It’s raining, the kids battery-operated robot isn’t working. You’d sit and make tea and toast but the toaster is broken, and so is the kettle for that matter.

Just plan a little ahead and bring all your almost-working or seriously-broken small appliances, electronics, toys, and gadgets to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Peter Mui and his lovely Fixit Clinic team will provide workspace, specialty tools, and guidance to help you disassemble and troubleshoot your item. You’ll be back in tea and toast in no time. And, if for some reason it can’t be fixed, at least you’ll know more about how it works and why it broke in the first place.

Of course, if all attempts fail—just take it down the hall to the Wreck Lab and give it its due!

Watch the Fix-It Clinic in action here:

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For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store— In room 1 are sewing machines all lined up in neat rows; shiny new scissors, spools of thread and heaps of fabric. Peek into room 2 and see long tables covered in crisp paper, silk screens, and brightly hued tubs of ink ready to be opened. It’s Christmas morning, first day of school, that sweet anticipation.

If you like to craft you will likely spend a good chunk of your day in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama* with us.

In the Sewing Room ALL DAY:

Clothing Swap—Donate your old adult or kid clothes; Come pick through our piles of available freebies—hack them, mod them, print on them, cut ‘em up and use them for some other project. This is the spirit of the Swap!

No Sewing Necessary:
▪            Make a Cape—be a superhero, a bat, a wizard, a princess, whatever…Halloween is right around the corner folks;
▪            Make a Tutu/Mermaid Seaweed Skirt/Hawaiian Hula Skirt without touching a needle and thread;
▪            Mod your T-shirt –you can make those fringed, beaded shirts all the cool kids are sporting; use scissors, fabric pens, glue on some bling, add beads and more.

Some Sewing Required:
“Little pocket monsters” with brilliant artist Meredith MacLeod. She’ll help get you started and supervise some machine and hand-sewing monster making.  Go as simple or elaborate as you want; and if you feel the need to adopt or a Monster of hers, you may be in luck.

For More Sewing: We have sewing machines for you to use, with experienced sewers on hand to help troubleshoot, teach and inspire. Take full advantage. And if you want to really get your game on—stick around and maybe we’ll have a catwalk in the afternoon so you can strut in your new threads!

Screen Printing Room

Idiot or Genius These Portland based artists are designing a special one-off poster for our event! You can come and print the final color layer on the poster and take one home with you! They’ll also have their own work to show and sell, and can help you print on almost anything;

Rock, Paper Scissors Collective If you don’t know your hometown RPS from Art Murmur or from their admirable outreach work with teens, you should. These returning artists are coming with a cool new batch of silkscreens, as well as some of their member-crafted zines, shirts and paperie to sell.

Park Day Screening Zone Add some cool, original graphics to any fabric, paper or clothes you find in your visit—or even the shirt or hoodie off your back.

*Swap-O-Rama-Rama by Wendy Tremayne is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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David Calkins is the founder of Robogames, the “olympics of robots,” where operators and their creations compete in over 50 different events, from fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu.

David and his crew are not only bringing combots for show at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, but he’s also doing a workshop Sunday on “How to Make a Combat Robot.” David will cover all the basics of how robots move and control their speed, as well as how to build a basic bot using cheap parts, pitfalls to avoid, and all sorts of other tips.

The Piedmont Scotbots, a U.S. FIRST robotics team from Piedmont High, is bringing their combot arena and will be letting folks operate their robots. !!!  The FIRST Tech Challenge is an exciting robotics competition designed for high school students. An accessible and affordable robotics kit is used to solve a different challenge each year. Thousands of teams from all fifty states compete in local contests to go to the annual world championship. Here’s one of their entries for Robogames last year:

Troy Mock is bringing his Rambunctious Combat Robots:  Warpig, a 1 pound bot with a powerful lifter and ultra-strong titanium armor, and Attitude, a 3 pound bot with an 8 inch titanium saw blade, designed to cut, rip, and shred!  Most recently, both these robots competed in the international 2011 Robogames.  Out of nearly 60 battlebots total, Warpig and Attitude both took a well earned bronze medal.  Check them in action:

More robots at EBmMF are coming from The Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition for Bay Area high school students.   This cool program offers UC Berkeley students to mentor local high school students as they design, construct, and program a mobile robot.   A key feature of the competition is the $100 per team entrance fee, which ensures that finances are not a barrier to entry.  You’ll be able to drive one of their robots as well.

The Miller Institute for Learning with Technology hosts a wide variety of hands-on workshops, including Program-A-Robot, Build-A-Computer, and Troubleshooting 101. Their East Bay Mini Maker Faire booth will illustrate several of the workshops, and they’ll also be providing hand-on examples of robots, computers, and music.

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Let’s say you want to build a radio-controlled polystyrene airplane or mess around with fabrication robots.  It can be messy, noisy, and even a bit dangerous to explore new technologies.  The kitchen table is not an option.

AMT at last year's East Bay Mini Maker Faire

 Ace Monster Toys is a hackspace in North Oakland.  While they have advanced tools and organized classes, they are primarily a place where people come together to share a passion for making things. Members are provided with a workbench and unlimited access to the shop.  Rather than being project or class based, the group encourages collaboration, experimentation, and community.

Board member Christian Fernandez, puts it this way. “We have cool stuff, but really it’s about having these interesting, creative people, have them all in the same place at the same time, and see what comes out of that.”

Fernandez recently completed a decidedly low tech project, an Aleut baidarka, or skin boat.  Of course he replaced the traditional seal skins with an advanced material.  “It’s cool, you can see the waterline from inside the boat.”  Other members are hard at work figuring out cool things to do with their new cutting laser.

Visit the Ace Monster Toys booth at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire for more information.  If you decide you need more making in your life, they have a bench for you!

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Most of what you’ll find at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire will inspire you to do something with your hands, but we also have fantastic talks about the history, future, and culture of making, talks that will feed your brain and spark your intellectual curiosity.

Nicholas de Monchaux is an architect, urbanist, writer, and Assistant Professor of Architecture & Urban Design at UC Berkeley.  Nicholas is coming to EBMMF to talk about an unlikely but fascinating subject: the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment, what Armstrong and Aldrin wore when they walked on the surface of the moon in 1969.  As he puts it:

The Spacesuit they were wearing was made not by a military-industrial conglomerate, but by Playtex makers of women’s underwear. Not only was the suit hand-sewn by seamstresses whose usual work was sewing bras and girdles, but the head of suit development for Playtex, Lenny Sheperd, had only previously worked as a television repairman. An artifact of maker culture long-before-the-fact, the Apollo spacesuit holds crucial lessons for how we approach technology, and our own human nature.

Nicholas will be speaking at 1pm; check the final program for location.

After a mind-opening exploration of this artifact of maker culture, be sure to wrap up your visit to EBMMF with a look into the future.  Tim O’Reilly, whose company O’Reilly Media produces the Maker Faire and MAKE magazine, and whom Inc and others have called the Oracle of Silicon Valley, is going to share his thoughts on what this all means in our closing speaking slot at 4pm.  We asked him what he wanted to say in his talk, and here is how he replied:

Right now it’s easy to see the maker movement simply as a DIY movement. But of course the PC and Internet revolutions also began as DIY phenomena. Inside each of was set of enormous cultural and technological changes with implications far greater than were anticipated at the time. This talk will explore where the maker movement is taking us. We’ll cover everything from what the maker movement tells us about the future of manufacturing, health care, education and the economy.

Join us on October 16 for these and many more fascinating, informational, and inspirational talks.

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We are thrilled to announce a fantastic panel discussion at East Bay Mini Maker Faire:  The 21st Century Shop Class:  Developing the Creative and Critical Doers in Today’s Schools.  David Clifford of the East Bay School for Boys will lead the discussion along with a variety of “shop teachers” from around the Bay Area to discuss why learning with one’s hands is critical in today’s complex world.

Shop class?!  Surely you remember shop class:  Bookcase projects? Cutting boards?  You might not know this, but those classes and projects have gone the way of home phone service and the decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  Shop class is pretty much gone.  Lathes, band saws and routers liquidated.

Maybe those bookcase projects were one-dimensional.  But in the vacuum of any hands-on learning opportunities in school, there is rising recognition that shop class might have purpose after all.  There are studies to prove it:  many people show improved comprehension of science and math principles when they get to MAKE something instead of read it in a book.

Spanish class desks 8th graders designed and built at East Bay School for Boys

Clifford knows it from experience. He spent 13 years as a “shop teacher” at Lick Willmerding High School in San Francisco—part of that as the Director of the Technical Arts program (he is now Innovation and Outreach Director for the new East Bay School for Boys—check out the nice set of resources he has on design and building.)

Clifford and Lick’s approach to Technical Arts is interdisciplinary in the best way:  ” Application objectives include cross-disciplinary and collaborative learning, skills for engineering, effective problem solving, creative expression, competency in the language of craft and design, and personal empowerment through self-confidence and self-esteem.”

Clifford will be making a presentation on his findings and curriculum objectives for this kind of class, and then will moderate a panel discussion amongst “shop” teachers from across the Bay Area, including:

  • Eric Temple, Head of School, Lick-Wilmerding High School (San Francisco)
  • Alex Vitturn, woodshop teacher, Aurora School (Oakland)
  • Liisa Pine, welding instructor at Laney College High School Machining and Welding Program (Oakland)
  • Casey Shea, math teacher and Project Make instructor at Analy High School (Sebastopol)

If you are a parent interested in bringing shop back to school, or if you are an educator working towards this, we encourage you to come participate in the discussion.  Bring shop class back to school!

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Jillian Northrup and Jeffrey McGrew are Because We Can, a full service design studio in Oakland that specializes in architecture, interiors and “fantastical things”.  Even though they are a very small team, they are able to do digital design all the way through fabrication because they are leveraging a new class of affordable yet advanced tools like the ShopBot, a computer-controlled router for fabricating with wood, plastic, aluminum & more.

If you’re someone who loves visual design, but has never ventured into physical making because power tools are a tad bit intimidating, come to Jillian and Jeffrey’s workshop presentation at East Bay Mini Maker Faire, “Using Digital Fabrication to Change the World: Empowerment Through Automated Tools.”   Jillian herself comes from a graphic design background, but found her way to making physical structures through output of digital files to these computer-controlled tools.  Jillian and Jeffrey (the other half of Because We Can, an architect) will explain  how this new class of mills, routers, lasercutters, and even 3D printers can empower you to change the world for the better, turn a hobby into a business, and make the world a more interesting place.

A good example of Because We Can’s process is this tail for The Serpent Twins, a 2011 Burning Man electric art car/sculpture.  Jillian is holding a prototype she fabbed using their ShopBot in the first picture below; scroll down to see how it translated to full-scale in sheet metal.

Because We Can actually has a great post documenting in detail the process they went through for the Serpent Twins—check it out.

Keep watching for the full schedule of workshops and talks.  Come to their presentation, and look for Because We Can’s “Big Trike” at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 16th.

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Did you put up some jam or veggies this summer?  Roasting your own coffee?  Making syrups or soda?  Baking bread?  Drying fruit?  Got the still going?  Bring your makings to East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 16th for a special edition of Kendra Pomo’s East Bay Homemade Food Swaps.

We found out about Kendra’s cool events through out Homesteader Stage media sponsor, Edible East Bay.  They wrote a great article on all the gleaning and food sharing activities going on in the East Bay.  Kendra’s version is a super fun one.  The idea is this:

The event operates like a silent auction where swappers jot down their offers. This gives other swappers an idea of who wants their goods and what they’d score in exchange. At the end of a designated bidding period people can decide who to trade with. Typically, there’s a tasting station too. For the first hour people mill about, chatting and checking out the chow. Then the bidding begins. Once everyone has had a chance to make their swap choices known the actual trades take place. Informal verbal requests for unclaimed items follow, once written swaps have been honored. The idea, after all, is to go home with different foods than the ones you brought. (From Edible East Bay.)

Intrigued?  Want to participate? Here’s how:

  1. Register to participate at There’s only 30 slots available, so you’ve got to do this ahead of time.
  2. Kendra will send you your special discount code for tickets to East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Buy your tickets!
  3. Arrive at the Faire and check in your goods at the Urban Food Swap area by 12:15 p.m.
  4. Food swap begins promptly at 12:30 p.m. and will finish up by 1:30 p.m.

And, hey, if you don’t have something right now, no sweat!  You’ve got 3 weeks to get it done… But don’t miss the opportunity – sign up today!

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Reason #235 to come to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire: Where else can you enjoy a taco from Zamoranos while you watch Chris Anderson demo the latest in DIY drones?

Chris Anderson & DIY Drone

What’s that, you don’t know what a DIY drone is?  Well it’s also called an amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV, if that helps. Basically it’s an aircraft that can fly by itself, without a pilot in control.  And the point is, you can make one at home.  Berkeley resident and Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson does, along with his kids.

Chris not only makes these amazing machines, but he’s also convened the community of DIY drone enthusiasts online, and catalogs the collective intelligence of these tinkerers for everyone’s benefit.  If you’re interested in checking it out, his Getting Started page on is a great place to, well, get started.

Or just come get the scoop from him in person at 1pm on Sunday, October 16th, taco in hand.

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All of this coverage of the Detroit Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum has me desperate to share my summer find, the very best museum in Europe:  Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.

Clément Ader's steam-powered bat plane, Avion III.

Founded in 1794 during the French Revolution, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metier was charged with collecting scientific tools and inventions.  217 years later, the permanent collection is jaw-dropping, old, exhaustive, and beautiful. It’s where you’ll find first inventions in everything from energy, flight, transportation, measurement and calculation, to communications and architecture.

Like the Henry Ford, the museum’s prototype machines have that magic of industrial “simple:”  you can almost understand how the machine works by seeing all the parts.   And the inventors were often also the fabricators.  Here are just a few gems in the collection that caught my camera’s eye:

1844 electric motor by Gustave Froment

Volta's "pile" from 1799—the first electric cell

Car with propeller, Leyat, 1921

Gorgeous gears

One of many stellar, styly early bikes

Early mathematical models. Good sculpture.

Needless to say, all prime inspiration for coming home and gearing up for the second annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

We want flying machines, hand-built bicycles, solar ovens, goat-butchering workshops! Help us spread the word to all the quiet geniuses in garages, basements, machine shops, kitchens, gardens, and office corners across the East Bay.

Call for makers, performers, crafters, vendors for our own “museum” of arts and innovation is open through September 1.

P.S. Faire means “to make” in French.

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