Making Friends at Maker Faire

Making Friends at Maker Faire
Make friends.

Maker Faire is a special place, where old friends are re-united and new bonds are formed. You may run into someone you only ever see once a year, or meet someone new that you’ll want to befriend for years to come.

One of the special things about Maker Faire is that most makers have great attitudes. They’re almost always ready to help out another maker in need. I’ve seen lots of incidents where a maker ran into trouble, forgot a tool, got stuck with a last minute patch on their project, or just needed an extra hand. More often than not, it is another maker that pitches in to help them through it.

Rebecca Strauss’ fiber, electronics and mixed media kinetic sculpture, Touched.

Last year my buddy Chris helped artist and first time Maker Faire exhibitor Rebecca Strauss. It was getting late on Friday, and Rebecca was getting increasingly anxious about her interactive kinetic project, Touched. Using electronics and servos was new to Rebecca, and some of her servos were misbehaving, or not moving at all.

“What you really need is an oscilloscope,” said Chris, after some more pedestrian troubleshooting techniques failed to provide a solution. “Luckily, I brought one with me just in case someone needed one.”

Chris saved the day, and Rebecca’s prominently displayed art was a huge hit that weekend.

Caipei and Hanfang Cao
Caipei and Hanfang Cao.

Husband and wife makers Caipei and Hanfang Cao came to Maker Faire for the very first time this year. They brought their quadcopters, some decorated in phoenix and dragon paper craft designs, to perform musical and aerobatic demonstrations. The windy weather conditions limited what they could do outside. The Maker Faire team approached a group of high school makers from FlowX26. Their life-sized game board held a premium spot just inside the main entrance to the NY Hall of Science. The FlowX26 team agreed to hand over their own place Sunday afternoon, to give Caipei and Hanfang a chance to really show their stuff. “We could actually use a break anyway,” one of the adults from the FlowX26 group joked. Caipei and his wife performed to an enthusiastic crowd and even won a Maker Faire Editors Blue Ribbon!

Sarah Hodsdon at the CRE8TIME table offered to help just about any and every maker in her vicinity! From the time she checked in to the end of the event, she embodied the idea of makers helping makers. She lent gear, helped set tables, and offered advice to new makers. “That’s just what we do, we’re Makers, and that’s what Maker Faire is all about!”

Destroyed Monster
Destroyed Monster.

Dan of Destroyed Monster, a large costumed piece made from scrap car parts, was behind schedule. He had half a ton of scrap auto parts that needed to be unloaded and assembled. Dan’s area manager for Maker Faire was running around trying to get other makers settled in. Unable to give Dan the attention he needed, he turned to some other makers for help. “Will you guys help me out and go over there and help Dan unload? Watch out for sharp things, it’s all car parts being reused for ancient Japanese Noh plays.” Somewhat to his amazement, off they all went.

Pop-up snow cone case.
Pop-up snow cone taste case.

Then there was Mark K. of Secret Noodle Truck acclaim (or not, after all it’s a secret) who was clandestinely buzzing around tapping makers on the shoulder and asking them if they wanted a snow cone. He would then proceed to make the treat by hand by shaving ice from a block of ice contained in another case, and flavoring them with syrups found in this one (including but not limited to rose water, coconut, coffee, cherry, lemon, lime, lavender, and cinnamon).

A special shout-out is due to the makers behind Pour-Steady, whose countless cups of joe helped fuel MAKE and Maker Faire crew alike throughout the event! Read all about their story here.

It’s not only makers who need help either. The team from IEEE lent a hand to Nick Normal, one of Maker Faire’s area managers, with securing some electrical cable to safety standards indoors. That really was incredibly helpful in the pinch of time he had available before opening the gates on Saturday.

Paul from FUBAR assists Eric from Maker Shed
Paul from FUBAR and Eric from Maker Shed.

Even after the show was over there was still time to make friends. Paul (left) from FUBAR Labs was a maker representing his local hackerspace as well as assisting with Soldering Sunday. The orange bucket visible in the photo is one of three 5 gallon buckets full of post-sintering powder. As Paul was rolling the buckets out, he literally asked in passing if anyone wanted the powder for extruding their own filament. A deal was quickly made between Paul and Eric Weinhoffer on behalf of the Maker Shed, that the powder would head back to Sebastopol, Calif. and eventually be homemade into filament.

I’m sure that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The stories of many helpful makers may go unsung, but they probably didn’t do it for the recognition anyway.

If you have a good story about a helpful maker at Maker Faire, please do share it in the comments.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

View more articles by Andrew Terranova

I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

View more articles by Nick Normal