OAKLAND – The one thing 13-year-old Mohandas Duewa wanted more of at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire was time.
More time, that is, to experience the entire event — all 180-plus makers and dozens of performers who on October 22, 2017 brought their fire, silk screening, air compressor canons, paper airplanes, robots, hip-hop dance, glass blowing, homesteading and other creative do-it-yourself projects to the day-long festival at Park Day School and the city of Oakland’s Studio One Art Center.
“When I heard about it I thought it was going to be boring and just listening to people talk,” Duewa said. “But it’s actual things right in your face and you could make stuff. I mean, fire coming out of a gnome’s head? I wish I had more time to see more.”
The East Bay Mini Maker Faire is “mini” only because it’s smaller than the 100,000 person, three-day flagship Maker Faire Bay Area held in May at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds. The Oakland event attracts more than 6,500 people of all ages, and makers from around northern California.
While some of the broad themes of robots, rockets, science, crafts, and homesteading have remained constant in the faire’s eight years, the variety of exhibitors and new makers is what keeps Vera Leo of Oakland coming back.
Leo has attended four East Bay Mini Maker Faires and this year jumped in as a maker — she performed Japanese drumming with her all-women group, Heiwa Taiko, whose members range in age from 53 to 83 years old.
“I love talking to the various vendors because they are all so passionate about what they do. I was just telling some older friends that they really need to come here next year even though they don’t have children,” she said.
The faire’s variety of booths allows faire-goers to be as hands-on or hands-off as they want. The stage offered dance battles hosted by Turf Inc., allowing anyone to come on stage and show their hip-hop moves, or just enjoy the performances, while other makers showed off their solar vehicles, and sound-responsive LEDs; and anyone could learn to solder, shape alabaster by hand with sandpaper, or take a ride on a Frankentrike.
Makers were just as varied as the attendees. Several East Bay schools brought their projects, such as a chicken coop virtual reality environment, and a human-scale hamster wheel. Other youth hosted bubble experiments, built a BMX quarter pipe, showed competition robots, offered origami lessons, and shared a homemade race car simulator. Adult makers offered lessons on quilting, ceramics, leather work, and ham radio operations.
What draws the depth and breadth of makers is the ability to “show and tell” their projects in an engaged and appreciative community context, said Sabrina Merlo, who produces the event.
“Maker Faire is awesome because makers are right there, next to their projects, and you can ask them anything. In many cases, you can even try your hand at some part of their making process,” Merlo said.
“The makers’ passion and engagement is contagious,” she said. “Adults and kids alike leave inspired, even optimistic about the world and the impact one creative mind – and set of hands – can have.”