Author Archives: sannmer

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!)

CrateStacking is BAAAACKKK!

tripticWe know you’ve been holding your breath!  It’s true – the milkcrates, the giant crane, climber Liam McNamara and his high-stack friends will be returning to bring you the rare joy of cratestacking!

We debuted this awesome sport last year, and then what happened:  Make: magazine did this interview with Liam and the sport (thanks for the re-post, Make:!)

Photo: John Orbon/Park Day School

Photo: John Orbon/Park Day School

Liam McNamara is one of the foremost proponents and organizers of cratestacking, the crazy DIY sport that is exactly what it sounds like. He has organized events in warehouses and at the East Bay Maker Faire, rigging up ropes and climbing equipment so that competitors, who balance on towers of milk crates dozens of feet high before the whole thing crashes down like a giant game of Jenga. Make: caught up with McNamara to ask about how to participate and the clarity that comes atop a tower.

Make: This looks fun, and a little scary. What’s it like when you’re up there?
McNamara: It’s a really fun feeling, ‘cause it’s a simple activity, but you kind of reach this heightened state of focus where you can’t hear your friends yelling at you, and you can’t think about the ground, and you’re just not thinking about anything else. You’re so focused on the subtle movement of the tower, and trying to keep it from swaying, and trying to stay relaxed, despite the fact you know this whole tower could topple at any moment.

It’s really an exhilarating sensation when you’re up there. I’ve had some of the bravest rock climbers that I know, that have climbed giant walls in Yosemite, build a tower and tell me that’s the scariest thing they’ve climbed in years, just ‘cause it’s so unnerving. It’s not really a matter of if you’re going to fall, it’s a matter of when. Everybody falls, and it always comes so unexpectedly, just a little shift in the wind, or the tower bows in a funny way, and then all of the sudden it just explodes, crates are going everywhere, and you find yourself suddenly dangling from the end of a rope 20 feet in the air. It’s really thrilling.

Is there any set of rules, either formal or informal, about how you do it?
There aren’t really that many ways to do it. The one rule that we made — that I thought made it a lot more fun — was that in order for your stack to count, you need to stand on the top of it. It’s kind of a house rule, when we were stacking over at my warehouse. It kind of created this situation where you have to commit to your stack. Rarely have I seen anyone stand on a stack, and then be able to move down to a position where you can stack another crate, so at some point you just kind of decide, this is enough, I’m going to go for a stand.

It’s really a victorious moment to kind of let go with your hands and step up on top of your tower, and stand up. We get a lot of great pictures from stands. We had one guy do a handstand which was really amazing. Having that moment of victory, where you’re on top of your tower — and usually the tower topples shortly after that — it’s always an exciting moment. It’s hard to do, it adds a little bit extra challenge.


You mentioned that people have been doing this in Europe. Do you notice it spreading anywhere else? Are people following your lead?
I created in hopes to find other people that were doing this, ‘cause it seems like a fun thing and I really wanted to find a community of people that were doing it. I really hoped that people would start competing on a global level for tallest stack, and they could send in a video or some pictures of them standing on a really tall stack. When my friends and I first did it, I think our top stack was 14 crates and we thought that was amazing. And then the next time we did it, several people stacked crate stacks in the 20s, and we were like, Wow, this is even taller than we thought we could do it. And now the tallest stacks are approaching 30. We had one stack of 29.

I’d really love to work up a bit of a following, so we could have people practice, and do a couple of practice stacks and get better at it. I think it is something that could have a lot more potential with a bit of practice and training. It’s really inspiring to see what people do on their first try, but we’ll never know what the limits are without a little bit of training and practice.

What goes into doing it?
It takes a ton of work. I come from a rock climbing background, so we use the same sort of standard safety equipment that you’d use as if you were climbing rocks. We set up a top rope, basically. I’ve done it in warehouses, off of rafters, and we’ve done it off of cranes, which work really well ‘cause you can put them anywhere.

The falling crates are the most dangerous thing, as long as you have a good belayer. But being the belayer is kind of a scary place to be, ‘cause you need to stand kind of under the tower. And there’s one other guy under there who’s the crate wrangler, who’s handing up milk crates to the climber. Both of those people can get hit with falling crates as the tower topples, so we’ve made that a hard-hat area, and keep all spectators clear. If you’re stacking 20 or 30 foot towers, then you need to keep all the spectators clear within a 20 or 30 foot radius.


Are there any techniques or strategy?
As you’re building a tower, the tricky part is you’ve got to kind of tuck your toes in to the handles of the milk crate. It’s especially hard for bigger people. Kids have small feet and they can usually fit their shoes in there. We’ve been wearing climbing shoes, which help, ‘cause they have very small toes and you can actually fit them in the small handles. Also, all crates are not created equal: Some have bigger handles than others; some are more rigid than others. We’ve been real connoisseurs of milk crates now, and I’ve been starting to collect the heavier duty ones, the ones that are more rigid and have bigger handles, to allow big feet into them.

Other than that, the way you can brace yourself on the top of the tower varies. Taller people will stand two crates down from the top, shorter people will stand in the top crate. Then you have to brace yourself by reaching around with one of your arms and holding the top of the tower together, then freeing your other hand to grab the next crate that you’re going to stack. That’s really the trickiest part, ‘cause you’re kind of holding on with one hand, and the whole tower is rocking back and forth. You can really see it from the top, as you sight the line straight down the tower. It’s kind of unnerving how much the tower will flex. If you watch which way it’s going, you can kind of correct for it, and just balance it and hold it together. Grab your next crate, clear the top, carefully place it, and then I usually push down on the whole tower to make sure it’s all seated and together while I very carefully move my feet up to the next crate. And repeat.

Come try CrateStacking yourself at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, October 19th!

Calling all Educators! Meet-Up at the Faire

Educator Meetup.FINALblk Are you interested in incorporating making into your classroom or educational program? Want to meet like-minded teachers exploring making and design? Whether you’re a maker curious teacher or a tinkering classroom champion, you are invited to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire Educator Meet-Up on Sunday, October 19th.

EBMMF Educator Meet-Up participants will have the opportunity to connect with colleagues, tinker with curriculum, and learn from other makers. The meet-up will also provide an opportunity to become part of a larger, ongoing network of like-minded educators.

The EBMMF Educator Meet-Up will consist of three sessions designed to compliment the offerings of the Faire itself. The 9:45a and 4:00p sessions will be 45 minutes each, and the noon-1p session will include lunch. All sessions are built around supporting making in your setting and building our maker educator community. Participants are encouraged to attend all three sessions, but welcome to attend just one or two. Between sessions, you’ll have hours to get inspired by the plethora of EBMMF makers, since Faire admission is included in your meet-up registration.

Register here for the EBMMF Education Meet-Up. Enter the promotional code “EDHACK” at the bottom, then select the discounted Adult Advance Purchase ticket. It’s just $5! (Please: only actual Educators planning on attending the event for this ticket. Complete this transaction and go back to the ticket link to purchase additional tickets for family and friends.)

Thanks to the group of local, visionary teachers who have organized this 3-session Educator Meet-Up to enhance the EBMMF experience for educators, as well as meet-up supporters Park Day School and Agency by Design.

There’s a booming awareness of the importance of making in education, and the East Bay Area is a hotbed of activity. Don’t miss this chance to connect, tinker, learn, and make. Register today!

P.S. Want to share with other teachers?  Download the flyer and our event poster for sharing.

Meet the 2014 Makers!

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Our Maker page is up!

2013 Video Highlights by Make: Magazine’s Mike Senese

Thanks to Make: magazine‘s Executive Editor Mike Senese for this sweet video take on our 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

Great to watch *just* as we are almost ready to announce our 2014 Maker lineup. (Stay tuned!)

Call for Makers Extended through September 15

photo (33)