First Time at Maker Faire?

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First Time at Maker Faire?

Maker Faire Bay Area’s call for makers is open until March 15. Early bird tickets are on sale now, too. Prices go up March 15. Are you thinking of applying for a booth, maybe for the first time? Or maybe you’re planning on attending your first Maker Faire? I’m here to help.

Karen at Maker Faire Bay Area in 2012.

I’m writing a series of posts aimed at folks looking forward to their first experience at the upcoming Maker Faire Bay Area (May 18-19 in San Mateo, Calif.). I’d like to help out by answering your questions directly, documenting some of my own experiences as an exhibitor at Maker Faire, and interviewing folks at MAKE for advice on enjoying the fair.

Why me?
I’ve been a maker at several fairs now, exhibiting work as Tanenbaum Fabrications, a small design/tech/maker studio I run with my husband. We make steampunk props and costumes, experiment with Arduino, and like to tell stories. We also study and write about technology academically (I just finished my PhD in Interactive Arts & Technology). Our first booth was at the Mini Maker Faire in Vancouver, BC in June 2011. We did the Bay Area Maker Faire last year and most recently we were at the Portland Mini Maker Faire this past September. Each time, we did something a little different–an interactive storytelling system, a steampunk prop making workshop, and a jewelry making activity.

Assorted Steampunkery from Tanenbaum Fabrications

We’re definitely not pros at this. We do it because we make fun stuff and like to share it with people and to see what kind of fun stuff they can make as well. We enjoy talking to like-minded makers, or even un-like-minded makers because it inspires us and teaches new things. So I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can encourage others to come out and join us.

What next?
That depends partly on you, the MAKE community. Email me ( or leave me a comment here if there’s something specific you’d like to know about and I’ll try and address it. At first, I’ll be focusing on the process of applying to be an exhibitor at Maker Faire since that deadline is coming up. Then I’ll discuss preparing a booth for the fair and what to expect as a participant or an exhibitor. I hope other experienced Maker Faire attendees and exhibitors will join in the conversation, too. I certainly don’t know everything and there are lots of different ways to approach the fair. The most important thing, though, is just to have fun and celebrate the joys of making stuff!

8 thoughts on “First Time at Maker Faire?

  1. First Time at Maker Faire? Sherry Huss says:

    Welcome Karen! Glad to have you join the team and know that our Maker Faire audience is going to be thrilled to have your reports and insight as we count down to Maker Faire!

    1. Karen Tanenbaum says:

      Happy to be here!

  2. says:

    I’m planning on going to the New York show and I was wondering if there is enough to do for two days or would you say I should plan for one?

    1. Karen Tanenbaum says:

      I haven’t been to the New York Faire, but it’s one of the flagship faires, along with the Bay Area one, and I believe they are roughly the same size. I would say you can *see* the whole fair in one day, but you would want 2 days to fully *experience* it. There are lots of talks, workshops, interactive activities, and shows scheduled throughout the weekend. If you just want to take a look at all the cool stuff, a one day pass will be enough. If you really want to dig in and play and interact and learn, you may want to give yourself more time. You can see the program from last year’s NY Faire here to get a sense of everything that is going on there:

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I am a technology researcher and designer; a Steampunk prop maker and costumer; a writer of both academic papers and blog posts; a voracious reader/watcher of science fiction. I am currently contributing to MAKE by writing about the Maker Faire. You can contact me via

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