Maker Faire Rhode Island

Maker Faire Rhode Island



My first visit to Rhode Island was in 1990. I vividly remember getting off I-95 at the downtown Providence exit and being confronted by a multi-story pile of dirt at the end of the ramp. I became lost as I wandered beneath the highway overpasses, challenged to find the heart of the city. After moving here for college in 1991, my quest expanded beyond Providence. Over time, I became captivated by the diversity of people and ideas that I discovered wandering through so many small towns mostly by bicycle and occasionally by car. Almost twenty years later, that pile of dirt is long gone, replaced by revitalized buildings and newly invigorated community, but I have found what I had been looking for. A spirit of creativity and fostering innovation, what Bert Crenca, founder of the local community arts organization AS220, has described as the “compost heap” of art, design, technology, science and more, has come to define my experience in my adopted home.


Maker Faire RI , for me, is a celebration of this innovative spirit and the impact it has on peoples’ lives. In addition, it is a showcase for the cool projects people are working on in their garages and gardens, kitchens and basements, workshops and community centers. As an affiliate of MAKE Magazine and part of the larger Maker Faire community, we are bringing an event to Rhode Island and New England to gather together local Makers, Innovators, and Creative Thinkers. Our goal is to catalyze sharing of ideas, make connections between those with varied interests, and create opportunities for teaching and learning.


Maker Faire Rhode Island consists of a series of events organized by a dedicated team of volunteers and coordinated with other partner organizations. We begin with a kickoff party September 6th, during the Rocktucket Block Party, part of the Pawtucket Arts Festival.

The second event is a fundraiser for The Steel Yard in Providence, on September 12th. Come enjoy a family barbecue while watching local welders and artists compete for the title of Iron Chef Steel Yard.

From September 14th through the 17th, we have hands-on D.I.Y. workshops in Pawtucket at the Slater Mill, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. An historic mill building and working museum steeped in the history of industry and innovation in this country, the Slater Mill workshops are a great opportunity to connect the history and future of innovation in America. We’ll wrap up the workshops with a celebration at the art gallery and recording studio Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket.

Moving back to Providence on September 18th, we’ll meet the Makers at JTJ Investment’s Eco Office, at 27 Walcott St. This is the only “Net-Zero” office building in Rhode Island, and is the new home to a leading regional renewable energy concern, Alteris Renewables.


Finally, Makers will showcase their projects, gadgets, inventions, products, designs, technologies, fancy foods, and much more at the Maker Faire at Waterfire. With an audience ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 attendees, we expect to have a fantastic family friendly event.

The Iron Chef fundraiser requires a ticket purchase. All other events are free to attend. Workshop instructors may provide kits for sale at the Slater Mill D.I.Y. workshops.

26 thoughts on “Maker Faire Rhode Island

  1. luke says:

    Samuel Slater (who built the mill) is known as a traitor around here (Belper, UK) for stealing the mill plans from his boss over here!

    1. Brian Jepson says:

      Pawtucket and Belper are now sister cities:

      I have a drawing of Belper here at my place in Kingston, RI (it’s the town my grandfather is from).

    2. Kipp Bradford says:

      Luke, I’m glad you bring this up. The history of industrialization isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. We are celebrating the positives of our Maker community and we are working to increase the awareness of Slater Mill’s significance.

      As for the present and future, Pawtucket is twinned with Belper, England. So how can we get you involved, partner?

    3. Lee says:

      I sent the comment about Slater’s ‘stolen plans’ to a friend who’s researched the RI textile industry and this was her comment.

      Dear Lee,
      The critic who claims Slater stole plans is wrong. What Slater brought, above all, was the method of organizing a workforce so they [the workers] worked in tandem. This had been started by Arkwright in England, because his equipment was too big for cottage industries, so he had to build a factory. Then he had to teach the workers how to work on a kind of assembly line system, when they had been accustomed to working at home on their own time, or on the farm on nature’s clock. He did adapt the machinery that Brown and Almy already had in place, and that didn’t work efficiently (they were the original investors in the mill), and surely his adaptations were based on what he had observed in England, but that’s a long way from stealing plans. And thus is history written and rewritten!
      Thanks for the update. Fascinating!


  2. Tim says:

    Hmm I just went to a conference at URI. Kind of a nice place but

    a) There are no maps! What’s up with that?
    b) It’s a dry campus, and there are no bars nearby. Boo.

    1. Brian Jepson says:

      Yep, Kingston is mostly dry (I live there myself so I have to put up with that). There’s one restaurant/bar (Cucina Twist) and a pizza place (Tony’s) that serves beer but closes way too early. Both are about a mile from campus and just over the Kingston line. 2-3 miles gets you lots more options, but it doesn’t help if you’re stuck there without a car.

      There are two spots on campus, the University Club and the president’s house, that are able to serve booze. I don’t think it’s dry by law, just that the campus is most of the village, and it is mostly dry.

      Back to the Maker Faire, though… I posted a link to a map of the main event in my other comment; I’ve asked the volunteers who are working on the web site to get more maps up soon.

      Fortunately, Providence is not a dry town, nor is Pawtucket, so there will be plenty of places to drink.

  3. cyenobite2 says:

    I’m considering making a 6 hour drive for this event(s)… and I’m having a hard time understanding it also, based on the makerfaireri website. As Tim pointed out, there are no maps. This makes it difficult to choose a hotel to stay at.

    I’m still a little confused having been to several of the maker faire’s in CA… to be clear, this maker faire is not a single event sponsored by make magazine correct? It sounds like the main event is this “waterfire” event that will just happen to have “makers” there?

    Is the weekend event Saturday only? Is it only an outdoor event? Are there backup plans if the weather is bad?

    When I visit the other websites linked above (ie: Slaters Mill, and Waterfire) there is no mention of the maker faire?

    confused – please help :)

    1. Brian Jepson says:

      That’s right; this is a local event that’s not sponsored by Make. This is an adjunct to the WaterFire event, and the organizers of WaterFire are helping to make this Maker Faire possible. I do not know if and when the other sites will put up mention of the Maker Faire event.

      The September 19th event is the main event, and it’s outdoors, and only on Saturday. There are a couple of indoor spaces we are looking at as backups. We may have to use one or more to accommodate the makers who are exhibiting.

      Here’s a map of the main event on September 19:

      The red area is the main event; we might use the blue area if we need the space.

      I’ll relay all these concerns to the volunteers who are working on the web site, and make sure we get maps and more info up ASAP.

  4. cyenobite2 says:

    Thanks Brian for the quick responses.

    1. Kipp Bradford says:

      Keep an eye on the Maker Faire RI website. We will be adding details quickly in the coming days. I will also try to respond to comments/questions in a timely fashion.

  5. Brian Jepson says:

    The RI-Nexus calendar for September has of the events listed. At the detail level, there are Google Maps for each event location:

  6. sean says:

    Finally, someone does a great event that I want to attend on the east coast. I was getting rather depressed reading about all of these wonderful festivals and gatherings, but they all happen in Caulifloweria, erh, I mean California.

  7. ahenredon says:

    Providence/Pawtucket have been budding as creative and entrepreneurial centers. This event has great timing as Rhode Island has been needing more outlets for people to exhibit talent and great ideas.

    The Providence atmosphere is ideal for colleges, makers, designers, and entrepreneurs as it functions like a large city but offers a smaller testing ground for new ideas.

    I’m looking forward to this event.

    The comments on this post are hard to follow. Can we get some clarity on the scheduled events and some information about how the makers can take part? also a link to the website where this information is posted?


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Kipp Bradford is a technology consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for making things. He is the Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer in Engineering at Brown University, where he teaches several engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Kipp is also on the Technical Advisory Board for Make Magazine.

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