At the New York Science Center yesterday we visited the first annual MakerFaire, a celebration of the Do-It-Yourself movement.
At the Smooth-On sculpture products booth, I checked out a character made from “Dragon-Skin” silicon by Lone Wolf Effects.
If you sign the legal waiver, you can strap in and ride the Jet Ponies or Thundersteeds, a pulse-jet powered carousel. There was also a big-wheeled chariot and a motorcycle using the deafening fire-spitting jet technology.
There were bicycles dressed up as fish, as well as innovative recumbents and tricycles. One maker constructed giant beetle-like creatures using old inner tubes and used truck parts.
For the computer geeks, there were radio control robots, 3D printers, and tutorials on soldering simple circuits.
A range of traditional hand skills and child crafts were well represented. People of all ages were invited to learn knitting and crocheting with expert help. We saw a full size car covered in green fuzzy knitting.
The coalition of the handmade world embraces a wide range of people, from steampunk guys with hand-wound pocket watches, to goth princesses in gold spandex bikinis, to families led along by their awestruck grade schoolers.
A few large corporate players had a presence, such as Ford Motors, showing off its brand new 25 mpg Taurus Assault Vehicle. Martha Stewart’s organization had a slick living room set decorated with fake bones that you could make out of paper maché for Halloween.
At the close of the day, Make magazine editor and BoingBoing founder Mark Frauenfelder gave an illustrated talk on his personal odyssey to raise chickens and vegetables, carve wooden spoons, and build guitars out of cigar boxes, an experience he chronicles in his book “Made By Hand.”
It’s a striking irony that the faire takes place at the epicenter of both the 1939 and the 1964 World’s Fairs. You can look up from the tents and booths to the tawdry hulks of yesterday’s fading vision of the future, a vision that included a prosperous industrial America with gleaming flying cars and moving sidewalks. If Maker Faire is a glimpse of the future, it will be more like a computerized medieval marketplace.
The faire continues through today at the New York Hall of Science,
Maker Faire New York website
New York Hall of Science
Mark F’s book “Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World.”
YouTube video of Jet Ponies or Thundersteeds
Smooth-on sculpting products