Category Archives: Meet the Makers

Meet the Maker: Mike Lica and The Great Lakes Garrison


Regulars at Maker Faire Detroit and Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday, The Great Lakes Garrison will be joining us this weekend for our last Tinker. Hack. Invent Saturday of 2014. Learn more about what inspires Mike Lica as a maker.

Tell us about the Great Lakes Garrison.
The Great Lakes Garrison is the Michigan Garrison of the 501st Legion the world’s definitive costuming organization. We are also knows as the Bad guys who do good. The 501st Legion represents the bad guy costumes from the the Star Wars universe. We are often joined by the “Good Guys” or the Rebel Legion, and various droids from the R2-D2 builders club and the Great Lakes Droids. The 501st Legion has costumers in almost every country in the world. We have over 100 active members in Michigan alone. The club members make appearances all over the State. Anything from Fundraisers to Sporting events, and Comic Conventions.

What is the inspiration for your current projects?
We are always coming up with something new. A new costume, a new droid, or prop etc. Each member has their own reasons for building their project. Some of us build them to take to hospital visits at various children’s hospitals. Some like to attend Comic Conventions or sporting events. Everyone has their own inspiration for the costume or prop they build. We all grew up watching Star Wars movies and to actually become Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a Stormtrooper or an X Wing Pilot is a dream come true for some. Our costumes go through a pretty strict approval process and provide us with a challenge. They must be screen accurate. Meaning the costume must look like the costume in the movie.


With Star Wars: Episode 7 less than a year away, there’s a local droid builder, Kurt Zimmerman, who is building a new droid called BB-8 who was only seen for a couple seconds in the new Force Awakens trailer. This is the first fan-made droid of it’s kind. Kurt also built a C1-10P droid named “Chopper,” the new droid seen in Disney’s Star Wars Rebels. Recently we were asked by Lucasfilm to appear at the Star Wars Rebels premiere in Troy and Chopper was there along with several members of the 501st and Rebel Legion. Both of these droids including R2-D2 and R5-D4 will be at the Tinker, Hack, invent event on December 27.

How long does it take to make your creations?
Each project is different. Time and money is usually what determines how long a project will take. Some projects can get done pretty fast especially if a deadline for an appearance is approaching and that character is needed. Some of our members take their time and have been working on the same projects for years.

As a Maker, what inspires you?
I am inspired by the creativity of the people that I am surrounded by. I built a Stormtrooper costume thinking that would be the only costume I ever needed but I was wrong….. and was bit by the costume, prop building bug. I will usually start a new project while I am still working on a current one. It’s a continuous cycle. Everyone in the clubs bring something to the table. Each member of our group brings a certain skill to the table. Every day I get messages either asking for advice or someone giving me advice on the next project. We get together from time to time and work on projects together.

What are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday?
Tinker.Hack.Invent.Saturday is one of our favorite events. Throughout the year I have a lot of friends wanting to see what we are working on, looking for tips, or wanting to join the Legion. I tell them to come to this event because we will have everything on display from Stormtrooper Armor to R2-D2. You can take a photo with the droids or characters or even see what the inside of R2-D2 looks like. We look forward to talking with the guests and hopefully recruiting new members.

Meet the Maker: Rob Miller

face off rob

Meet Rob Miller. He’s from Monroe, Mich., a member of the Great Lakes Garrison and a contestant on FaceOff. Rob is joining our Tinker.Hack.Invent Saturday activities this weekend and we’re excited to have him. Learn more about Ron and what inspires him as a maker.

Tell us about the your experience on Face Off.
I have always been a fan of the show since season 1. Each and every season many friends and family members hounded me to try out, but I never did. I never thought I of all people would have a chance to make it for an interview let alone be on the show. Seasons 2-6 came and went, and one night during season 6 my family and I were watching the show. My boys, Alex – age 14 and Zach age 12 have always told me I should try out for the show, and this time when they told me, I began thinking perhaps I should try out. What pushed me more than anything to go for it wasn’t just my boys, but my daughter Riley. Riley is 9 years old and was born with Down syndrome. Riley was watching the show with us as we all do, and during one of the episodes, she ran into my workroom and brought out a mask I made, and ran up to the TV and pointed to my mask I made, and then to the TV. She then said, “Daddy, you do it!” That is what started it all – my children. They have sat with me over the years sculpting with play doh, clay, painting, drawing, airbrushing, coloring, anything art related. They made me realize that I do have what it takes. So, I applied. I received a phone call 3 weeks after I applied and the next thing I knew I was on my way to begin filming the show! My experience on Face Off was amazing to say the least! I met so many talented artists who created things in so many different ways. We all learned different/new techniques in mold making, painting, fabrication, application. We all helped, taught and supported each other. In simple terms I honestly have to say it was a Special Effects boot camp! It blew my mind to have everything that I needed at my fingertips! To be able to try new products, techniques and to have my work critiqued by leaders in the Special Effects industry was truly an honor. I had to work under some tight time constraints. My days consisted of working anywhere from 12-20 hours each day. I was constantly on the go! I was the “Dad” of the group, as I was the oldest contestant and I truly was amazed at how a show can put 15 complete strangers together, take away all sources of outside media, and those 15 people truly become a family!

What is the inspiration for your current projects?
I often try to keep up with what is popular. Currently, Zombies, horror, Sci-Fi, and Video Game Characters are many areas that are really trending at the moment. I conduct a lot of research on what I want to create. I have to give each of my creations a back story, give them character, a purpose.

How long does it take to make your creations?
There isn’t no real set time. It all depends on what I’m making. A fabrication suit could take anywhere from days, months or even years. Sculptures are the same way. When I was on the show, I had to have my creations completed within 3 days. As for how long it takes to make my creations .. it also depends on the deadline I’m given by my clients.

As a Maker, what inspires you?
Technology, Industry, Science Fiction, Horror. I try to incorporate a plethora of genres into my work. I’m inspired by other artists work, and I visit a lot of museums, I often ask people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram what they would like to see me create, and if they suggest something that appeals to me, I make it.

What are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s Tinker. Hack. Invent. Saturday?
I actually am looking forward to speaking to everyone that stops by. To be able to inspire a young artist to never give up on their dreams, and to answer any questions that someone may have will be an honor in itself. I love to see the reactions of the public when they view my work. I am very honored to be able to attend this event and to bring the things I have created for everyone to enjoy. It’s going to be a great Saturday!

Ben’s Encore Returns to Maker Faire Detroit

Premier event photography by KMS Photography

It’s that time of year again – time for Maker Faire Detroit. Once again the event will showcase more than 400 makers. One particular group, Ben’s Encore, promises to have a special appeal to young, aspiring musicians.

Ben’s Encore strives to provide opportunities for aspiring musicians and music education in Detroit and its surrounding areas. The organization started a few years ago, as a tribute to Ben Borowiak of Detroit, who passed away due to complications from epilepsy that developed after being hit by a drunk driver. Ben wore many hats; though professionally an accountant, he was known by his family and friends as a multi-talented musician and philanthropist. Continue reading

Meet the Makers: DIYpsi


We’re pleased to have the team behind DIYpsi curate another craft fair within Maker Faire Detroit this year. This is the group’s second year curating our craft sales vendors and there’s a great group coming in to show off their goods to our guests.

We asked DIYpsi members Cre Fuller, Marcy Davy Haywood and Sherri Green what inspires them and what they’re looking forward to at this year’s fair. And we’ve got the lineup for their crafters, too. Continue reading

Meet the Maker: Gabrielle Farina


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your duct tape prom attire.
Ryan and I are both students at the University of Michigan, where he’ll be a freshman and I’ll be a sophomore this fall. We knew we wanted to enter Duck brand’s Stuck at Prom contest as soon as we heard about it, because we knew it would make for a fun and memorable prom. As we discovered about halfway through the process of making our outfits, our 1920’s theme matched perfectly with the prom’s Great Gatsby theme! Our outfits won third place in the Stuck at Prom contest. Continue reading

Meet the Makers: Stacy Burdette and Hacker Gals


Tell us a little bit about yourself and The Hacker Gals.
I graduated from the MBA program at Western Michigan University (WMU) a year ago and have been excited to be a part of the startup community in Kalamazoo since then. In the fall/spring of 2013-14 I continued in school under the Rhetoric and Writing Studies program and also was accepted into the WMU Starting Gate student business accelerator.

Hacker Gals is a community group of women who meet in a common space to work on projects. Each of the Gals contributes to the resources of the community through sharing knowledge and teaching classes. We have been able to utilize the WMU Starting Gate space for the meetups and I have access through August 2014. The projects we work on include writing a book, building a robot, job searching, learning to crochet, and making old T-shirts into a trivet, coaster or rug. Continue reading

Meet the Maker: Bubba Ayoub


Tell us a little bit about yourself and Close Encounters of the Synth Kind.
My name is Bubba Ayoub. I’m an engineering student, voracious consumer of media, amateur historian, a student blogger for the Bob Moog Foundationshameless Sriracha over user, and I play guitar and modular synthesizer in ThreeHives and solo as Juggable Offense. Close Encounters of the Synth Kind is a celebration of all things synth, with a focus on modern day modular systems that encompass all the major developments in the last 50 years of synthesis. Continue reading

A Passion for Wheels


We’re so pleased to welcome Siemens PLM Solid Edge software to The Henry Ford as a sponsor of OnMaking and Maker Faire Detroit 2014. Crazy Cart creator Ali Kermani will be on hand to share his innovation story. Learn a little bit more about his journey below.

Ali - HeadshotFrom big wheels to business school, Ali Kermani, Product Designer and Brand Manager, at Razor USA, and former professional skateboarder, has a passion for wheels and having fun that has driven him to achieve great success. Ali recently delivered a keynote speech at Solid Edge University 2014, in which he shared his journey from young high school student and skateboarder working as a “product tester” and member of Team Razor to his most recent accomplishment at the company: Introduction of the Crazy Cart. This past February 2014, one day before Toys R Us presented Razor with their 2013 Vendor of the Year award, the Toy Industry Association awarded the Crazy Cart a much sought after Toy of The Year award (T.O.T.Y.), naming it the 2014 Outdoor Toy of the Year.

Meet Ali Kermani in person at Maker Faire Detroit, on Saturday, July 26th at 1:30 p.m., where he’ll share his inspiring story, a story which will most certainly resonate with makers far and wide. Continue reading

Meet the Maker: Inventables

Easel and Shapeoko - No Logo

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Inventables.
Inventables is a small startup company in Chicago. We sell all the tools and materials you need to make pretty much anything, including digital manufacturing tools like 3D printing and 3D carving, and laser cutting.

What was the inspiration for the Shapeoko 3D Carving Machine?
The Shapeoko 3D Carving machine was created by Edward Ford, who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. He wanted a DIY, affordable carving machine for his home and figured that other people did too. The response was immediate and very enthusiastic. Edward joined forces with Inventables to bring Shapeoko to a wider audience and has been selling the kits since 2012.

How long did it take to create your project?
Shapeoko was created in 2011, and version 2 was released in 2013. We released the companion Easel software in March of 2014, to make it easier for anyone to get started making their own ideas out of real materials.

As a maker, what inspires you?
Everyone on the Inventables team is a maker, and we all come at it from different angles. Some like to make jewelry, others build musical instruments and electronics, some build skateboards and go-carts and miniature rollercoasters. We’re constantly tinkering in the workshop and helping each other with our ideas.

What are you most looking forward to at Maker Faire Detroit this year?
We’re really looking forward to letting people try their own hand at 3D carving! We’ll be running hands-on demos all weekend to let people make their own bottle openers out of wood and aluminum. And also we’re fielding our own go-kart in the power wheels racing series.

Meet the Maker: Kidpreneur®

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and Kidpreneur Entrepreneurship.
Thanh Tran is a serial entrepreneur who founded Kidpreneur®, two software companies and D-NewTech, an organization which aim to inspire Detroit’s startup growth. The idea for Kidprenuer® came about when he realized there were not enough opportunities available for young children to learn about entrepreneurship and new technologies; especially computer programming. He believes that starting young could build a life-long interest and creates future job creators.

kidpreneur_logo3Kidpreneur® teaches kids aged 13 and under about entrepreneurship and the latest technology including coding, app development, game design, web development, robotics programming and more. The goal is to educate kids about technology and how they can build businesses using the technology they like. Continue reading