Category Archives: Makers

Matt Heckert and Walk and Peck


Way back in the age of video tape, in the time before the Internet, a machine named Walk and Peck roamed the earth.

One of the stars of the seminal Survival Research Laboratories film “Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief” (1988), Walk and Peck (AKA The Centaur) also had a feature role in the 1985 performance, “Extremely Cruel Practices: Designed to Instruct Those Interested in Policies That Correct or Punish.” 

Walk and Peck’s maker, Matt Heckert, will be bringing the old W&P out for a little walkabout at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this Sunday.

In the world of art+robots, Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) is considered to be the pioneer of the “spectacle” form of underground robotic art.” (Wikipedia). Remote control machines, often the size of small cars, interact with props and each other, producing mayhem, surprise, and destruction.

Heckert came to machines and engineering pretty early.  Obsessed with cars and Formula One racing, Heckert got his first car when he was 13 years old.  “It was a little Volvo 544 that I was going to make into a racecar. I was done with the lawnmower and the outboard motor; I wanted to have something to work on.”

Matt’s dad had seen this Volvo out in the country for sale, and tracked down the owner.  It turned out that this guy, Paul Krot, was a photographer and a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (as well as founder of Sprint Systems Photography—still in biz), and had in fact raced the Volvo in some Sports Car Club of America runs.

Krot wouldn’t sell the car.  Instead he said, “I won’t sell it to you but I’ll give it to you if you will race it.”

Krot proceeded to take 13 year old Heckert to the junkyards to look for just the right motor.  “The motor was tired and bell housing was shot. I took my money that I had earned and bought this motor for $220.”

“He showed me how to port the manifold and what cam shaft to get and what grinds to put on the cam shaft.” Heckert was in business.  Re-reading the owner’s manual, Heckert would check in with Krot and follow his advice—but continue the work and progress on his own.

The point all of this is that this guy was that this guy dealt with me as if I had a brain, had the ability, and was an adult.  He never talked down to me. 

 I never forgot about Paul and my Volvo but I never really got a perspective on how important it was for me developmentally until I was reminiscing about it recently. That I had taken the initiative to get the car and then met Paul and his attitude was “you can do this,” without faint praise or hand-holding, and then completing gave me a sense of accomplishment that I carrier forward to future projects.

Heckert made his way from there to an award winning art career with exhibitions around the globe.  He is currently Chief Engineer for TCHO chocolate in San Francisco, having re-engineered their vintage East German chocolate manufacturing equipment into a full-scale production line on Pier 17.

He’s also currently saying goodbye to Walk and Peck, which has just been acquired by a museum. Come and pay a little homage Sunday at the Faire.

P.S. Check this shot below, the original wiring notes from the control box:

Riveropolis: A Watershed Installation for Boat Making and Magic

San Francisco artist Gregory Gavin says that since he was a kid he has “returned to creeks to feed my imagination.  Finally it occurred to me . . . it was the creek itself I wanted to return with from the forest.”

In a presentation at San Francisco’s de Young Museum in 2006, Gavin proposed perhaps the world’s first company specializing in the creation of miniature rivers. Since then, he has been creating rivers all over the Bay Area under the name Riveropolis. This Sunday, you’ll have the chance to experience two amazing undertakings:

First, Gavin will set up a kinetic, quiet large and fast moving play river to build and experiment with boats.

Then, inside the geometry of the Park Day gazebo, Gavin will construct  an idiosyncratic “archipelago” of floating islands “that I discovered this summer while teaching river camp.

Gregory will also participate on the 12PM “Maker Programs in East Bay Schools” panel presentation/discussion session in the Studio One Theater.

Gavin has been commissioned by National Endowment for the Arts, the de Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Seattle Public Art Program, the Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize, and the Bay Area Discovery Museum. He teaches intermittently at the California College of the Arts and is a California Arts Council Fellow. He also teaches summer RIVER CAMP sessions at CAMP 510 at Park Day School, and the San Francisco School. We’re really excited to have him at the Faire!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mr. and Mrs. Maker: Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Did you get that enormous, weighty Restoration Hardware catalog (I mean “magazine”) about a month ago? Heavy as the heaviest September Vogue?  Maybe you noticed in there a giant feature spread on their new lighting designer,  “Oakland Oilpunk,” blacksmith Jon Sarriugarte.

Or maybe you saw The Avengers, Brave, War Horse, The Incredibles, TRON Legacy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Peter Pan, HULK or Lord of the Rings?  Then award-winning Skywalker Sound sound editor/sound designer Kyrsten Mate might ring a bell if you are in the local movie biz or a film credit junkie.

Better yetmaybe you went to Burning Man over the last 5+ years and saw the Serpent Twins, the Golden Mean snail car, or the Electrobite Olenoides?

Kyrsten Mate and Jon Sarriugarte are the dynamic power maker couple behind these extraordinary art cars.  They do these projects with (talented) friends on top of holding demanding day jobs and being parents to their Zolie Mae.

Their combined aesthetic prowess and extreme craftsmanship—along with the strength of their greater team—result in just plain stunning projects.  Come meet Jon and Kyrsten at 2PM in the Studio One Theater, see more of their work, hear some great stories… and get inspired!

Have You Found What You Love To Do? Workshop Weekend Will Inspire You

Gil and J.D. Zamfirescu say they feel lucky to have discovered “a few of our own passions early on in life.”

Which led both brothers to MIT, where Gil earned his degree in economics and J.D. earned degrees in computer science. Gil went on to found FertilGas, an initiative dedicated to sustainable energy technology in Honduras. And J.D. co-founded Appjet, which was acquired by Google in 2009.

“Our experiences growing up inspired us to create Workshop Weekend,” the Zamfirescu brothers say. “We think everyone, young and old, should have the opportunity to discover [their] passion, and that belief has driven us to put together Workshop Weekend: It’s a way to encourage that exploration of passions.”

Workshop Weekend you ask?  Workshop Weekend is a pop-up maker university.  Take (or teach!) 1-3 hour workshops on science, technology, engineering, art, and more.  The next full-scale Workshop Weekends coming up is:
» November 10-11, 2012 at Tech Liminal and other venues in downtown Oakland

HOWEVER…  We’re excited to announce a “mini” Workshop Weekend at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire! Workshops will run through the day Sunday in their room upstairs in Studio One.  Workshops include:
____________________________________________________

Accessorize Your Style: Clay Jewelry Making and Button Making

Patrick Schmidt is the owner of a brand new art gallery in Berkeley. The art of millefiori (pronounced mil-uh-fee-awr-ee) — employed in Patrick’s clay jewelry workshop — was first discovered in Ancient Roman times. The technique was subsequently lost for more than a thousand years until the 19th century, when a couple of crafty folks where able to figure out the process from scratch!

You’ll learn the technique in this workshop, and, as a bonus, you’ll be able to make your very own button.
____________________________________________________

Sewing Up a Storm! Machine Sewing, Hand Sewing, and Using a Serger — Halloween Style! (pictured above)

Michelle Adam — a magnificent fashion maestra specializing in scrapcycling, the art of repurposing old or worn-out fabrics into completely new items — is currently working on her master’s degree in fashion design at the Academy of Art University.

“I like to make a game out of it by trying to see how much I can create from irregular pieces of fabric that others would consider useless,” Michelle says.

Michelle will teach you three essential sewing techniques: hand-sewing, machine sewing, and using a serger. You’ll use your skills to sew together a Halloween-themed item which you can take home with you!

“One of the first fashion pieces Michelle ever made was a dress made entirely of Post-It notes,” Gil says. “It was meant to represent women’s ability to multitask, and one of her professors fell so in love with it that she bought it off of her!”
____________________________________________________

DIY Extraction: Getting Vanilla Flavor Out of Vanilla Beans!

Oakland-based Andrew Milmoe is a maker and educator extraordinaire. He founded the “Make:SF” community of makers and explorers, and has taught or assisted in over 100 workshops over the past few years.

You’ll take home a bottle of your very own vanilla extract to use in homemade cookies, ice cream — whatever you like!

FIND WORKSHOP WEEKEND UPSTAIRS IN STUDIO ONE.  See the SCHEDULE page for complete lineup and times.

Get yer Swap on Folks!

If you’re coming to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, you gotta make stuff while you’re here. What better place than our Hands-On-Everything Zone at Studio One?

Tip from the Top: plan ahead for the Swap experience and bring a shirt to screenprint, and some clothes you either want to donate or something you’ve been dying to jazz up.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama is the brainchild of Wendy Tremayne, an inspired artist/maker/yogini/homesteader. Basically, its a clothing swap, a sewing room, a hackerspace, and a series of DIY/DIT (do it together) projects. Bring along some clothes or all that extra fabric you’ve been meaning to use. Grab something and turn it into something else. Make a Halloween costume, a cape, a costume, a monster or a miniskirt. Make a stuffed animal or a tea cozy or a shopping bag, a book cover or a tutu….use your imagination or avail yourself of ours!

This year, our sewing maven CC Clark is back in action with her rotary cutters, sewing machines, notions, trims, fabrics and projects galore. In addition, workshop artists Cedar Casper (young maker extraordinaire) will teach you to make a jeans purse and Jennifer Williams will get you cutting up old t-shirts to make TARN (t-shirt yarn) you can crochet into all kinds of neat stuff. Iggy from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse will return as well, and make cars out of old floppy disks. Remember those?

Next door to the Swap/Sewing room is the Screenprinting Zone. This is the place to take any t-shirt, hoodie, skirt, totebag or any piece of fabric you can lay your hands on and transform it into something cool. The artists and homies from Oakland’s  Homeygrown collective will bring their original designs and help you create your very own work of art.

Also–thanks to 510 Families for helping promote the Faire and all our crafty efforts!

Maker Profile: TweetHausOAK in the House!

Have you seen a western bluebird flitting about your neighborhood lately? This small thrush nests in pairs and feeds on insects (grasshoppers, termites, beetles, you name it)–a  great asset for the home gardener who occasionally does battle with bugs.  Cue TweethausOAK, a project of the FLUX Foundation that’s working with elementary school students to design, build, and install houses for the western bluebird, encouraging the growth and sustainability of the species in Oakland.

I had the pleasure of participating in the final celebration of the pilot Tweethaus project last spring where 17 3rd grade students from Park Day School, the magical cast of characters from the Flux Foundation, and a few supporting cast members ceremoniously planted the birdhouse posts in the soil.

After learning about the habitat desires of the western bluebird, the kids worked in teams to create and construct their birdhouses and then place them throughout the surrounding community.

Lucky for all of us, the FLUX Foundation folk will be at this year’s East Bay Mini Maker Faire and you too can contribute to the creation of a full-scale TweetHaus construction.  Throughout the day, FLUX will lead workshops where attendees can assemble and reassemble a giant, cardboard playhouse made of light cardboard and magnets.  A giant birdhouse puzzle, if you will, where you can help share concepts for future urban bird habitats.

Oh, and don’t miss the mobile fire sculptures, and FLUXcycles that will also be part of the FLUX Foundation exhibit at the Mini Maker Faire this year.  What, you ask?  Right.  Check it out.

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.

East Bay Brass Band: All Mashed-Up and Brassified

You’re in for a blast when the East Bay Brass Band hits the stage to play mash-ups of modern tunes on Sunday at noon.

Kevin Brunetti formed East Bay Brass Band in 2011 “because I needed more brass in my life,” he says. “I wanted a brass band that could be both modern and traditional.”

“We expand what’s expectable,” says Brunetti. Sunday will be his first Maker Faire. “We’re excited to be a part of it!”

East Bay Brass Band is made up of eight horn players: two trombones, two baritone saxophones, an alto saxophone, a tenor saxophone, a trumpet, and a bass flute – as well as a drummer.

Their repertoire “goes with any New Orleans-style brass band,” but they also play a number of “trombone choir” tunes. “Our brass mash-ups will pleasantly tangle your mind as your feet succumb to the East Bay beat.”

Brunetti met most of the musicians in brass bands in the Bay Area including the Hot Pink Feathers Marching Band, Blue Bone Express, and MJ’s Brass Boppers. Many band member are local parents and/or teachers. They practice in Oakland once a week.

Catch the show at 12 pm on the Music Stage!

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.