice to see Cyclecide‘s Laird Rickard having fun on his own Dizzy Toy.

Music from EBMMF’s 2010 lineup carries the mood:  the music of El Cerrito from Daniel Popsicle orchestra, lady-toy-hackers Toychestra, and one-man band Hungry Hungry Ghost.  Vintage bicycle maker Slimm Buick makes tunes in a corner with a SPAM mouth harp, and Tin Can Banjo project generates jig with a homemade fiddle.

Makers, take a peek—Flaming Lotus Girls, Alameda County 4-H Club, Poetry Store, Ice Brain, Ace Monster Toys, Bucepheless, The Crucible, Nightside Studios, Paul’s Rides, Church of Craft—so many of you in there, doing your thing and making people very happy.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire No. 2. is just two months away now. The Call for Makers closes at the end of the month—but please don’t wait to let us know you want to participate.  And watch for news and updates of makers, performers, and workshops.  It’s all coming very soon!

Major Maker Inspiration: Musee des Arts et Metier

All of this coverage of the Detroit Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum has me desperate to share my summer find, the very best museum in Europe:  Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.

Clément Ader's steam-powered bat plane, Avion III.

Founded in 1794 during the French Revolution, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metier was charged with collecting scientific tools and inventions.  217 years later, the permanent collection is jaw-dropping, old, exhaustive, and beautiful. It’s where you’ll find first inventions in everything from energy, flight, transportation, measurement and calculation, to communications and architecture.

Like the Henry Ford, the museum’s prototype machines have that magic of industrial “simple:”  you can almost understand how the machine works by seeing all the parts.   And the inventors were often also the fabricators.  Here are just a few gems in the collection that caught my camera’s eye:

1844 electric motor by Gustave Froment

Volta's "pile" from 1799—the first electric cell

Car with propeller, Leyat, 1921

Gorgeous gears

One of many stellar, styly early bikes

Early mathematical models. Good sculpture.

Needless to say, all prime inspiration for coming home and gearing up for the second annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

We want flying machines, hand-built bicycles, solar ovens, goat-butchering workshops! Help us spread the word to all the quiet geniuses in garages, basements, machine shops, kitchens, gardens, and office corners across the East Bay.

Call for makers, performers, crafters, vendors for our own “museum” of arts and innovation is open through September 1.

P.S. Faire means “to make” in French.

Calling all Makers, Performers, Crafters!

So it’s the lazy days of summer.  But fall is just around the corner—including the second annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, October 16th.

Makers, performers, crafters, workshop leaders, and food vendors wishing to participate in this year’s faire should fill out our simple online form and apply today!   We ask you a few questions about what you’d like to show at the Faire, your production needs, your contact info, etc.  Deadline for applications is September 1. 

Calling all Makers, Performers, Crafters!

What are we looking for?  Pretty much whatever you make or do that you’re passionate about, as long as it’s something you can share with others.  Maker Faire features a huge range of things:  robots and electronics projects, homesteading arts, animal husbandry, kooky inventions, poetry writing, screen printing, music making, crafts and hacks of all kind…  Anything Do-It-Yourself, and especially anything Do-It-Together.

Your Mini Maker Faire submission can be a display of something you’ve done, an activity or workshop you offer, a performance, or for a space to sell your finished work.  Take the leap, set yourself a deadline, and apply today!

And shout it from the highest rooftops!  Send smoke signals, tweets, morse code, carrier pigeons, and paper airplanes…

Wait, Before you go…one more thing

One last thing before school is out for summer:  The Park-only, early bird Call for Makers for East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2011 is now open!

This year the Park Day School official maker booths will not necessarily be tied to any particular grade.  We’re trying a slightly different way, with individual or partnership entries from teachers, students and parents.  Any and all Park Day School community members who have ideas perkolating for fun, interactive maker booths should step forward now and fill out an Early Bird Call for Makers application.

What were the Park booths last year?  Well, there was:

  • butter making
  • circus arts and juggle-ball making
  • Bruiser the Re-user (the DIY recycled truck Pre-K project)
  • the sand golfball “luge”
  • rocket making and launching
  • cobb bench building (rained-out, unfortunately)
  • Atomic Art (jewelery and art of favorite elements)

They were all a great success, interactive, educational, fun, and demonstrated Park’s collective maker spirit.

So apply today Replicate one of these and/or submit new ideas.  Multiple applications by one maker is fine.  Later this summer we’ll pick a number of the best booth applications and have those leaders shepherd the pre-planning through the summer and into the start of school.  Then we will incorporate your day-of staffing needs into the overall call for volunteers that will go out to the school in early fall.  (You can seed those slots with friends and partners in crime, sure!)

The official Call for Makers / Performers / Crafters / Food Vendors will go out later this month.  But we thought why wait for Park’s own booths?  We have a few more days of community togetherness  until we get blown into a zillion disparate directions.  Here’s to the next year of fun and curiosity at Park Day—especially on Sunday, October 16th!

Kicked Off!

Big turnout at East Bay Mini Maker Faire BOOZE, BITES and BIZ party.  Don’t know if it was the oatmeal stout, the fresh chevre, or the fat-washed rye—but we got a lot done.  Welcome to the EBMMF Team!

P.S.  See you in San Mateo!

Toronto’s Mini Maker Faire Video

From our Mini Maker Faire brethren in Toronto!

We’d love to make something this beautiful with interviews etc for East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2011.  We’ve got so much to show off!  Anyone in?  Come to the kickoff meeting for Booze, Bites & Bizness…  this Wednesday, May 18th, at Park Day School!

Makers: Mini Maker Faire Toronto from Ryan Varga on Vimeo.

Booze, Bites and Business!

The East Bay Mini Maker Faire kickoff party and homebrew and homestead cheese tasting is planned for Wednesday, May 18 at 7pm.   We’ve got great DIY beer from Ben Smith and Alameda County Brewers Club, as well as delicious cheeses from North Bay Curds and Whey and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.

You’ll not only eat and drink very well, you’ll earn a chance to win a full family package of tickets to our sponsor and inspiration, Maker Faire Bay Area (May 21 & 22).

We’ll share our plans for the second annual celebration of East Bay do-it-yourself technology/science/art/music/homesteading culture, and introduce the extra talented, inspired and fun folks who are leading the various teams.  Everyone is invited!

Come to the kickoff party to see what team you might enjoy being a part of.  Some of the team members we’re looking for:

  • Maker finders
  • Reporters (write for our Meet the Maker series!)
  • Stage managers
  • Marketing figure-ers and PR talkers
  • Sponsorship getters
  • Operations & load-in leaders
  • Riggers and handypeople
  • Sewing machine maestros
  • Photo editors and librarians
  • Rocket fabricators
  • Craft materials foragers
  • Homesteader scenesters
  • Silk screen enthusiasts
  • Videographers & photographers
  • Visual designers
  • Map makers


>>If you want to lead a booth for your grade, come to the meeting!
>>If you want to understand what the heck a Maker Faire is, come to the meeting!  (But also don’t miss Maker Faire Bay Area.)
>>If you want to help curate performances, come to the meeting!
>>If you have ideas on how the event can work better, come to the meeting!
>>If you want to help other schools participate, come to the meeting!

Opportunity is knocking!  This is a chance to engage with a creative crowd, and actually get something back from your volunteer hours.  Our team is smart, fast, agile, and friendly.  We leverage technology and we do not have long meetings.  We have a great time, and we make an amazingly gratifying event. We hope you’ll come out for a few hours on the evening of May 18th to find out more.

Questions?  Write

See you May 18th, 7 p.m., in the Matilda Brown room at Park Day School.

Just Added: Oakland Soft Rock Choir!

Sunsets and flamingos! The Oakland Soft Rock Choir is going to serenade you at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!

Oakland Soft Rock Choir will melt your heart with the oh so sweet world of soft rock: the music, the attitude, the love, the heartache, the champagne, the sunsets. OSRC revisits classic tunes you remember deep in your soul, drawn from the glorious repertoire of Air Supply, Journey, Chicago, and the like.

“Gross!” you say? OMG NO! Remember it’s a CHOIR, with arrangements and harmonies and yes it really really works. I promise you will not be able to close your heart to the magic.  hee hee

Make It Fly

Hard not to love this video of Marly (4th grade) and Malcolm (2nd grade) testing the East Bay Mini Maker Faire rocket launcher.  So simple but always exciting.

Who is Kimric Smythe?

A) Is he a steampunk magician?
B) Is he the neighborhood accordion repairman genius?
C) Is he a punk rock roboticist?
D) Is he a bovine pyrotechnician?
E) Is he a TV star?
F) Is he the personification of an East Bay Maker?

Why, you guessed it!  Kimric Smythe is G:   ALL OF THE ABOVE! We’ve done our best below to provide some backup to these assertions, but if you want t0 see for yourself what it feels like to be around a Renaissance Maker Man, you’ll have to come visit Kimric Smythe’s prime space at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Now for the evidence:

A) Is he a steampunk magician? Kimric helped build and plumb and fancify the Neverwas Haul, the fantastic and fabulous Victorian house-on-wheels.  This is Kimric’s steampunk era, Kimric stepping out into the world of early-industry fantasy and innocence, a celebration of “an era when technology and exploration fueled the imagination of the Continent, and gentlemen and ladies of leisure set out in pursuit of the strange and wonderous.”

Kimric actually excels in steam power applications, has made steam-driven calliopes to buggies to whistles,  and will be bringing a range of steam powered devices and whirlygigs to the EBMMF.

B) Is he the neighborhood accordion repair genius? Why indeed, Kimric is the fair proprietor of Smythe’s Accordion Center in downtown Oakland.  Kimric and some friends have also designed and built the best accordian amplifier on the market (a dubious distinction in some people’s minds, but certainly a feat of maker prowess).  If you visit the Accordion Center, you’ll find Kimric has an incredible array of gorgeous accordions for sale.  And for sure if you have an accordion that needs love and tender repair, someone has already probably told you to take it to Kimric.

C) Is he a punk rock roboticist? Certainly.  Or something like that.  Kimric has been a team member of the legendary machine performance troupe,  Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), for over 20 years.

SRL was born way back in the late 1970’s by Mark Pauline along with Matt Heckert and Eric Werner. Along the way an astounding array of Bay Area artists have made their way through the SRL clutches, learning tricks and skills, and putting on often outrageous displays of remote control debauchery.  Kimric persists, and always brings solid quirk to SRL shows.  He’s good at dynamic and funny props that taunt the machines, as well as for providing irritation like an excruciatingly loud jet engine on a forklift—or the Kimric Kill Kart with its 6-barrel shockwave cannon.

D) Is he a bovine pyrotechnician?
Most early “Burners” remember Kimric.  He led the pyro design and detonation of the Man at Burningman throughout the 1990s.  But even just this past Burn, Kimric worked with Temple of Flux to design the pyro for their 2010 Burningman temple. (Image courtesy Extramatic.)  Kimric is also fondly remembered for the legend of the Java Cow, a early morning playa apparition offering unadulterated caffeine.

E) Is he a TV star? Why yes, of course. Back in the 2000’s, Kimric led a winning Junkyard Wars team, meeting the challenge of building a machine using a car and a soccer ball to play golf.  (!?)  Kimric’s idea was to build an industrial version of a tennis ball pitching machine, and with his dad by his side, Kimric not only wooed the audience of millions, but his team won the challenge.

F) Is he the personification of a Maker? Yes.  He can’t stop and you can’t stop him.  It’s in his blood and his genes and his clothes.  If you’re still on the fence about his qualifications, come see for yourself at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

>>Kimric’s tophat photo courtesy of Lisa Swehla