Author Archives: Lish Dorset

Meet the Maker: Dara Dotz, Field Ready


What does Field Ready do?
The purpose of the organization is to provide disaster relief and meet humanitarian needs by transforming logistical supply chains. We achieve this purpose through technology and engaging people in new ways. In practical terms, this means we will send volunteers with technical knowledge to areas of need who will then use advanced manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printers, to meet need where it is found.

How does Field Ready utilize technology?
Additive manufacturing, particularly 3D printers, is especially important to our approach given its flexibility and potential as this technology matures. In answering this question, two points are particularly important. First, Field Ready approach is informed not just by what technology is available today but what is possible in the years to come. The concept of “exponential technology” indicates that the potential astounding. Second, people will remain at the center of our approach with specific technologies remaining tools in addressing specific problems and challenges.

What makes Field Ready unique?
A key element of our approach involves training others and exposing people to localized problem-solving, human-centered design and “making” in ways that they can immediately benefit. Additionally, Field Ready’s approach is specifically designed to work in areas where local markets have been shut down or are otherwise inoperable. Where conditions are improved, Field Ready focuses on items that are not readily available on the local market.

Meet the Maker: Cirque Mechanics


What is Cirque Mechanics?
We are a company that blends circus, acrobatics, and dance with mechanical apparatus that allow the artists to demonstrate circus in new ways.

What inspired the creation of Cirque Mechanics?
I had been working for Cirque du Soleil for a number of years performing circus in a fantasy setting. I (Chris Lashua, founder) was looking or a way to display “HOW” things are done. We believe that showing off the mechanics, opening up the clock face and showing off the lifting mechanism, or how something is moved across the stage can be magical.

Why combine mechanics and circus performance?
For us it is about mechanizing the circus. We are looking at ways to perform old circus acts in new ways. We try to find ways to use the movement of circus to power our devices or for our devices to complement and showcase our circus acts.

What difficulties did you face in combining circus performance and mechanics?
The machines that help us to show off the circus often require that our artists compromise some of their technique. Our belief is that while a juggler may be unable to complete his most difficult “trick”, while 10’ in the air, the overall performance is brand new and the image, in this case, of juggling in the air offsets the loss of that one trick.

What do you hope the audience gains from the experience?
At the heart of Cirque Mechanics is the belief that the magic lies in the interactions between mechanical apparatus, or scenic element, and artists. We seek to explore these relationships and hope that our audiences take away an appreciation for the physics of the performance, that they appreciate not only that an artist has amazing skills but that their performance is connected, supported, enhanced by the mechanical world.

What trends do you see in performance right now?
Collaboration is the key. It is for this reason that we have so much ensemble work in our two productions. It takes a commitment by all involved for this to work. Teamwork is something that happens naturally if the environment is designed to be collaborative right from the outset. We encourage this collaboration in our show research and development. When all are invested in the process teamwork just happens.

Meet the Maker: Miguel Valenzuea, PancakeBot


Does PancakeBot look familiar? It should! Migeul and his invention were featured on the first season of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. You can see his segment below.

What is PancakeBot?
PancakeBot™ is the world’s first pancake printer. It was created as a way to inspire kids and others to learn about programming, technology, robotics and food creation.

What was the inspiration for your project?
It was originally inspired in the late fall of 2010 while I was reading an article written in Make Magazine called Blockheads by Bob Parks that described prototyping with LEGO. While reading the magazine, Lily, my 3 1/2 year old daughter asked what I was doing. I responded that I was reading about a guy named Adrian Marshall from the UK that built a Pancake Stamping Machine out of LEGO for a prototype. I mumbled something else and Lily turned to her sister Maia, who was 1 1/2, at the time and with her eyes opened wide, exclaimed to Maia, “Papa’s going to build a ‘pamcake’ machine out of LEGO.” Maia did a little dance and thus PancakeBot was born.

How does it work?
It uses CNC technology to draw pancakes in any shape or form directly onto the griddle. Using timing, dispensing and heat, it creates different shades of color by caramelizing the sugar in the batter. The patent pending system emulates a ketchup bottle to control dispensing and flow of the batter.

What was the process of designing PancakeBot?
The PancakeBot started off as a LEGO creation and took over 6 months to develop with over 13 different iterations. After taking it to many different Maker Faires around the world, interest grew and I developed an acrylic version that drew more precise pancakes as well as using custom software to draw and design pancakes.
In the fall of 2014, I partnered with StoreBound to bring PancakeBot to Market and in March of 2016 raised over 460K on Kickstarter.

Are there plans to expand into other types of foods?
There are plans to integrate other types of pastries and foods into PancakeBot and we hope to be revealing those soon.

What’s your favorite design?
The most favorite and timeless pancake is of the Eiffel Tower. It’s an iconic landmark that has a complex design but yields a wonderful pancake.

What trends do you see in food technology?
I see PancakeBot as a bridge between technology, food and making as well as a stepping stone to inspire kids and adults alike to get into 3D printing. As more people get interested in combining food with technology, I hope to see improvements in distribution systems, packaging and creation of products and projects that will delight the eye as well as the palate.

Meet the Maker: Handmade Toledo


We’re excited to welcome Handmade Toledo to this year’s Maker Faire Detroit as curators of our craft sales vendors.

Tell us about Handmade Toledo.
Since 2012, Handmade Toledo has been bringing you the Maker’s Mart indie craft fair in April in November, along with mini marts and pop-up shops in and around the Toledo area. Two years into our DIY adventure, we decided to put on our big-kid britches and settle into a brick and mortar at 1717 Adams Street in the beautiful Uptown District in Toledo, Ohio. 1717 Adams Street now houses the Handmade Toledo Maker Shoppe featuring more than 100 local and regional handmade artists, a workshop space for all different types of classes, artist studio spaces and event space.

How do you discover new crafters?
We put calls out for artists out on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and local papers. A lot of time it’s from word of mouth from other makers. We love to share the love. We can’t tell you how many great shows, shops, festivals, faires, and markets we’ve found out about from other makers talking about having great experiences. The maker community is pretty great with that.

What do you look for in a maker?
Craftsmanship, originality, use of materials, creativity and innovation.

What trends in DIY do you see right now?
Fiber arts have been making a big comeback it seems. Lots of crocheting, knitting, weaving, macramé, and sewing. We’ve also been seeing a lot more industrious materials being used like metals, leather, and glass. And we love ALL of it!

Handmade Toledo Craft Vendors – Maker Faire Detroit 2015

Earthenwood Studio Ceramics: Handcrafted functional ceramic wares such as plates, bowls, and mugs, painted in durable colorful glazes with geeky and pop culture themes.

Joseph Mazzola: Up-scaled/repurposed vintage electric fans and cast iron speakers enclosures into beautiful table lamps using exposed filiment Edison bulbs and painted vivid eye-catching colors. Also handmake black iron pipe lamps.

Pretty Bookish: Pretty Bookish began with a box of old books. An idea was born to give these discarded books a new life by tuning them into pretty, handmade, repurposed products for people who are passionate book lovers and readers. Pretty Bookish offers playful tributes to the adventures the reader has had, the emotions they felt, and the characters that they fell in love with while lost in their favorite book. Handmade products include jewelry, keychains, typography, paper flower vases and terrariums.

Mary’s Monstrosities: I am using the centuries old Venetian mask-making technique of pressed paper mache to create monster and horror themed masquerade masks. I start by making an original clay sculpture, then take a plaster mold, then use 100% recycled hand made paper to press in the mold with a waterproof binding to create the mask. The finished product is extremely light and durable, and a very odd conversation piece.

Circuit Breaker Labs: Handmade jewelry and accessories made from recycled circuit boards and resin.

Rebel Nell: Rebel Nell creates defiant jewelry with a purpose. Our mission is to employ disadvantaged women in Detroit, to educate them on financial management, life wellness, and business, and to empower them to successfully transition to an independent life. Our jewelry starts with graffiti that we collect after it has fallen due to the weight of many layers of paint, and damage from Mother Nature. These scrap pieces of graffiti are then turned into beautiful works of wearable art. Each piece is unique.

Mike Roll: Mike Roll is a comic artist and illustrator from the Detroit, Michigan area. He’s best known for his adorably-gruesome “Apooka” series of children friendly comics chronicling the life (death?) of an endearing, cute-as-a-button zombie child. He is also illustrator of several children’s books including; Karli Meadows Makes Friends and The Trains of Christmas.

Algae Skateboards: crafted by me, as the sole creator and proprietor. Every board is pressed using the best wood available to me, then hand-shaped and designed. The graphic image is wood-burned and painted, and the whole board is stained and finished. The boards are both art pieces and well-made skateboards designed to be ridden and abused.

JKM Soy Candles: Candles hand-poured in small batches using 100% soybean wax and unique scent combinations using fragrance and essential oils. The candles are made in mason jars and upcycled tin cans. I also make hand-dipped incense and soy melts.

Cool Critters: I create weird, handmade, stuffed animals called Cool Critters. They can be plush monsters, extraterrestrial softies, unsettling couch companions, pet sacrifices or best friends. They are 100% handmade in Ypsilanti, Michigan and are all one of a kind.

Detroit Manufacturing brand clothing: Exhibit and sales of original design, Detroit-themed apparel, accessories, pet/baby items, and home decor items.

Strancar Studios: Sales of handmade glass objects. Functional and decorative objects in an intentionally limited color palette.

Jen Talley Art & Design: Original art including greeting cards and prints printed by the artist as well as handmade magnets and buttons.

From J.Loo To You: Goods created with (mostly) second-hand and vintage materials. A variety of goods include jewelry, accessories (for humans and pets), terrariums & planters, and home decor. Home goods feature a lot of hand embroidery, sewing, and painting, reflecting the artist’s aesthetic of kitschy meets cartoons with a heavy influence of pop culture.

Patchcoat by Carrie: Old sweaters, suits, dresses, etc., that are cut apart and then made into “Patchcoats.” These are one-of-a-kind coats/dresses/tunics.

Oh Sew Betty!: Oh Sew Betty! specializes in custom retro, rockabilly, pinup and bombshell dresses, pillows and bags.

Paintings by Jason Gibner: Jason Gibner brings all of your pop culture obsessions to life via handmade, original and totally awesome paintings inspired by comics, sci fi & everything that is awesome. If you feel like your bedroom wall is incomplete without that portrait of BB-8, Thanos, Nien Nunb, R5-D4, or a shirtless Abe Lincoln, be sure to seek out Jason Gibner.

Krmbal: Krmbal is dedicated to being eco-conscious and increasing awareness about sustainability, particularly in textiles and clothing. I create original designs and apply them to 100% organic cotton apparel, discuss different types of textiles and create up-cycled items from cast off textile scraps, as well as art prints, sketchbooks, etc. I’ll be showing how to make up-cycled no-sew textile coaster or place mat, bookmarks (easy sewing), cat toys (sewing & no-sew) & a fabric scrap swap.

Meet the Maker: Mat Roll, Astroliner


Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Michigan-grew up around the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area. I traveled a lot because of my parents’ carnival business, and have always been interest and inspired by space travel.

What is Astroliner?
The Astroliner is flight simulator. It’s over 40 feet long and can carry up to 25 passengers.

What inspired Astroliner?
The Astroliner was inspired by the Saturn V rocket. It was originally built by Wisdom Manufacturing in the early 1970s.

How does it work?
The Astroliner runs 220v power and is driven by a hydraulic system. The inside of the ship is driven on pneumatic systems.

How long did it take to complete?
About nine months, after pulling it out of Massachusetts.

What was the biggest challenge in making it?
Time always seemed to be against us. We started rebuilding in the cold days of January. Our original goal was to rebuild the ship by the Fourth of July. Thanks to my dad’s knowledge of the ship, the rebuild was somewhat easy- just time consuming.

What are you most looking forward to at Maker Faire Detroit this year?
I can’t wait to see some cool inventions and DIYs for the home.

2015 Maker Manual Now Available

The 2015 Maker Manual is now online. You can find a copy here. All makers are responsible for reading this document and being familiar with its contents. Be sure to carefully review the new Maker Check-In information as there are changes for 2015.

What’s New at Maker Faire Detroit 2015


Maker Faire Detroit returns to The Henry Ford for its 6th year on July 25-26 with a new location for the outdoor midway, new projects on display and more than 70 new makers debuting in Detroit for the first time.

New this year, visitors will see a three-story Hot Wheels ramp created by local engineer Matt West and his son Blade that is currently going for the world record for the largest Hot Wheels ramp. Visitors will also have the opportunity to get inside a 50-foot motion simulator rocket named the Astroliner. For music fans, Les Paul Sound Experience, a 53’ interactive state-of-the-art mobile experience offers hands-on interactives celebrating the great Les Paul. Also making their Maker Faire debut is Cirque Mechanics. Inspired by the modern circus, Cirque Mechanics is known for its unique approach to performance, inspiring storytelling and innovative mechanical staging through acrobatics and a bit of clowning around. In addition to new makers, Handmade Toledo has signed on to present the handmade arts and crafts portion of this year’s faire.

Fans of the Emmy-winning CBS series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation will have the chance to see some of the show’s featured innovators at Maker Faire Detroit including Liter of Light, Medical MacGyver, PancakeBot and Solar Roadways. Other special guests include celebrity modder Ben Heck who will be hosting a special display and speaking with makers for an episode of The Ben Heck Show, author and craft king Mark Montano joining the Great Lakes Bead Workers Guild for hands-on demonstrations and designer and innovative humanitarian Dara Dotz doing a special presentation on Field Ready, an organization focusing in on on-demand manufacturing in post-Disaster Zones.

For the sixth annual event, The Henry Ford will be moving the faire’s outdoor midway location from the Henry Ford Museum parking lot to the Lovett Hall lot located behind the museum. The new location provides guests more convenient parking opportunities and easier access to makers located both inside and outside the museum. A shuttle service sponsored by the University of Michigan-Dearborn will also be available at its Fairlane campus located at 1900 Hubbard Dr. in Dearborn.

We’ll be sharing more updates and news in the weeks to come leading up to the faire. See you all soon at Maker Faire Detroit!

Help Make Maker Faire Detroit Incredible

Visiting Maker Faire Detroit is one of the best things to do in your free time. In fact, one of the few things that I can imagine that’s better than visiting Maker Faire Detroit is being a part of Maker Faire Detroit. We need people to make Maker Faire awesome.

You could be hanging out for a few hours with some of the makers from The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on CBS like the creator of the PancakeBot.

Or you might help the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild and their special guest Mark Montano, author, TV Host, and Crafty King.


Perhaps you like to work with your hands. You could teach people to solder, build a rocket, or create melted crayon art. You could even help them run a Hot Wheel car on a large looping track.

By helping out in one of these areas, you’ll get receive a Maker Faire Detroit t-shirt and a free one-day ticket to Maker Faire.

You can sign up to volunteer here and choose what you will do to make Detroit Maker Faire 2015 unforgettable.

Report from the Field: Maker Faire Bay Area 2015


The weekend of May 15-17, 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of Maker Faire Bay Area, a flagship festival of the Make movement. I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the Faire in order to speak about The Henry Ford’s recent acquisition of the Apple 1 computer. On Saturday morning, as I climbed the Make:Live Stage to present images and stories gathered from the auction, its arrival to the museum, and video of the computer operating—I was happy (okay, I’ll admit, even a little nervous)—to see a crowd of over 100 enthusiastic people gathered. The appeal of the Apple 1 and the museum’s excitement about its acquisition was well-understood by the extremely attentive audience.

After the presentation, I had time to take in a little of the festival, and am happy to report that the Maker movement is alive and very well in the world. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the weekend: Continue reading

Call to Makers Deadline Extended

Thanks to all the makers who have submitted applications so far for Maker Faire Detroit 2015.  We are extending the deadline to June 8, 2015. If you have any questions about participating at Maker Faire Detroit, please email the team at