Friend of MAKE, Andrew “Drew” Ratcliff is one member of a team of Cleveland and Brooklyn-based artists and engineers. He’s also one of the makers of the Waterfall Swing, which has made appearances at the Bay Area and New York Maker Faires, and that you might have seen recently on national television.
Having recently moved to Brooklyn, NY, I returned to my old home in Cleveland this past weekend and attended the city’s first Maker Faire. This mini version of a full-blown Maker Faire was hosted by the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library and sponsored by Ingenuity Fest. Cleveland has a rich tradition of arts philanthropy with several museums – notably the Cleveland Museum of Art – still offering free admission. In that spirit this Mini Maker Faire was free too.
Two buildings form the main branch of the public library. There is the historic building completed in 1925 and the modern Louis Stokes Wing completed in 1997. Both buildings have amazing architectural details that library and architecture aficionados will appreciate (images below). The Mini Maker Faire was hosted in the new building and was spread out over six floors.
Here’s what I found touring the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire:
It’s not unusual to see 3D printers at a Maker Faire, but I was surprised that the printers I saw were a permanent part of the library. CJ Lynce, the Director of the new TechCenter, believes CPL is the first library to offer 3D printing and instruction to patrons. There are also 90 workstations, 5 Macs, and 5 Linux machines open to the public. The center also offers classes and specialized software.
I met Jim Polster, the inventor of Pole-Ster Camera, a pole system for taking photos. It provides a simple solution for inspectors or other folks that want to snap photos of hard-to-reach places. A Cleveland-made product that uses re-purposed parts like a retractable dog leash.
I found a group gathered around Jim McNaughton who was operating an old letter punch machine. He was carefully spelling out the names of the kids, one letter at a time, making bookmarks out of wood veneer. Jim and his business partner left traditional corporate jobs and started a community-based woodshop on the near west side of Cleveland that he describes as a “YMCA of woodworking” that is open to the public and educational.
Xander Golightly showed me a set of cubes that can be connected to form little robots. She works at a hackerspace in nearby Akron that teaches kids about electronics and programming.
I joined my college friend Bruce Onutz and his 6-year-old son Zoltan to make a kinetic light rattle. It was Zoltan’s first experience soldering and he was soon melting metal like a pro with the patient help of Jenn Figg. After half an hour of careful bending, twisting and soldering we ended up with a little drum filled with ball bearings that lights up LEDs attached to the ends when shaken. The drum works by vibrating sheets of quartz crystals mounted on the inside of the drum.
Here are other attendees learning to solder.
Like a fuzzy, more friendly version of Stelarc’s Exoskeleton, Doosung Yoo demonstrated the Vishauroborg, his pneumatically actuated apparatus which is controlled by a knitted controls that one wears on their arms like a sweater without a body.
And lastly a shot of the ground floor of the central atrium in the new wing.
After leaving the Maker Faire, I took a tour of the library’s historic building which is has a tranquil contrast to the buzz and vibrance of the modern building. Check out the photos to see what I found there.
The main branch's historic building is on the left, and the expansion wing is on the right.
Interior tile work in the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
The towering staircase and interior atrium of the new building.
Interior of the historic building.
Curving walls of windows in the new wing.