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Above: Foo Fest on Empire Street; Below: People of all ages Learning to Solder at the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire.

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This past weekend I took a quick jaunt up to Providence to attend the 5th annual Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire. Taking place in the smallest state in the Union, there’s nothing slight about this Mini Maker Faire. The past few years they’ve teamed up with the pioneering non-profit arts organization AS220 and their annual Foo Fest, formerly Fool’s Ball. Closing off Empire Street between Washington and Westminster Streets, the Mini Maker Faire takes place inside of Foo Fest, with approximately 5,000 people showing up for this annual event.

Food trucks and carts packed one end of the block, while a large music stage occupied the other end. In the middle, multiple tents of varying sizes were scattered throughout, with stores along the street opening their doors and curating events – from music acts to a flea market – to coincide with Foo Fest.

The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire takes places inside the Pell Chafee Performance Center, a former bank turned dance and theater venue with a three-story tall ceiling. More than 30 makers filled the floor, with projects ranging from interactive and hands-on activities to commercial crafters.

Regional hacker- and makerspaces were in attendance, including Cape Cod Makers, Close Quarters, and South Coast Innovators Lab (SCIL).

Crafters ranged from wearable comic art accessories to robot-themed apparel, from recycled glass art to laser-etched wares.

The “pinvention” pinball machine by David M. Gaskill, PE produced a pleasant bing-ding-ding sound throughout the space all day long. One of the surprise projects was the Self Balancing People Mover by Adrian Niles, a homemade Segway that recently competed for and won a national engineering award. Adrian’s project will also be on view next month at World Maker Faire in NYC.

And then there was 3D Printing. A dozen different models of 3D printers were busy extruding throughout the day, introducing many attendees to this now staple Maker Faire tech. Along with the machines themselves, DIY action figures allowed kids and adults alike to interact with physically printed toys. A self-portrait bust and movie and video game props showed how 3D printing can extend into other areas of artistic expression. While the 3D Print Mars Settlement asked ‘why not’ when it comes to print-on-demand-on-another-planet.

Meanwhile on the street makers including the Rhode Island Brewing Society & Brooklyn Aerodrome demonstrated their projects, while a fish-like AquaBike roamed around outside the event perimeter.

Under the main tent in the street AS220 Labs provided crafting & silkscreening activities, along with photobooths, costumed performances, a book fair and zine library, and so much more. The pictures below further document some of the projects on view.

The real takeaway moment was when I looked around and realized the numerous contributions Providence and Rhode Island at large (while being a small state) have made to Maker Faire from coast to coast. From flameworking to 3D printing to AS220 Labs – from art technique to hobbyist manufacturing to membership-driven organizations – there’s a nexus of creativity in the Hope state. Like the founding principles of that state, there’s a unique maker freedom to be explored there.

And now for the pictures!

The evening before the launch of Foo Fest and the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire, a couple dozen makers, artists, and designers met up at Betaspring to enjoy beer & pizza & good conversation:

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It seems marching bands and Maker Faires go well together when it comes to opening the doors and getting the day going.

It seems marching bands and Maker Faires go well together when it comes to opening the doors and getting the day going.

One of Jeff Del Papa's frankenbikes. This one could replace your blender during a blackout.

One of Jeff Del Papa’s frankenbikes. This one could replace your blender during a blackout.

This 'Rocket Stove' made from a 3000g illy espresso can was presented by Pawtucket's hacker/makerspace Close Quarters.

This ‘Rocket Stove’ made from a 3000g illy espresso can was presented by Pawtucket’s hacker/makerspace Close Quarters.

Chris Connors and company from Cape Cod Makers demonstrate their projects for curious kids.

Chris Connors and company from Cape Cod Makers demonstrate their projects for curious kids.

Anna Kaziunas France's "Self Portrait as Kali" used "3D scans of both a skull and the artist. The skull scans were then 3D printed to form a necklace and a belt. Multiple self scans were merged to create a 3D model with two sets of arms that was then sliced and CNC routed and used as a stand for the necklace and belt."

Anna Kaziunas France’s “Self Portrait as Kali” used “3D scans of both a skull and the artist. The skull scans were then 3D printed to form a necklace and a belt. Multiple self scans were merged to create a 3D model with two sets of arms that was then sliced and CNC routed and used as a stand for the necklace and belt.”

Nick Iacobbo's 3D printed movie and video game props were a big hit.

Nick Iacobbo’s 3D printed movie and video game props were a big hit.

An entire family tinker with Wayne Losey's ModiBot DIY action figures.

An entire family tinker with Wayne Losey’s ModiBot DIY action figures.

Arvid Tomayko's "Massachusetts Geophonic" let the user make music from geologic data courtesy of the USGS. Data such as bedrock age, faults, and surface covering depth were correlated to sounds produced in software.

Arvid Tomayko’s “Massachusetts Geophonic” let the user make music from geologic data courtesy of the USGS. Data such as bedrock age, faults, and surface covering depth were correlated to sounds produced in software.

Kathy Ceceri demonstrates a "Low Tech/No Tech" solarbot made from cheap materials like discarded CDs and food containers.

Kathy Ceceri demonstrates a “Low Tech/No Tech” solarbot made from cheap materials like discarded CDs and food containers.

One of my favorite stumbleupons were the "Pinventions" of David M. Gaskill, PE who combines old and new tech to give pinball machines another life. This Bruce Springsteen-inspired machine included an incredible effect on that faux record in next to the paddles. Check it out in action in the subsequent video!

One of my favorite stumbleupons were the “Pinventions” of David M. Gaskill, PE who combines old and contemporary tech to give pinball machines a new life. This Bruce Springsteen-inspired machine included an incredible LED-powered effect inside that faux record adjacent to the paddles. Check it out in action in the subsequent video!

 

Bruce Mackenzie talks with folk about the prospect of 3D printing a future Mars settlement. I'm not kidding.

Bruce Mackenzie talks with folk about the prospect of 3D printing a future Mars settlement. I’m not kidding.

AS220 Labs hosted the Learn to Solder station, always a big hit with makers of all ages.

AS220 Labs hosted the Learn to Solder station, always a big hit with makers of all ages.

Outside, Breck Baldwin from Brooklyn Aerodrome discusses flying wing RC planes and... bananas!

Outside, Breck Baldwin from Brooklyn Aerodrome discusses flying wing RC planes and… bananas!

Up in the skies: an airplane, a blimp, and the Brooklyn Aerodrome flyer.

Up in the skies: an airplane, a blimp, and the Brooklyn Aerodrome flyer.

On the outside stage this musician's harpoon-guitar was laser-etched at AS220 Labs.

On the outside stage this musician’s harpoon-guitar was laser-etched at AS220 Labs.

AS220 Labs were also demonstrating vacuum forming equipment.

AS220 Labs were also demonstrating vacuum forming equipment.

Even the food trucks were maker-inspired with unique map-covered serving shelves.

Even the food trucks were maker-inspired with unique map-covered serving shelves.

That same food truck even provided "human seating upstairs" on top of the vehicle.

That same food truck even provided “human seating upstairs” on top of the vehicle.

Always great to see Big Nazo!

Always great to see Big Nazo!

Live silkscreening provided by AS220 Labs.

Live silkscreening provided by AS220 Labs.

Later in the evening, after sunset when things started winding down, I took a tour of the actual AS220 Labs. Thanks to Chris for suggesting the idea and James for leading us through their wonderful space.

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Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!


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