Save the Date: Maker Faire NYC is September 17 and 18

Electronics Experiments GeekMom


Making flashing LED pins in the "learn to solder" tent with one of GeekMom's fearless editors--Maker Faire NY, 2010. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm

The second-born child came up to me a few days ago and announced gravely: “Mom! ComicCon is in October and I need to prepare. I think today I would like you to teach me how to make a sword.”

“You mean: a cardboard sword, right?”

“No, no, no! A metal sword–steel.”  Looking piercingly out toward the horizon, he added, “Ideally, it should look as if it’s encrusted in diamonds…”

I find this 12-year-old’s faith in my smelting and gem-mining abilities gratifying, and his interest in making stuff near-inspirational, but the sad truth of the matter is that I didn’t have a craft-y upbringing. Mostly, my formative years were spent reading, perfecting my Ms. Pac-man skills, and wrangling invites to houses with MTV. I never learned to knit or sew or garden or cook as a kid and I feel a little as if I’ve been playing catch-up ever since–particularly at moments like this.

“We could make cookies…” I counter-offer invitingly.

This kid is all business, though. “Nope, I need a sword. Also? Velvet boots, a vest, and a hat with a tassel.”

In a nutshell, this is why I love Maker Faire NYC–which is coming to the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens on September 17 and 18. Part cosplay carnival, part social-political movement, part space-age craft fair (the New York Times described last year’s event as “Engineering Prowess meets Burning Man“), I guarantee you: there will be someone at Maker Faire who knows how to make a metal sword, as well as people who can teach me to:

  • Make my own phonograph from a wire coat hanger, a pencil, construction paper, a rubber band, some tape, and a pin.
  • Craft my own pinata, soap, or upcycled works of art.
  • Pick locks.
  • Reprogram robotic toys.
  • Decorate glass beads with nothing but moxy, glass rods and a butane torch.
  • Pick more locks.
  • Design and craft my own zombie doll.
  • Solder (See picture above. I did this last year. I am not, as it turns out, a natural).

If you’re interested in attending, tickets can be purchased in advance from the Maker Faire NYC site (there is so much to do and see at this event, you really won’t want to waste time on an admission line). You can find out more about Maker Faire by subscribing to its Facebook and Twitter feeds or by viewing tagged pictures at Flickr.

This year, there will be a GeekMom/GeekDad booth, too (details to come shortly). So, if you and your family make it to Maker Faire, make sure to drop by and say hello!–particularly if you know anything about sword-making.

Pedal-powered carnival ride. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm
Come for the Utilikilts, stay for the fun! Photo: Andrea Schwalm

I am reminded of The Oatmeal’s impotent Utilikilt rage every time I look at this shot.

“Submit” t-shirt sold separately–and possibly Utilikilt-overkill.

Oobleck: squishy, drippy, turns as hard as stone when you run on it. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm
Frankly, I had lost the second son at this point and was scrambling from exhibit to exhibit searching for him--so I can't tell you what's going on here. I must have been only so concerned, however, as I took time to grab this pic. Upshot: make sure everyone brings their cell phones, this is a gigantic venue!. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm
One of the many inventions on display last year: The Eggbot 2000. I don't know exactly what it does--and yet I want one... Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm
Crowd of people I was stuck behind for Eepybird's "Mentos and Diet Coke Fountain." Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm

And, finally: the first-born son shows up at the 1:45 mark of this little stop-action movie. The photographer/filmmaker invited Maker Faire attendees to improvise in front of his green screen and then made a short movie out the results.


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