Category Archives: Makers

Cyclecide: The Pedal Powered Carnies

 The Heavy Pedal Cyclecide Bike Rodeo began in 1996, when members used bikes not just for transportation but for art, music, and performance. Discarded bikes rescued from the dumpster became extra-tall bikes, double-decker bikes, chopper bikes, and pedal-powered machines, including the “Suburban Intruder” Lawn Mower Bike, a Rocket Bike, and the Chupacabra. What began as a club grew into what SF Weekly called in 2003 “an in-demand troupe of welders, musicians, clowns, and general nutcases roughly two dozen strong.”
They made use of their widely varied skills. Club members created Rodeo-style comedic skits and stunts, featuring their metal steeds and riders as clowns, rustlers, and beauty queens. They rope audience members into the show, encouraging them to compete in contests of bike-riding skill, such as barrel racing, piñata-bashing and tall bike jousting, often accompanied by their own mariachi-country-punk band “Los Banos.” For the past ten years, the independently owned and operated Heavy Pedal Cyclecide Bike Rodeo has toured around the US and down into Mexico.
Flush with success from the rodeo show, they created the nation’s first and only pedal-powered carnival midway. First came the exciting Dizzy Toy, followed shortly by the Pedal-Powered Ferris Wheel, the nostalgic Bicycle Carousel, the charming Flight of the Bumblebee, the cacophonous Axe Grinder, and more. They’re still building, and they’re still devoted to the idea of the bicycle as a piece of interactive kinetic sculpture that can entertain, startle, and excite.
What they bring, perhaps, is a message of levity during politically and economically stressful times. What they will meet, most likely, will be blank stares.” San Francisco Chronicle April 2003
This year at the Faire, Cyclecide will have three of those midway rides plus a whole pen of hacked and mutant bikes for your riding pleasure.
See you Sunday, Cyclecide!

Battlebots Contender Wrecks Robotics at the Faire

Some robots build, others serve or assist, and some, like Wrecks the heavyweight Battlebot, destroy.
Battlebots are hardware gladiators.  They have their own TV show that recently was revived on ABC, and Wrecks is among the biggest of these competing this year. The heavyweight category, which initially included entrants from 120 to 220 pounds, last year accepted 250-pound competitors like Wrecks. Operated by remote control, the armed and armored machines fight in an arena designed for single-elimination combat.
Wrecks’ spinning steel disc provides it with both an effective weapon and a means of propulsion. But the wheel never touches the ground, instead propelling it forward through gyroscopic procession. By tilting the spinning blade, Wrecks rocks back and forth, scooting ahead on its large rear foot. As a “walkerbot” without wheels, Wrecks would have been granted a weight bonus according to early Battlebot rules, but that provision was removed by the time Wrecks entered competition, matching this against other heavy ‘bots.
Inspiration for Wrecks came to designer Dan Chatterton after watching an antweight robot named Gyrobot. He joins other Team Wrecks members Joe Sena, James Arluck, Orion Beach, and Adrian “Bunny” Dorsey, along with team captain Micah “Chewy” Leibowitz. Micah once turned a dog-house into a robot.
Come see what this East Bay-based warrior can do!

#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




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.




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!

That was one HECK of a show.

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We are overwhelmed with appreciation for the spectacular day on Sunday.  This year, our fourth, we showcased just under 200 makers and hosted 7,000 people on the combined venue of Park Day School and Studio One Art Center.  The weather was spectacular, the depth and variety of content superlative, the community feeling strong.  And we had the first-ever, full-scale crate stacking show very likely in the history of the planet!

Thanks go first to our makers, those creative, generous people.  There is no Maker Faire without you.  You are problem-solvers and you are by and large easy.  You collaborate.  You are curious and happy.  Thank you for sharing your talent and your process and your prowess.

Then there’s our partnersStudio One Art Center, a fantastic arts facility owned and operated by the City of Oakland—and MAKE magazine, the entity behind Maker Faire.  And our sponsors (just look to the right rail), those companies and institutions that understand the value of maker culture and how important it is to foster and encourage.

Finally there’s the community of Park Day School How many of you reading this realize that the East Bay Mini Maker Faire is produced and organized entirely by the parents and staff of this progressive Oakland K-8 school?  It’s a staggering accomplishment, even for a group of professionals, let alone volunteers.  Thank you parents and staff!

Some nice news / posts came out about the fair:

We’ve been collecting images and loading them into a Flickr feed Please please share your images and videos—there were so many unique experiences at the fair that we’re just plain curious to see what you saw! Let us know via comments here, on Facebook or Twitter or G+, or email us at

So *phew* we’re done for this year.  But before you forget all of this, we’ve got a survey for makers and a survey for attendees that we would so appreciate if you would take a moment to complete.  Your brilliant ideas, constructive critiques, and words of adoration are all very much desired and appreciated, and will help us be bigger, better, stronger, and more fun in 2014.  See you then.

Photos by Stephen Jacobson, Ben Smith, John Orbon, Sabrina Merlo, Karen Marcelo and Jeffrey Braverman/MAKE.  See the full Flickr gallery and attribution info here.

Shop a Little!

On Sunday, you’ll find an great variety of commercial makers in Studio One Plaza and Theater—the Makers’ Marketplace— and also in the Magnolia Circle at Park Day. Here’s a little preview:


Paper Punk

Grace Hawthorne, CEO/Publisher of ReadyMade, founded Paper Punk, an innovative paper-based building toy that provides endless imaginative and creative play for humans of all ages.

Slice of Delight.Halloween

A Slice of Delight in Berkeley
Founded by Hilary Goldman in 2009, after she transitioned out of high tech — where she’d worked for 35 hours — to launch into the new and exciting world of soap crafting. This mother of twins buys her soap base and colorants direct from local suppliers.


Kimonomomo in San Francisco

Founded in 2005 by Carol Ziogas, who learned how to sew in 1978 on a  vintage Singer machine back. She loves Japanese textiles “because they are beautiful. Growing up near San Francisco I was exposed to a tremendous amount of Asian art, and my mother was a textile junkie who quilted and collected Japanese fabrics herself. It rubbed off on me.”


DawnKathrynStudio an Etsy artist in Oakland

Other Commercials Makers….

  • Nous Savons
  • Parable Puzzles
  • Story Lamps
  • Touching the Ages
  • Animal Store
  • b-spired
  • Bay Area Models
  • Compass Rose
  • FiggyPudding 5A
  • Junkyard Couture
  • Monster Dream
  • New World Mosaic
  • Tiny Splendor  15A
  • Woodblock
  • Lee’s Haven
  • Sima’s
  • Robin MacLean
  • Bird of Virtue
  • Field Day
  • EGChu Handcrafted

The Public Debut of a New Sport: Crate Stacking!

sabrinacrate3Crate stacking is a game.  The objective is to stack as many upside-down plastic milk crates as possible and stand on the top. Stackers rest their feet in the handle holes of the milk crates, and the challenge is to place the next crate and transfer footings without losing balance and blowing the stack.

The set up is like indoor rock climbing or top rope climbing in that players are in a harness and are belayed for safety. Crates are tossed to the stacker when the stack is low, and then ferried by a rope on a pulley when the stack is high. When the stack inevitably blows, the stacker is held aloft as the milk crates scatter asunder. It’s fun. Really fun.

Want to try it? Crate Stacking will be going down on the front lawn of Studio One all day at East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Under 18 will need parents present to try.  The highest stackers will be invited to a stack-off at 4 PM.

Here’s Crate Stacking game maker Liam McNamara, landing a record 26 stack: