Category Archives: Makers

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 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.

What is this Crazy Machine?

By Oliver Van Moon, Park Day School, 7th Grade

This crazy machine is an Eggbot, a robotic artist that can draw on ball or egg shaped objects like ping pong balls, eggs, golf balls, and lightbulbs. It uses several motors and a pen to draw a picture from a computer.

The Eggbot started in 1990 when Bruce Shapiro created the first one, just in time for Easter. He was interested in controlling stepper motors from his computer, and this led to the creation of this drawing robot.

The Eggbot has been used as a tool to teach about electronics and robotics. In 2009, Bruce, with some help, turned the Eggbot into a kit for “home assembly”. Now Eggbot will be at the Mini Maker Faire!

Who Makes up the Eggbot Team?
The Eggbot team consists of the core members Bruce Shapiro, Lenore Edman, Windell Oskay, Brian Schmalz, and Ben Trombley.
Bruce Shapiro is the main creator, and has done many other projects with “Motion Control”. For him, this means making art with motion controlled by a computer. Some of his other projects are interesting, like his Ribbon Dancer, a machine that waves long flowing ribbons in a dance.

Check them out at the Mini Maker Faire
See the Eggbot in action at their booth—and if you’re completely impressed, you can buy your own eggbot kit for $195.

Alginate plus Bonsai, Origami Cranes and More on the Workshop Stage

At 3PM on Sunday on the Workshops stage, artist Jason Hadley will subject himself to the skilled ministrations of his own children, Ruby and Arlo, as they make an Alginate life-cast of his face.  Jason has been making multimedia sculpture using life-casts of friends and family for years; now they get even. Dad won’t be able speak while they smother his face in that gooey, quick drying stuff that dentists use to make spookily accurate molds.

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Other workshops include hacking up your Gameboy so that it makes music (Making Music on Your Handheld Console with Little Piggy Tracker”); “PLARN” (learning to upcycle plastic shopping bags into yarn);  and Bonsai with the past president of the East Bay Bonsai Society, Bill Castellon

All good stuff that can’t be learned fully at a booth in the midst of a crowd.  Check the full lineup.

Fixit This Weekend

It’s raining, the kids battery-operated robot isn’t working. You’d sit and make tea and toast but the toaster is broken, and so is the kettle for that matter.

Just plan a little ahead and bring all your almost-working or seriously-broken small appliances, electronics, toys, and gadgets to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Peter Mui and his lovely Fixit Clinic team will provide workspace, specialty tools, and guidance to help you disassemble and troubleshoot your item. You’ll be back in tea and toast in no time. And, if for some reason it can’t be fixed, at least you’ll know more about how it works and why it broke in the first place.

Of course, if all attempts fail—just take it down the hall to the Wreck Lab and give it its due!

Watch the Fix-It Clinic in action here: