Smile Politely

Make time for Mini Maker Faire on Saturday

It’s that time of year when there are more things to do than hours in the day. So, you’ll probably have to make some tough choices when it comes to how to spend your weekend. The Urbana-Champaign Mini Maker Faire is happening on Saturday at the U-C Independent Media Center. The event begins at 10 a.m. and will continue until 4 p.m.

You probably have questions at this point. Such as: What is Maker Faire? Well, according to the Maker Faire’s fantastic website, “Urbana-Champaign Mini Maker Faire is a one-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, music, science, and technology projects and the Do-It-Yourself spirit in our community. At the U-C Mini Maker Faire, the focus is on the process of making — not just the finished product.”

Why should you go? Well, for starters, thanks to a City of Urbana Arts Grant, it’s free. And there’s currently a roster of 23 Makers scheduled to attend, from model rocketry to screen printing, letter writers to inkdot artists.

You probably still have questions. OK, well, here’s a handy video:

What is Maker Faire? from Suzanne Linder on Vimeo.

Disclosure: I will be representing the Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign as at the very minimum the 23rd-coolest maker at the Faire.

On the off chance that all of your questions were not yet answered, I enlisted one of the event’s organizers, Suzanne Linder, to help.

Smile Politely: How did you get involved in organizing the Mini Maker Faire?

Suzanne Linder: My partner, Jay Schubert, and I got a gift subscription to MAKE Magazine when it first began publication and we loved looking at their projects, but never got around to actually following their instructions. When CRAFT started up, I subscribed and, being much more of a crafty-type, I made several items featured in their magazine and then on the craftzine blog, so I knew about Maker Faires and thought they were rad way before one was hosted here. I knit and sew and stitch and cook and dabble in letter press and generally enjoy making things, so I like seeing what other people are doing and I love the way that Maker Faires combine craft and technology and are focused on teaching people how to make things. Through blogging about my crafty projects I’ve met all kinds of generous people who inspire me to try new skills and I think of Maker Faire as a way to find out about cool things being made locally. My step-son is also a crazy maker — he is always taking things apart and putting them back together in unsuspecting ways (my favorite is a Lego USB drive he hacked a couple years ago) — and I really like that Maker Faires don’t discriminate by age. Anyone who is making something cool is welcome to show their project and everyone gets to hang out and talk about making things. 

I got involved in organizing this year’s Urbana-Champaign Mini Maker Faire because I volunteered to be a door attendant at last year’s MMF and told Sarah Dolinar (one of the original co-organizers of UCMMF) that I would help organize things this year.

SP: If you’re trying to convince someone to attend the Faire, what would you use as the best example of a reason they should attend?

Linder: I think there is something for everyone at this year’s Maker Faire from model rockets, to crazy musical instruments, to typewriters, to finger knitting, and entrance is free (thanks to an Urbana Public Arts Grant). I’m really impressed with how our makers have thought about how to have a hands-on activity in their booth — so the Campus Middle School for Girls Robotics team will be showing off what they have built, but they will also have extra Lego Robotics on hand for attendees to try their hand at building a robot. I know that people who visit the faire can print something on a letter press, see a silk screening demo, make a model rocket, learn to solder, use a vinyl printer and so much more. There is a lot of really cool stuff being made in our community and a lot of people excited to talk about how they make it. The ethos of a Maker Faire is that technology is for everyone — so there is no feeling like, “Oh, I’m an expert and you could never learn to do this.” Instead, all the makers are there because they are so geeked out about what they make and they want to teach people how to make things as well. Did I mention it’s free and there is lots of stuff for kids?

More Articles