Austin Is on a Mission to Keep Maker Faire Weird

Maker News
Austin Is on a Mission to Keep Maker Faire Weird

No, you’re weird! By now, everyone has heard the unofficial slogan of the city of Austin, Texas: Keep Austin Weird. Originally meant to promote supporting small, locally owned businesses in Austin (versus big franchise stores), the slogan stuck over the years, because let’s face it: Austin is one of the most wonderfully weird places there is. With no shortage of self-expression, creativity, art, and supportive community in Austin, it’s also home to one of the longest-running Maker Faires. The 8th annual Maker Faire Austin takes place this weekend, May 13 and 14, at the Palmer Event Center. Aside from art collective Vision Gland’s immersive 12-room project that we profiled last week, there are a plethora of other unique and amazing projects and presentations on tap. Here’s a baker’s dozen to whet your appetite.

Total Unicorn

Total Unicorn is a machine that sounds, looks, and moves a certain way. Frequencies oscillate. Z spaces. Toes point. Creamy cells of uptempo love handles find this trio fragrantly modern, recently juvenile, infinitely uniform.

See Total Unicorn perform on Saturday, May 13, from 2:00 – 2:30 PM on the Dark Room Stage.

Send in the Clown

Multi-disciplinary artist April Garcia‘s favorite creative veins are soft sculpture, wearable art, installation, acting, costume design, and puppet design.

Austin Toy Museum

The Austin Toy Museum is a nonprofit which also offers art classes. They will demo silicone mask-making, resin casting, and mold-making techniques.

Paper Machine

Paper Machine is a collection of projects that combine simple materials such as papier-mâché/cardboard/foam with LEDs, motors, PC-cooling fans, and mechanical joints to create inventive and affordable costumes. Maker Jose Acosta is a classically trained sculptor with an engineering background, who likes to combine these disparate fields in making fun projects for his kids.

The Car with Ping Pong Balls On It

A “Houstonian through and through,” John Tyska and friends created “The Car with Ping Pong Balls On It” so they could participate in the annual Art Car Parade in Houston. They also used “Deely Bopper” headbands that were popular during the 1980s and replaced the sparkle stars with ping pong balls.

Flowers and Machinery

Hailing from the wild, wild watering holes of West Texas, artist Jeremy Williams, aka Chainsaw, will be bringing one of his propane flame sculptures. Despite formal training as a mathematician and a boring day job doing programming and statistics, Chainsaw spends much of his free time drinking fine tequila, butchering poetry, and building whatever whim captures his interest: electronics, inflatables, airplanes, guillotines, or street signs.

Bot Party

Bot Party artists and engineers present robots Annabelle and Doctor Head, in an offbeat and analog opportunity to meet and mingle with the human public.


Want to look techno-chic at Maker Faire? TechnoChic DIY light-up paper flowers and DIY light-up paper bow ties let you create, customize, and wear your own electronic creation for all to see.

Starry Night Balloon Dress

Nate the Great and Balloons by Pineapple are teaming up to create a couture balloon dress, this time based loosely on Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Come watch the build of the dress during the day on Saturday, or see it in a fashion show on Sunday.

TechStyles by SPARK Young Makers

SPARK Young Makers will design, create, and model their own TechStyles costumes. Utilizing the kids’ imaginations, knowledge of circuitry, and unlimited creativity, they’ve take ideas from pen and paper to the stage this spring.

Lee Bots

Lee Bots are robot sculptures that are handcrafted by Nancy Solbrig out of discarded electronics. Once on their way to the trash, these computers, printers, electrical conduit, etc., get torn apart and reassembled with new life as robots.

Percy Peacock

Percy Peacock is an art car whose most distinctive feature is his articulated tail feathers. Percy will show off his plumage when he wants to attract a peahen. This is accomplished via springs, pulleys, and a hand crank. Percy was made by an art class of homeschooled students (grades 1–12), taught by Sam and Nancy Jones at Home Ed Plus in Houston.

Dead Music Capital Band

Dead Music Capital Band is undying proof that the party won’t stop just because life does. Join the fun with the swingin’ sound from six feet down!

See Dead Music Capital Band play on Saturday from 4:30 – 5:00 PM on the Dark Room Stage.

For all the information you need to join the fun, wave your freak flag high, and be all that you can be, head to the Maker Faire Austin site. Stay weird, y’all!

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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 or via @snowgoli.

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