It huuuuuuuurts! After four days on the Maker Faire compound, I'm having a tough time readjusting to civilian life. The Zen Paintball booth was a smashing (splatting?) success. I should've seen it coming, but I didn't anticipate that 80% of my paintball artists would be kids! THAT was a great surprise. Claire and I had a blast helping young artists realize that they don't need a brush or crayons to make art. I like to go on diatribes about how overprotective parents can be. The Maker Faire parents were an entirely different breed. We had parents helping some tiiiiiiny toddlers pull the trigger on the paintball gun. My faith in parenting is restored.
Highlights of Maker Faire included finally getting to see Greg McLaurin's Judy Garland Ghost Phone. McLaurin mashed up an MP3 player with an antique phone that channels a hopped-up Judy Garland. The vibe is completed with the addition of a vintage telephone desk and period-perfect Hollywood pill bottles.
Another treat was Philip Ross, who likes to create art in controlled environments. Among other things, he grows plants in specially blown glassware that permit limited growth. He showed a project called "Chronic Revelator" that involved his slowly tumbling a group of digital cameras in a cement mixer until they became rounded little steampunk jewels. Speaking of steampunk, I was completely unprepared for the hundreds of kids running around in velvet jackets, driving goggles and top hats. Could the coolhunters really see this Jules Verne fad coming a couple of years ago?
Another great treat was getting to meet Mister Jalopy, whose new weblog, Dinosaurs and Robots has been keeping me entertained. At Maker Day on Thursday, he gave a great talk about "true believers"--the tiny fraction of obsessed fans that drive innovation when given the chance. When I mentioned that his post about the "portable childhood museum" (pictured at left) changed my life, he mentioned that HE HAD IT WITH HIM! Mister Jalopy led Claire and I to MAKE's top secret compound and let us rummage through the jar's contents. Could American boyness ever be crystallized into anything so pure? This Skippy peanut butter jar is the physical manifestation of The Dangerous Book for Boys.
Another cool person we met was Perry Kaye, an inventor who may have just changed the face of craft. His new creation, Color Cutter, looks like an ordinary felt-tip marker. When you draw with color cutter, though, it cuts as it draws! You can push on the marker tip all you want, but it will only cut against a flat surface. Claire and I spent considerable time hanging out with him, and even got to take a sample with us. At dinner later that night with a bunch of jewelers, Color Cutter stole the show.
Lenore from Evil Mad Scientist Labs was also awesome. She was displaying her beautifully geeky quilts, as well as other hardcore projects like CandyFab, a 3D sugar printer, an amazing light sensitive LED coffee table and an arena for fighting toothbrush robots. I also managed to not break my ass on Tom Kabat's wooden bikes.... but not for lack of trying. Claire and I were also very charmed by Tom's sister-in-law Alicia's Dumpster Divers Anonymous booth next door. It was great to hang out with microfilm basket weavers while people negotiated some of the most extreme bicycles on the planet.
I could go on and on. Offal Tacos! Kathy Murillo of Crafty Chica! Lifelike dinosaur robots! Buscycle! Robot Wars! Mythbusters! Chocolate Tasting! CNC Everything! Fire! Homemade airplanes! Swap-o-Rama Rama! Robotic Singer Sewing Machines! The folks from MAKE and CRAFT! Plywood Pinball machines! A Steampatriot in a tricorner hat! Strolling accordion troubadors! Mobile cupcakes! Art Golf! If a person could dream it or hack it, it was at Maker Faire. I'm getting exhausted all over again just writing this. I haven't dumped all of my pictures from our Zen Paintball booth yet, but I promise I'll do it soon. Until next year, Maker Faire.....or Austin if I need my fix sooner.