Category Archives: Meet the Makers

Meet the Maker: Maker Works

The Nerdy Derby in action at Maker Works.

The Nerdy Derby in action at Maker Works.

What is Maker Works doing at the Maker Faire Detroit this year?
14410101780_af9e842617_oMaker Works, a makerspace in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been at every Maker Faire Detroit so far, and we wouldn’t miss it! In years past we’ve helped with the Learn to Solder activity and demonstrated various tools from our shop. But we’re always on the lookout for fun, new things to bring. This year we’re excited about bringing the Nerdy Derby to Maker Faire Detroit. We’ll have a 30-foot long, three-lane track for racing small cars down, cars that visitors will make and decorate themselves right in our exhibit space. “No rules.” Think the Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby meets Mad Max (and minus the explosions, we hope).

Every clamp in the Maker Works wood shop was put to work getting the Nerdy Derby ready for last month's Open House at the shop.

Every clamp in the Maker Works wood shop was put to work getting the Nerdy Derby ready for last month’s Open House at the shop.

Why is participating in Maker Faire Detroit important?
Maker Faires are important because they expose visitors, especially kids, to the fun and power of STEAM–Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Maker Faires, museums, maker meet-ups, and makerspaces all provide opportunities for kids to learn about the world and how they can have an effect by making. They may start off making things to address their own specific wants and needs, but it’s not far from there to figuring out how to meet the wants and needs of others (perhaps for profit–a business!–or to make the world a better place). Maker Faires in particular are extraordinarily inspiring. The creator of that two-story bike over there? She’s not a professional bike builder, just someone who learned to weld and wanted to make something cool. The tiny satellite next to her? Built by amateurs exciting about the possibility of launching their creation into space. One of the best messages of Maker Faire Detroit for us is, “You can make cool things too.”

What do you find most inspiring about Maker Faire Detroit?
The creations of younger people, and the acceptance and celebration of their creativity among the visitors. It really is an appreciative crowd for a young maker to exhibit or demonstrate their creation.

Why We Go to Maker Faire

Coke and Mentos Guys at Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford - Courtesy of The Henry Ford

We missed the very first Maker Faire in San Francisco in 2006, but we’ve been going to as many Maker Faires as possible since 2007 – big ones like Detroit, San Francisco, and New York, and small ones like the Lewiston/Auburn Mini-Maker Faire near our home base in Buckfield, Maine.

Why do we go?

Maker Faires are a fabulous mix of creativity, home-brewed engineering, old-school crafts, and new-school robotics, not to mention Arduino hackers, paper airplane gurus, yarn bombers, 3-D printers, and Star Wars fans.

And every time it’s new.

Every time, we come home from Maker Faire full of new ideas and new inspirations. And the EepyBird laboratory is now home to an amazing three-foot-tall, glowing, enameled, steel jellyfish sculpture, a set of 800 plastic Strawbee drinking straw construction connectors, and a small elephant sculpture made from an expertly-bent, but otherwise unbroken and ordinary, wire coat hanger. Each was acquired at a different Maker Faire – because Fritz couldn’t live without them.

We go to Maker Faire not only to see surprising things like those, but to meet and talk to the people who create them. Maker Faire is amazing for the collection of cool, fun, and fascinating inventions people bring to show, but to us, the most important part, the real power of every Maker Faire and of the global Maker Movement, is the openness the Makers bring to the event. It’s not so much about, ”Look at the cool stuff I made!” as it is about, “Here’s the cool stuff I made – and here’s how you can make one, too!” That attitude makes Maker Faire one of our favorite places to be. Ever.

So we’ll see you at Maker Faire Detroit! Come see us drop 500 Mentos into 100 bottles of Coke to create huge geysers, all set to music, right in front of the Henry Ford Museum.

And you definitely should make your own Coke & Mentos geysers, too! You’ll find complete instructions right here.

EepyBird will be performing at Maker Faire Detroit on Saturday and Sunday, July 26th and 27th, at 4pm each day.

By Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe, EepyBird, AKA, the Coke & Mentos guys.

Tinker, Hack, and Invent with… 501st Great Lakes Garrison

4. R2 under const.

For our final Tinker, Hack, Invent Saturday of 2013 (can you believe it?!) our friends from the 501st Great Lakes Garrison will be patrolling Henry Ford Museum. But don’t worry! The good guys from the Rebel Legion will be there, too! Learn more about the group and what they’ll be bringing to the museum.


What will you be doing during this week’s Tinker, Hack, Invent, Saturday?
We’ll be displaying the Droids, costumes and props that we’ve made. We’ll have costumers walking around the museum throughout the day. You can expect to see Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Jedi knights, R2-D2, Tusken Raiders, Jawa’s and a Droid Factory full of droid parts similiar to what you might find in a Sandcrawler. Also blasters, Light Sabers and much much more. All built by hand by members of the 501st Legion, Rebel legion and R2 Builders club.


What are some of the favorite DIY activities among your fellow Star Wars enthusiasts?
We meet periodically as a group and have “Armor Parties”. An Armor party is just a bunch of us getting together and putting our resources together to build a costume or prop. We have members with various backgrounds. Some are good at vacuum forming, sculpting, making resin parts etc. while others are good at electronics, and machining. Some of us are just good at assembly and ideas.

3. R2 under const.

What other projects are you working on these days?
There’s always something in the works. We currently don’t have protocol droid (C3PO) in the area, so I’ve started on this. It’s an expensive project if done right so it will be a while before he’s completed. You might see some of his parts lying around in the Jawa junk yard this year. And there’s always a secret project or two in the works :)

What’s one making tool you can’t live without?
Dremel tool. I’ve used it on every costume and droid that I’ve built.

What did you enjoy most about Maker Faire Detroit this year?
The guests. We spend most of the day answering questions and taking photos. There’s something about the attendees of Maker Faire that isn’t like any other event we do. Maker Faire attendees are really interested how things are put together, how we did it, and this is our chance to pull R2’s dome off and show them what’s inside.

Tinker, Hack and Invent with Ben’s Encore

Ben's Encore

This weekend we’re pleased to present an action-packed Tinker, Hack, Invent Saturday in Henry Ford Museum with familiar Maker Faire Detroit faces HYPE, Kettering University and Ben’s Encore. Get to know a little more about Ben’s Encore and the project they’ll be making.

Ben's EncoreWhat will you be doing during this week’s Tinker, Hack, Invent, Saturday?
We will be making bottle cap sleigh bells, shown above, with the guests of Henry Ford Museum this weekend. We like to use recycled materials to make instruments that are fun, cheap, and easy. These sleigh bells will be perfect for the upcoming holiday season. For instructions on how to make these sleigh bells and other ideas, download our free instrument building guide.

Ben's Encore

What are some of the favorite hands-on activities at Ben’s Encore?
The hands-on activity of ours that people like the most is our giant percussion wall. We created it for Maker Faire Detroit this year. We basically took some wood and a bunch of recycled materials that make cool noises and built a giant wall for people to bang on. Unfortunately, it is extremely loud so it won’t be traveling with us to Henry Ford Museum this weekend.

What other projects is the group working on these days?
We are currently building partnerships with music organizations in the metro Detroit area to roll out our 2014 series of grants supporting musicians and music education. In support of these grants, we are having a chili cook-off fundraiser on Dece. 15 at Dragonmead Microbrewery in Warren. More info can be found here.

Sheet Metal Punch

What’s one tool you can’t live without?
We are all feeling quite a bit of love for our sheet metal punches right now. These punches allowed us to pre-punch holes in roughly 10,000 bottle caps in preparation for this month’s Tinker Hack Invent Saturday. We used to use a hammer and a nail to punch a hole in the each bottle cap, so these punches have saved us quite a bit of time. That method worked fine enough when we were hosting smaller workshops, but imagine trying to use a hammer and nail to punch a hole in 10,000 bottle caps!

What was your favorite part about Maker Faire Detroit 2013?
Our favorite part of Maker Faire Detroit 2013 was easily all of the amazing people in attendance. When you run a small non-profit organization, the power of your work lies in the people that support it. We were energized by all of the people at Maker Faire Detroit that expressed interest in our cause and our work. That is one of the most wonderful things about Maker Faire Detroit: it provides an opportunity for the creative minds in the area to display their ideas and their work, and gives a chance for the community to experience these ideas and interact with them.

Tinker, hack and invent with Arts & Scraps

Arts & Scraps

If you’ve been to Maker Faire Detroit, you’ve probably seen Arts & Scraps. Having a lot of crafty fun with their Scrapmobile, the team at Arts & Scraps always bring imaginative projects for crafters of all ages to enjoy. This weekend they’ll be our featured makers at Tinker, Hack, Invent Saturday in Henry Ford Museum. Get to know a little bit more about this organization.

What will Arts & Scraps doing during this week’s Tinker, Hack, Invent Saturday?
Arts & Scraps will provide bulk materials for people of all ages to “create their own invention.” The project involves utilizing creativity, critical thinking, and mechanical engineering to design and build a personalized invention. Using the byproducts of industrial manufacturing, individuals will be able to adhere materials of various shapes, sizes, and consistencies together in a way that will allow them to invent a new product to help make their lives easier, by using their imagination.

What are some of the favorite crafting activities at Arts & Scraps?
Arts & Scraps provides projects and experiences of many different varieties. Projects include holiday-themed crafts, supplemental education kits, interactive learning opportunities at Scrap Junction and with our Scrapmobile.

What other projects is the team working on these days?
Arts & Scraps is heavily involved in the community on an ongoing basis. Working with our corporate partners and with the help of thousands of dedicated volunteers throughout the year, Arts & Scraps provides memorable learning experiences to over 275,000 local area children each year, and recycles between 26 and 28 metric tons of material. Arts & Scraps can be seen in the community at local events, in schools all over metro Detroit and beyond, as well as in local churches and municipalities. For more details on where you can find Arts & Scraps near you, feel free to check out our monthly calendar.

What’s one tool you can’t live without?
Our volunteers. No question about it.

What was your favorite part about Maker Faire Detroit this past year?
The energy. Meeting with all the inspiring makers, gleaning new and refreshing ideas from strangers, enjoying the attractions at The Henry Ford, and having the opportunity to be part of a truly unique and engaging experience has been a very special opportunity for Arts & Scraps that is most certainly greatly appreciated!

Tinker, hack, and invent with W.E.C. Institute


Joining us this Saturday during our Tinker, Hack, Invent day in Henry Ford Museum is the W.E.C. Institute. You might remember them from past Maker Faire Detroit events! Their mission is to “pioneer the science that advances our lives. To inspire youth to follow in our foot steps, stand on our shoulders, and reach beyond our grasp.” Learn a bit more about the group from director Andre Lee Renier.

What will WEC doing during this week’s Tinker, Hack, Invent, Saturday?
We will be showcasing the process we utilize while inventing, fabricating, and recreating the exploding armor. We want to highlight the process of inventing including making mistakes and recreating components. Continue reading

Meet the Maker: NSF International

IMG_0986Tell us a little bit about NSF International and your on-site activation at Maker Faire Detroit this year.
NSF International has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment for nearly 70 years. As an independent, public health and safety organization, NSF is committed to protecting and improving human health on a global scale. NSF International protects families by testing and certifying thousands of consumer goods each year, including kitchen products and appliances, personal care products, dietary and sport supplements, bottled water, pool and spa equipment, water treatment systems, plumbing fixtures and many other products used in homes every day. Look for the NSF mark on products you purchase.

NSF International microbiologists, chemists, toxicologists and engineers will lead hands-on laboratory experiments with the goal to get kids interested in science as well as emphasize the importance of protecting public health and the environment. NSF demonstrations will explore polymers, an important building block used by chemists. Kids will be able to help make nylon string, see and then touch polymer foam and elephant toothpaste being made using dish soap, yeast and hydrogen peroxide. Other experiments will focus on sustainable and compostable products.

What was the inspiration for your activation?
We plan to demonstrate how science can be fun with summer science experiments and highlight how NSF International helps protect public health and the environment!

How do you think NSF International embodies the making spirit?
NSF International’s Ann Arbor headquarters houses unique and innovative custom labs, including the largest drinking water treatment lab in the world, and NSF’s Applied Research Center, which performs original scientific research and contract testing for universities, government and the private sector geared towards protecting public health.

What are you most looking forward to at Maker Faire Detroit this year?
At NSF International, we work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) every day and we are very excited to share our passion for the sciences and public health. We are looking forward to conducting science experiments with kids, and to encourage them to be more involved in STEM.

Meet the Maker: David Holmes

Skater (23)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your projects.
I was once described by my elementary school teacher as a “divergent thinker.” My entire life I have lived with the neurotic tendencies to find out how and why everything works. Being of curious mind, and small financial abilities, I usually try to build my own devices, or set out to create new ones. I am also an avid videographer and photographer, and when the time came to do some more professional looking video work, the steep cost of camera gear hindered my abilities. Most camera gear is quite simple. Rolling dollies are nothing more then Rollerblade wheels and PVC pipe. Camera cranes are just parallelograms with support wires and sturdy yet lightweight frames. Nothing was beyond my abilities as a woodworker, so I set out to make all of my gear myself and save quite a bit of cash in the process. As for the PVC train horns, well that’s just my inner child having a bit of fun :) The train horns are very impressive not just from a standpoint that they are made of PVC and they are TRAIN HORNS, but also the fact that something so simple and so cheap to make from standard hardware store items can bring such joy. The number one question I get asked about my train horns is “why?” then after I demonstrate them the next question is “how can I make a set?” Continue reading

Meet the Makers: Craft Faire 2013


Interested in doing a bit of local shopping from some creative area crafters this weekend? Look no further than Maker Faire Detroit’s outdoor midway. Located outside of Henry Ford Museum, this group of crafters has been hand-selected by the organizers of DIYpsi. Like what you see? Mark your calendars for DIYpsi’s next show Aug. 16-18 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti. Like them on Facebook to stay in the crafty know!


Continue reading

Meet the Maker: John Sugg

Meet Maker Faire Detroit maker John Sugg of i3 Detroit. A participant in the faire since the very first year, i3 Detroit is back once again with a variety of fascinating projects to share with guests. Make sure to visit John and try your hand at his DIY Video Arcade; if you were a Pong master growing up, you won’t want to miss this.