From Oakland to Ottawa: The Serpent Twins Bring Their Magic to Canada

Maker News
From Oakland to Ottawa: The Serpent Twins Bring Their Magic to Canada

Some projects are hard to forget once you’ve laid eyes on them, so entrancing that you’d swear their makers must’ve added a bit of magic and the stuff dreams are made of. The mighty Serpent Twins, a pair of 50-foot kinetic mobile sculptures rendered in metal and cast-off materials, are a perfect example. Born of the imaginations of talented Oakland, California-based makers Kyrsten Mate and Jon Sarriugarte, the Serpent Twins are now 7 years old, having originally been forged for Burning Man 2011. They’re also no strangers to Maker Faires around the globe, but this weekend, they’ve made the pilgrimage to the Canadian capital for the 7th annual Maker Faire Ottawa, taking place September 29+30 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The Twins and the Faire can celebrate being 7 together, in the fine company of about 100 other amazing makers and up to 10,000 attendees.

Each Serpent features a huge display of LED lights the length of its body capable of creating rainbows, plasma fields, water drops, fire, and video, made possible by an array of over 15,000 individually addressable LEDs. Add to this a soundtrack of serpent calls designed at Skywalker Sound by Kyrsten, played on the 2000-watt sound system built into each head, and you’ll rest assured that the Empire is Dirt is restoring ancient mythos to the modern world.

Ever wonder how you ship a 50-foot Serpent far away? We wondered too, and had to find out.

Aside from The Serpent Twins, Kyrsten and Jon, along with their Empire of Dirt crew, will also be bringing “Electrobite: Sarriugarteis (Olenoides) trilobite,” a friendly, zippy little prehistoric steampunk fossil with luminescent eyes and and otherworldly glow emanating from its hard metal exoskeleton.


And what’s perhaps most amazing of all is that Kyrsten and Jon’s daughter Zolie Mae Sarriugarte, who attended her first Maker Faire as a baby, will be presenting her own ingenious invention, Spikey the art car.

Kyrsten and Jon will also be speaking on both Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. about combining industrial art, blacksmithing, and sound design to create the whimsical creatures of Empire of Dirt. Zolie Mae is also giving a talk both days at 10 a.m. about how she and her friend Karydis Johnson converted a Barbie Jeep into a Mad Max art car!

The Empire of Dirt crew will be joined at Maker Faire Ottawa by 100+ other inspiring makers of all stripes. Be sure to check out the full list of makers, as well as the packed schedule of talks and workshops.

What else can you expect to see?

How about a 40-foot Lego bridge, the longest in North America, built by Doug Pengelly?

And then there’s the Chromatograph presented by Artengine:

And the Droid Builder’s Club with their functional droids, including R2-D2, R2-T54 and BB-8.

And Code Girl Canada‘s wearable technology using EV3 Lego Robotics parts that can be programmed using Lego Blocks.

And the Hive Sense tool to track bee hive health and activity in a less invasive manner compared to traditional beekeeping methods.

And so much more!

All the information you need to join the fun is on the Maker Faire Ottawa website!

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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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