8 Amazing Maker Faire Detroit Exhibits to Gawk at This Weekend

Maker News

One of the longest-running Maker Faires in the world, Maker Faire Detroit has been showcasing maker-made creations for eight years in a row. Curated and organized by The Henry Ford museum, an institution deeply rooted in the American traditions of innovation, resourcefulness, and ingenuity since 1933, it’s a match made in heaven. Last year, the Faire hosted nearly 400 makers and welcomes 26,000 attendees, opening eyes, hearts, and minds to the wonders of the Maker Movement.

Every year, there’s a healthy mix of fresh, new projects and classic favorites. Among the new this year is American font pioneers House Industries, the Heavy Meta art car (pictured above), the Mini Tesla Coil Quartet, and the 4K film Coral Therapy (details about each below). In honor of Maker Faire Detroit’s eight years of celebrating making, we present eight of the amazing exhibits you won’t want to miss. Be sure to check out the Maker Faire Detroit website for all the information you need to attend, as well as a full list of makers and exhibitors and a robust lineup of performances, workshops, talks, and demos.

But first, here’s a video and a series of images from last year’s Maker Faire Detroit to give you an idea of the diversity and inclusiveness of this great event.

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House Industries Exhibit + Jenny Hart and Aaron Draplin

Known throughout the world for its eclectic fonts and far-reaching creative exploits, House Industries has been a standard-bearer of American design for 25 years. Chances are that most people in the world have seen House fonts on movie posters, magazine covers, websites or even cereal boxes. House Industries has worked with a wide range of collaborators including Jimmy Kimmel, Hermès, The New Yorker, John Mayer, Muji, the Estate of Charles and Ray Eames, Uniqlo and Heath Ceramics.

The temporary Henry Ford exhibit A Type of Learning is part retrospective, part art installation and part call to action. This 7500 square-foot multi-sensory exhibition informs, teaches and, most importantly, empowers people from all walks of life to follow their interests, embrace their influences and find personal fulfillment in their own creative pursuits. The exhibit is embedded with an infectious sense of possibility—that everyday objects can fuel monumental ideas and ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

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House Industries is sponsoring sessions at Maker Faire Detroit with Los Angeles-based fine artist and embroidery designer Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching and legendary graphic designer and Detroit native Aaron Draplin of the Draplin Design Co. Come learn instant embroidering with Hart and projects, process, and products with Draplin.


Heavy Meta Dragon Art Car

Heavy Meta is a 30 foot-long, mobile metal dragon made of hand-cut, hand-welded sheet metal panels built atop a GM bus. She is a terrifying and beautiful beast, and of course Heavy Meta shoots fireballs from the tail and animatronic mouth. Heavy Meta was crafted by a group of makers from Toronto, Canada who range from high school students doing their co-op at the shop, to professional metalworkers and marine engineers.

Mini Tesla Coil Quartet

Come experience the musical lightning bolts of Tesla Orchestra’s Mini Tesla Coil Quartet! Three-foot bolts of artificial lighting are modulated to generate musical notes. Each coil can play one or two notes, and the four together can play complex harmonies. Every spark unleashes a bolt of plasma that makes the air explode. Repeat these explosions fast enough and you get a musical note. Four coils, four notes. Custom electronic hardware and software convert MIDI-encoded music to pulses of light. At the other end of four fiber optic cables, the powerful amplifiers in the bases of each coil transform 300-volt DC power into hundreds of thousands of volts of musical lightning. They are mini versions of their huge coils, shown in the video below.

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Coral Therapy

Be mesmerized and relaxed by the fluorescent beauty of the coral reef in high-definition 4K on Michigan’s largest movie theater screen, The Henry Ford’s Giant Screen Experience. Marine biologist Colin Foord, cofounder (along with musician Jared McKay) of the unique art-science hybrid endeavor in Miami known as Coral Morphologic, will be on hand to discuss their goals. Coral Morphologic is the leading creator of innovative underwater media chronicling Earth’s imperiled coral reefs. It was founded in 2007 as a multi­faceted platform for the advancement of symbiosis between humans and coral. Coral Morphologic’s unique methodology blends science and art in a way that enamors popular culture with the beauty of coral while inspiring the next generation to restore the reefs.

Detroit Drone User Group

As the chartered Detroit chapter of the Drone User Group Network (DUGN), one of the world’s largest networks of civilian drone users, the Detroit Drone User Group is set up as a way for local drone enthusiasts to get together for fun and learning. They meet monthly at the TechShop Detroit for swapping and tech talk.

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Pedal-Powered Beasts

Imagine an aluminum bison trundling down Mack Ave or a scaled 19-foot pangolin waddling into a middle school parking lot. These pedal-powered beasts deliver school-aged passengers to 826 Michigan learning programs tutoring with courage, humor, and joy. The mechanical animals are a joint project between artist Juan Martinez and author Dave Eggers for 826 Michigan.

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What’s not to love about a giant mobile version of the Scrubbing Bubbles mascot, Scrubby? The brainchild of Detroit native, engineer, artist, maker, and hacker Eddy Bullock, Scrubby was originally created for Burning Man and will be rolling around the Faire making sure everyone is having good, clean fun.

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Capn Nemo’s Flaming Carnival

Come one, come all to Capn Nemo’s Flaming Carnival, created by an intrepid group consists of builders, artists, performers, support folks, and liberal supply of techno-geeks, who work both professionally and personally in their respective fields. They build interactive flame-effects, fire-based games, and other interactive exhibits, as well as a puppet theater, life-sized Operation game, wireless Arduino controls, and much hands-on interaction and learning.

Presented by GE Digital

And finally, a shout out to Maker Faire Detroit’s presenting sponsor, GE Digital, the leading software company for the Industrial Internet, reimagining industry’s infrastructure by connecting software, apps and analytics to industrial businesses. Powered by Predix, GE Digital creates software to design, build, operate, and manage the entire asset lifecycle — enabling industrial businesses to operate faster, smarter and more efficiently. We appreciate their support of the Maker Movement. Check out this insightful video outlining GE’s 125 years of innovation:

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

View more articles by Goli Mohammadi


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