Author Archives: sannmer

Burner Build Countdown @NIMBYspace


Burning Man countdown is on!  Teams are working long hours to get sculptures, art cars and camps ready for the trip out to the desert.

Saturday I stopped out at NIMBYspace and got to witness the happy making frenzy.  Music going and teams of folks pooling time and energy, getting sweaty (100 degrees!!) and dirty, getting their fun ready to head out to the desert for the epic annual art fest.

NIMBYspace is one of Oakland’s maker crown jewels, a home to many makers — not just Burning Man projects.  It boasts 70,000 square feet of studio space (most indoor + quite a lot of outdoor build space), plus a shared woodshop and a shared metal shop.  It’s located down by the Oakland Coliseum.

Love NIMBY’s “mission” words on their website:

It is our goal for makers to not just create but to also experiment and explore. This supportive culture is at the root of the amazing art that emerges from the doors of our unique community. No one can do it alone, and by placing a high value on collaboration and diversity an environment emerges for innovation and freedom of expression. NIMBY is a community and volunteer driven space with a commitment to bringing the maker experience to local schools, community groups, and the neighborhoods of Oakland.

The compound is one of the cornerstones of East Bay maker habitat, not to mention our Faire.  Snook and Dave and Dave and Clody and others have been a huge influx of great activities (sheet metal tool boxes anyone?!) and art at East Bay Mini Maker Faire, and it seems like 2015 is going to be a banner year for NIMBY at EBMakerFaire.  Talked to loads of Burners and non-burners about our show and I’m excited for what folks seemed interested in bringing out.

Meanwhile, best of luck to all teams with their projects!  See you on the other side.

You'll Do Detective Agency mobil force in-the-making

You’ll Do Detective Agency mobil force in-the-making

Airpusher's rig will float a giant balloon

Airpusher’s rig will float a giant balloon

Fire effect

Fire effect “poofers” ready for testing for OneManDown’s Fire Helix

Flaming Lotus Girls fire safety meeting

Flaming Lotus Girls fire safety meeting


NIMBY's metalshop

NIMBY’s metalshop

Making sure your transpo makes it is a priority.

Making sure your transpo makes it is a priority.

P.S. Playa-bound:  Our Call for Makers closes right when you get back and you’ll be in hiding/recovery.  Fill it out now, before you head out!  Or email

The Call is LIVE!

16089318446_52daa578a3_zMakers!  Show your work at the East Bay’s own Maker Faire!  As is true with all Maker Faires, booths are free for non-commercial participants.  And also true is that it doesn’t really matter all that much *what* you are making, but more your interest in sharing what you learned while you made it.  Chances are you’ll meet a whole bunch of really interesting people, learn a few things yourself, and have a great time.  Read all about our 6th annual Call for Makers, Presenters and Performers — and apply early for priority placement.

Image by Eric Wagner; art by Orion Fredericks @East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2014

#MadeInOakland: Makers the Belle of the Ball at Libby Schaaf Mayoral Inaugural

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American Steel Studios, Oakland’s six-acre makerspace, was home today to a huge inaugural festival for new Mayor Libby Schaaf.  Schaaf, whose branding centers around a “Made in Oakland” theme, has repeatedly paid tribute to the thriving maker scene in Oakland, and has been getting lots of press with her recent rides in Oakland’s famed Snail Car.

Schaaf has got to be the only Mayor in America to have thrown their inaugural ball in a makerspace.

Former Oakland Mayor and current Governor Jerry Brown cruised American Steel today with Schaaf.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee was on stage and paid tribute to Libby and Oakland.  Artists and makers across the tech and culture spectrum were out in force.  “This is not your Daddy’s inaugural ball!” said Schaaf, before leading the huge crowd in the cupid shuffle.

What does all this mean for makers?  Clearly it’s too early to know,  but Schaaf was (as Councilperson) behind Oakland’s new 1% for the arts law.  An inaugural ball in one of the city’s premier spots for making is an auspicious start.

P.S. Note our 2015 date is up!  Libby, you’re more than invited on Sunday, October 18th—let’s get together to talk how this event can greater benefit Oakland and East Bay makers.

#BestEver #DoItTogether #Gratitude

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Doing it Together is powerful stuff. East Bay Mini Maker Faire is an absolute manifestation of team work and collaborative energy. Together we threw an amazing celebration this past Sunday: a showcase of creativity, invention, and curiosity.

Close to 200 makers generously shared their talent, wit, passion and projects. Over 250 Park Day School parents + unaffiliated helpers took shifts to power everything from hands-on making booths (e.g. Nerdy Derby, rockets, Swap, Learn to Solder) to parking to tickets and registration. 95 exhibits offered hands-on making or  interaction.  Sponsors gave in their own way—enabling budget for the jaw-dropping installations, or donating in-kind with infrastructure and supplies. A core team of 10 or so plugged away months in advance to push this baby to fruition.

Together we brought together 7,000 happy people on the combined Park Day School + Studio One Art Center campuses. Whether working or just experiencing the show, it felt like most people were experiencing something new, and receiving some bit of re-charge and inspiration. Thanks for not just coming, but for contributing, and for making this day with us.

Keep the making going — check out our Resources page for makerspaces and maker meetups — and see you back again in October 2015!

P.S. We’d love to see more pictures! Send links to





What You Were Saying

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Quick peruse through Twitter this a.m. of yesterday’s image tweets—so fun to get a glimpse of everyone’s different experiences!

Beyond 3D Printing: Digital Fabrication at the Faire

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.27.06 AMCNC (Computer numeric controlled) or “digital fabrication” tools—like 3d printers, laser cutters, milling machines—used to be so expensive that only corporations or big research groups could afford them.

Then over the last 10 years, a whole new version of these tools become available to the hobbyist market.  Either through pooling resources at a makerspace, or via one’s own credit card, independent makers had access to very powerful ways of making things for $5000 or $2000 or $750 and less.

This enabled a whole world of people familiar with designing in visual design programs like Illustrator and Photoshop to take the leap via Computer Aided Design software (CAD), into porting their design files to physical objects.  It also empowered a huge number of  people living in code (software developers) to become makers, and develop hardware.

It also meant that people could now share code via the Internet to make THINGS:  hardware parts, gadgets, replacement parts, prosthetics, molds, etc. Thingaverse, for example, is a whole library of files for things—download, maybe tweak, and then print or cut!  So Open Source Software evolved to Open Source Hardware.

Add crowdfunding (e.g. Kickstarter, Indiegogo) to the mix and you’ve got an entrepreneurial revolution.

This critical mass of influences and evolution is some of the special juice behind Maker Movement, and this is what Maker Faire and Make: magazine were first to articulate and celebrate.

This year at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, we have a great selection of companies and makers developing and using CNC or digital fabrication tools. Some will be grouped in our Digital Fabrication Zone on the map, and others are sprinkled about the faire.


Bay Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) is a coalition of Bay Area companies engaged in 3D Printing seeking to make it as easy as possible to go from idea to object. BAAM does this by integrating products, services and solutions into a common, seamless user experience.

Othermill, from Other Machine Co.

The Othermill is a portable, easy-to-use CNC milling machine that is optimized for high-precision manufacturing. You can use the Othermill to make anything from your own circuit boards and Arduino shields to intricate wood carvings and metal engravings. The Othermill is made by Other Machine Co., a San Francisco-based company making design and manufacturing more accessible to all.

SoundFit 3D Scanner
SoundFit, LLC

Scan small objects and create 3D models with our scanner! We can train you how to use your mobile device to reliably capture photos that can be submitted to SoundFit to be turned into 3D models.

Techshop San Francisco

TechShop is a playground for creativity. Part fabrication and prototyping studio, part hackerspace and part learning center, TechShop provides access to over $1 million worth of professional equipment and software. We offer comprehensive instruction and expert staff to ensure you have a safe, meaningful and rewarding experience. Most importantly, at TechShop you can explore the world of making in a collaborative and creative environment.


FLEETedu delivers the technologies of the future on re-purposed public transit vehicles. We provide interactive digital arts and fabrication experiences to ignite the next generation.

Diablo Woodworkers

We have a vibrant woodworking group in Pleasant Hill, CA. It meets monthly with presentations and demonstrations by skilled professional artists and woodworkers in the Bay Area. Examples of student projects are exhibited along with the tools and technology that support the woodwork. Also, we will be demonstrating how SketchUp (the 3 dimensional software application) is used to support student

Local Urban

Unique laser cut wood jewelry that represents our Bay Area. I use a program called Corel Draw to design the art and then I go to the Tech Shop in San Francisco to use their laser cutter to cut!

AgIC – make your circuit instantly
AgIC International Corporation

Have you ever made your own circuit on a paper? Let’s see and make circuits with our conductive markers and circuit printers, such as cards, origami works, speakers, and boards.

Indie Laser Collective

We are a collective for laser artists & makers. Our studio has the tools to run your production or prototyping laser jobs, or to come and work together collaboratively on a shared project. A great place to fabricate your vision into works of art

Maker Shed
Maker Media

The official store of Make: magazine! Think of the coolest 1) technology bookstore, 2) museum gift shop, 3) arts & craft shop, and 4) electronics store you can dream up — now roll them all into one. It’s an irresistible collection of books, kits, robots, microcontrollers, science sets, electronics, tools and supplies, all curated by us, the people behind MAKE and Maker Faire.

The Nautilus Art Car
Five Ton Crane

The Nautilus project is an artistic experiment and collaboration between Christopher Bently, Sean Orlando and the talented artists of Five Ton Crane.
Inspired by the submarine in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our version is full of delight and wonder. Visitors will be welcomed aboard to explore, and see what collaboration can create!

The Nautilus is on here because these makers have leveraged digital fabrication tools extensively for other projects—for example, the Ray Gun Rocket Ship—for the internal structure.  The time gained from digital fab meant they could focus more on the details and finish work that make the end piece so astonishing.

Indeed, this technology is so pervasive that there are likely many more makers in the show that belong on the list. A good exercise would be to roam the show evaluating each exhibit to see where that maker may have leveraged this new toolset.

See you Sunday!

Oakland Sculpture: Orion Fredericks and Alex Nolan


Gilly by Orion Fredericks

If there’s one thing the City of Oakland is known for in the maker community, it’s the capacity to nurture large-scale art.  Makerspaces / studio spaces like American Steel Studios and NIMBY house much of the big art pre-fab for Burning Man, and many artists working in large scale call these spaces home.

This year’s East Bay Mini Maker Faire will represent both those spaces through large sculpture installations by Orion Fredericks (based at American Steel) and then another, by artist Alex Nolan (based at NIMBY).

Make: magazine did a great profile about Orion Fredericks’ Gilly — a spectacular stainless steel creature with a 15′ footprint that will evoke fantasies of space/time travel. It’s a marvel both of engineering and aesthetics. Watch this video to get insight into Gilly’s design and build:

10544339_677474659002448_2219537636334060368_nAlex Nolan’s Ursus Redivivus is a nearly 12 foot tall monument of the extinct California Grizzly Bear—one with a bit of kinetic surprise if you get up close. Ursus was a collaboration with artist Chad Glashoff and the Glasshoff sculpture ranch in Suisun Valley. Believe it or not, the Bear is a commission from the landlord of the Shattuck Ave. Walgreens in downtown Berkeley. He asked Alex to build a sculpture from the scrap of the escalator that was removed during a remodel.

Ursus Redivivus will be installed in front of the downtown Berkeley BART station in a couple of months, and will stay there for a year.

Get up close to these big marvels and meet Orion and Alex this Sunday.




A Chef’s Chef: Kelsie Kerr

photo-1The East Bay—Berkeley in particular—is pretty famous for being the home of ingredient-driven, quality food.  So many great chefs, including many “graduates” of Chez Panisse, are making amazing food all through the East Bay.

Kelsie Kerr is one such chef, though if you ask around, you might be surprised that you are not more familiar with her as a “brand name.” Kerr led the kitchen for many years at Chez Panisse, then co-founded Cafe Rouge on Berkeley’s 4th Street—where she was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 1997.  She is also the co-author (with Alice Waters) of the bibles The Art of Simple Food and The Art of Simple Food II.

Recently she opened Standard Fare Kitchen & Pantry in Berkeley (near West Berkeley Bowl), a one-stop fine take-away dining.

“Kelsie is probably the most admired chef of any chef I know in the East Bay,” says Boot & Shoe restaurant’s baker and Park Day School parent Jenny Raven.  Jenny curated the Homesteader Stage this year, and when we were talking about Kelsie’s session she said: “Do people know how lucky they are that she is coming to the Faire??!

I’m not a chef but I’ve eaten Kelsie’s food many times.  Her food is sublime.  It might be a Standard Fare tuna sandwich—but it is a tuna sandwich so fine that your jaw drops in awe:  micro-sliced lemon on loose, light albacore with split green beans, aioli and arugula, on house-baked foccacia. Kelsie’s standards are high.

photo(2)Another example:  Kelsie collaborated with Berkeley potter Jered Nelson of Jared’s Pottery to design and create gorgeous ceramic terrines for the take-home vessel.  The end result?  Food that is not compromised by transport, is enlivened by re-heating, and is gorgeous to serve.  Another level of take-out entirely.

When I asked Kelsie how she identifies with the maker community, she said she gets pretty darn geeky about what she makes. “Like fresh shell beans: that there are 5 or 6 kinds, all different and exciting, they each taste certain ways, and are only available at certain times from only certain farmers.”  She’s passionate about what she makes, and her materials. Her favorite tool?  A good light, sharp 8” knife.

So clearly we are more than excited to have Kelsie teach minestrone on our Homesteader Stage this Sunday.  Minestrone may *sound* simple, even humdrum.  But that’s Kelsie’s special trick!  Don’t be fooled by it — make sure to be at the Homesteader Stage (just inside the 42nd Street gate) this Sunday at 1 PM!

Also — take a look at the complete lineup of workshops and demos on the Homesteader Stage—and get your tickets in advance to save $ and time at the gate.




5 Reasons I Want My Kids to Be Makers

IMG_6435I always get giddy this time of year in anticipation of the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. It is an explosion of learning, creativity, inquiry, art, play, experimentation and FUN!

My interest is not only as a parent, but as an educator.  I work at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and our mission is to help improve the learning process by sharing “what works” in education. Over the years I have seen a lot of solid and innovative practices that are transforming how our kids learn.  But the one that I am the most excited about is making.  Here are 5 reasons why.

  1. Making creates authentic experiences for learning.  Say my daughter decides she wants to build a go-kart. She has to use algebra and trigonometry to design the kart’s body, and physics to calculate the gear ratio for the drive-train. No algebra/trig or physics, no kart, right? So she not only has to learn, she has to apply the learning. And she’s motivated because she really wants to finish this go-kart.When it’s done, you can bet she is more likely to remember these principles than if she’d done it on a worksheet.  Plus, now she gets to ride around the neighborhood in a bitchin’ ride that she made herself!
  2. Making deepens social and emotional skills.  It teaches kids how to solve problems together — how to collaborate.  I talked to one educator whose 4th-graders did a unit on Transcontinental Railroad – they established an “East vs West” contest, with kids competing for the best train designs.  The teacher was struck how the kids were so much more interested in improving their designs so that the best one would win, rather than getting competitive and infighting against each other.
  3. Making is not just limited to science, tech, engineering or math (STEM).  Projects like the Transcontinental Railroad one above can bring humanities and social studies to life, too.
  4. Making teaches kids how to fail. That is not a typo. Learning how to fail — and pick yourself up, reflect, and make another attempt — is crucial skill for navigating our ever-shifting world. Making builds resilience via the process of prototyping – trying things out, testing, and redesigning which is SOO IMPORTANT so that kids don’t shut themselves down in the face of failure.I was visiting a maker camp over the summer that had this idea of  “marvelous mistakes.” It actually brought a tear to my eye to hear those kids talk so proudly about their mistakes, what they learned from them!
  5. Making is accessible to anyone. If you want to bring making to your kids, it’s pretty easy to get going. You don’t need a fancy lab or fancy tech though those are springing up around the country in the form of TechShops or Fab Labs.  The internet is chock full of resources, too, as well as online maker communities. All you really need is curiosity and the ability to let your child explore and try things out and fail a few times.

One thing we know for sure is that we have no idea of what the future will be like for our kids.  I have seen making change the lives of students in districts and schools and classrooms and after school and in summer camps around the country.  I have seen it turn lives around and build resilience, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving in kid from all social, economic, and geographical backgrounds.

So this is why I am so geeked about the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Hope you can make it!

Guest post by Betty Ray (follow me @EdutopiaBetty on Twitter)


The Schedule is Live!

10429724084_716f9acdc2_o Our 2014 schedule of presentations, workshops, demos & music performances is up!  Drones to comics to Arduino to The Maker City to big brass to kombucha.
Check it OUT>

(And yes!  East Bay Brass Band will be back!)