Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini Maker Faire! ...And a Cat Show

On Saturday I went to my very first Maker Faire - albeit just a Mini one - where I realized there is SO MUCH cool stuff out there I still want to learn. Then we went to a cat show next door, where I realized - again - that CATS ARE AWESOME. (And I want to pet a hairless cat. I do. I bet they feel like warm velvet. Mmmmm.)


If you've never heard of them, Maker Faires are a celebration of makers - DIYers, hackers, programmers, and other crafty types. At our little one here in Orlando we had a smattering of prop builders, artists, 3D printer programmers, model rocket builders, and other assorted scientists and geeky types. It was small - all housed in one giant warehouse at the fairgrounds - but John and I still managed to spend an enjoyable few hours browsing and chatting with the exhibitors.

The end where we entered had a robot arena, where kids were allowed to drive some of the 'bots around:

 Next to that, two larger robots were shooting baskets:


These toy robots were fun to watch: they can sit, stand, and walk on their own!

There were two or three excellent found-object artists at the Faire. Here's one of my favorite pieces:

A Klingon Bird of Prey! (I recognize the head as a tea ball. Your guess is as good as mine on the rest of it, though!)

 Then there was the adorable work of Robots Are Awesome:


This lovely lady was a fellow attendee, but she really stood out from the crowd:

I'm not sure if she's a steampunk fan or not, given her lack of gadgetry, but I do love that outfit!

Of course, it's not a Maker's Faire without a musical Tesla coil:

This was just a little one, but the purple arcs were mesmerizing, nonetheless. (And that purple balloon just happened to be floating on the opposite side of that banner - it's not actually touching the arcs.)

 For $3 you could buy a little pack of parts and solder your own blinking robot pin. SOLD!

The nice volunteer holding my pin for me was veeeery trusting. I also made a real mess of my solder: she had to fix it for me when my battery pack snapped off the second I finished. Heh.

Here's the finished pin:

 His eyes blinked red, but the battery died by the time we got home. Or maybe my solder just broke again. :D

Here's the most disturbing thing we saw at the Faire:

These animatronic fruit guys were singing, and the way their "faces" moved was both fascinating and reeeally creepy. Here, I grabbed a little video:

(Turn your sound down - it's kind of loud!)

At the back of the giant building behind a partition wall was "the dark side." In here almost all of the lights were off, and there were a few fun light displays around:

This is a large metal and plexiglass sculpture. The colored lights changed over time - quite pretty.

The droid builders were back here, too, along with some familiar droid faces:

I don't think I've seen this little guy before, though. AND I LOVE HIM.

 Chibi R2 unit? SQUEE!

Back in the lighted area, there were a few crazy-talented prop builders:


This is all by Jason of Fireblade Comics. He does a lot of custom work, and I love that he displayed several of his props alongside the items he'd made them from:

John and I talked weathering finishes with Jason for a long time, and now I have some new ideas to try!

And finally, here are two of my favorite art pieces :

I like how the heart is emerging from hot coals - and the "thinker" pose on the skeleton is pretty rad.

Both pieces are by Aleric Art, and are actually on sale at Etsy right now, if you're interested.

So that was the Orlando Mini Maker Faire! Hope you guys enjoyed visiting it vicariously through me. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the cat show - some of those cat show people are a leeetle bit scary, and I didn't want to chance it - so you'll just have to imagine me and John and our friends Scott & Missy tip-toeing down the aisles and peering longingly into all the cat houses while their owners glared at us suspiciously. Hee.

Oh, and Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans! Today I plan to practice some more painting finishes on my current craft project and then finish the 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle I've been working on for months. How 'bout you guys?

UPDATE: I've had a few of you comment on the robots in my first two pictures, and Katie K. was kind enough to send in some more information about this great program for kids and teens:

"After reading your post today about the makers fair, I simply HAD to write to tell you about the robots at the beginning of the post. As I intently scrolled down the page, I immediately recognized the bots in your pictures. Well, not those  ones specifically, but the program they're with. FIRST Robotics is an international competition that brings young people together in the name of, well.... robots. And geekery. FIRST has several programs for different age groups, starting at 5 years old or so.
In the first picture, with the smaller robots, is the FIRST Tech Challenge, and the second with the big one is FIRST Robotics Competition. But both of these are completely comprised of high school students, so those fabulous bots were built by kids 13 to 18 years old! I know more about the basket-ball shooting one, because that's the one I'm in, so I'll talk about it. Beginning in January, teams are given six weeks to design, build, code, and test a robot to complete a given task (given at the start of the build season). This past year it was a more complicated version of basketball. Teams are given a basic kit of parts, but are expected to make or buy anything else they need to make their robot run. Teams then compete at regional and (inter)national levels. So, yes, those robots (and their teams) belong at a Maker Fair.
I'll make a shameless plug here and invite you to tell any kids you know who are inclined toward making stuff to look up a team in their area. And teams can always use the help of adult mentors and monetary contributions. *nudge, nudge*"

Thanks so much, Katie!


  1. The lady in the cool black and white outfit? Not steampunk- she's a Pearly Queen!

  2. Um, if that dress is decorated the way I think it is (With BUTTONS!!!!!) I think she qualifies as steampunk. I am so stealing this idea- what a brilliant way to use all those white buttons everyone always loses!

  3. Thank you for all of the great pics!
    Where is the video of the singing fruit?

  4. I would love to watch creepy fruit sing, but I don't see the video... Am I missing where to click or is something up?

  5. I can't see the video even though I reloaded several times D:

    Chibi R2 is adorable.

  6. Happy Memorial Day! My family returns today, ending my glorious nobody-needs-anything-from-me vacation, so I intend to spend these last few sweet hours of freedom playing video games before I am descended upon by husband and three year old. Gosh I'll be glad to see them. Enjoy your craftiness!

  7. Am I missing something or did you forget to put in the video link? ;)

  8. No video?
    I'm so jealous, with all those robots I would have been in heaven.

  9. Ooo the maker faire looks like fun! (Where's the video? I wanna see the creepy singing fruit faces, hehe.)

    I've got lots of projects going right now but I don't have any real plans for today - just the standard cookout with family later. =)

    I will be making my niece's 4th bday cake next weekend. It's a fairy party so it include toadstool cupcakes.

  10. Wow, such a creative group of people! But, the video of the fruit dudes isn't showing up :( maybe it wasn't included in the post?

  11. Um. Jen? I don't see a video of the creepy fruit guys. Not sure if I'm sad or relieved about that....

    I love all these fun things you guys do! :)

  12. That looks like a lot of fun and I'm now wondering if they have one in CT or PA...anyhow, just to let you know, the video of the singing fruit did not get posted.

  13. Hi guys,

    Looks like the video didn't upload correctly. Bwoops. Should be all fixed now. -john

  14. Jen,

    The Klingon Bird of Prey's wings are from a brass butterfly. They came in a set of three and hung on the wall. I used to have them.

  15. looks awesome! I have always wondered about the mini maker faires. It looks like they are just as fun as the big ones! Also looks less crowded so you'd get to spend more time talking to the Makers.

  16. Long time reader, first time poster...
    We have a hairless cat. Her name is Piglet and she is exactly everything you imagine. She is soft and warm. She loves to cuddle with her humans and she is really friendly. She just turned 11 in April. She has her own Facebook page look for Piglet the Sphynx.

  17. Ooohh. Those first two pictures are FIRST robots from the high school competition. Very cool, and definitely worth playing around with, even if one is not on a team.

  18. Oh Aileen, you beat me to it! But in case a second endorsement is of any value - she IS a Pearlie Queen. Although it does seem she's steampunk'd it up some.

    I just recently discovered that there's a group of pearlies in Mary Poppins!

    Did you notice them? I just about squealed when I caught it, I think pearlies are so neat!

  19. You have no idea how excited it made me to see robots from F.I.R.S.T. competitions! The little ones are from Tech Challenge, while the larger ones are FRC (FIRST Robotics competition) 'bots. I participated in FIRST Robotics all four years of high school & it is fantastic!
    Definitely a fun (& geeky!) extra curricular & one that deserves more press than it seems to get!

  20. The Bird of Prey's body (square bit) is a heatsink used to cool electronics such as processors and amplifiers. They come in so many weird and wonderful shapes I imagine they'd be a goldmine to imaginative creative folks - even the ones that aren't you know actually made of gold!

  21. I live in orlando too, why didn't I know about this faire!

  22. Went to my 1st Makre Faire in NYC last year. Got to meet and see Sean & The Tiv (tornado chasing fame) - MOST EXCELLANT FUN!

    Cat shows, yep there are very, very scary people attending. As the owner of 2 Maine Coons, I too want to pet and coo over the furries but the "breeders" are far too weird and full of themselves...

  23. LOVE the pics! You and John sure have a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.

  24. The singing fruit would have been much better singing "Veggie Fruit Fruit" from Kitchen Kabaret. Just sayin'

  25. glad you had fun, but i have something completely different to share with you.
    the many voices of star wars ;)

    also, my husband's co-worker breeds hairless cats and said they are like a really soft, hairless part of you. like maybe the inside of your forearm.

  26. The singing pineapple has the exact same facial expressions as a really nasty woman who used to work for me. That takes creepy to a whole 'nother dimension!!

  27. Yes the Klingon Bird of Prey had wings that were from a butterfly, a tea ball for the head, parts from our old hot cold shower tap and yes a heat sink. You can see more pictures of it here including it as a work in progress before it was finished. Thanks for including my work on your blog and other great pictures from the show.
    Ken Swallow Art

  28. Thanks so much for posting these photos! I was stuck at my booth most of the day (still totally fun) and didn't get to explore the other "makers" as much as I would have liked. There were so many fun and friendly people there! I can't wait to go to another event like this.

    (There will be an "Idea Faire" at MOSI in Tampa on Nov. 17th & 18th so at least it's only six months away :)

    - Megan Lee

  29. I love the guy with the musical Tesla coil. he looks like someone's grandpa. If I had been there i would have spent ages asking him about it just so he knew someone cared...

  30. Highly doubt all of the exhibitors were glaring at you at the cat show... In fact- chances are, they were simply exhausted and listening for their rings to be called. While there are 'those' in both the dog fancy and the cat fancy ('those' being people who refuse to understand that spectators can often become future exhibitors and therefore should be treated with open arms)- they are actually in the minority. True- if you tried to pet a Persian after it's been groomed for a ring, you MIGHT have lost a limb, but still ;)

    And if you want to really meet friendly cat people- find the Savannah breed section ;) They are the friendliest group around!

  31. Sorry to hear you had a less-than-pleasant experience with the cat show exhibitors. I show my two Sphynx, and have always made time to be friendly to visitors who are curious about them. Before I started showing, I always found exhibitors to be friendly and informative when approached. Hopefully this was an isolated incident. can come pet my Sphynxies anytime! They feel sort of like warm suede, incredibly soft! Once you've petted them you can't stop!

  32. So cool you made it to a mini!

    I've heard they are just about the right size for really getting to talk/interact with the makers and do-ers. We're stuck (ha!) with the giant original, which has pretty much outgrown the venue. Very cool that so many people are interested, but kind of hard to do/see fun stuff anymore.

    Except! My husband and daughter got to meet Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame this year! My daughter even got an autograph. She was super excited and star-struck. :)

  33. I like cat shows too, but seriously? the people? And they say geeks are strange.

    Totally love the maker fair - what a great idea.

  34. Wow, I'm flattered that you posted a picture of my Pearly Queen costume, and it's such a good photo! I'm calling it a Neo-Victorian more than Steampunk since it doesn't have the common Steampunk elements YET. :D

  35. If you really want a chance to pet a Sphynx cat, a friend of mine is about to move to Orlando and she has one. I'm sure she could set something up for you, haha. You can find her on Facebook under the business name Photokisses.

  36. I have a Devon Rex! One step between "normal kitty" and sphinx! Best kitties ever!! Unfortunately/fortunately my Addy is a rescue and had a rough start so she's far from pretty-but-I get the best of both worlds! Devon soft fur on her back/sides totally nekked belly!!! She's also missing an eye and has a weight prob (don't we all)-seriously as soon as we find the ugly cat contest we are signing up. She's an absolute DOLL personality wise, but in the looks dept? She's a "kitty wreck"! I wish I could send a pic! Maybe on fb....

  37. This made me super duper happy!! Partly because I built and ran a robot for that first course cause I'm in FTC. So yeah. Minor geekery <3

  38. I've been owned by two Cornish Rexes... one was fluffy, the other felt like the top of a baby's head. They give off an incredible amount of heat and are softer than any cat has a right to be. Love them and their personalities. They really want to be with people and are very affectionate. My boy Pootsie lived to be 21!


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