The Tinkering Studio returns to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire with all essential Maker elements: new projects and eclectic materials. Do-it-yourself science. Things that may or may not work as expected. And prototypes that you can help test and shape with your own experiments.

tinkering-8 Offering projects in the prototype stage comes naturally. “It’s what we’re really good at,” says Ryoko Matsumoto of the Tinkering Studio, part of San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum. “We spend a lot of time with our activities at the prototype stage to craft an experience that has the qualities we care about, but whenever we are developing something new, we try to bring it out on the museum floor and test it with visitors as soon as possible.”

Their new balance activity began just two weeks ago, and Ryoko says she’s excited to try it out with visitors at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, a kind of “extended home base.” Since it’s so early in development, there are “definitely some kinks to work on,” and the exhibit can be shaped and refined with the experience of visitors.

This new project aims to incorporate different kinds of materials, particularly LEGO Technic pieces. In addition to the new project, the Tinkering Studio will also bring other Exploratorium exhibits on the theme of balance, including:


Unstable Table

Take it from the Top

Balancing stick

Each comes from the Exploratorium’s traditional exhibits. They offer several layers of participation “so that people can experiment with the same scientific principles – balance – on different scales,” says Ryoko.

Such refining of an exhibit through visitor participation perfectly fits the principles of the Tinkering Studio, a place where e “visitors can slow down, become deeply engaged in an investigation of scientific phenomena, and make something—a piece of a collaborative chain reaction.”  While their projects can spring from the intricate designs of visiting artists, scientists, and inventors, each goes out to visitors in a spirit of collaborative activity, says Ryan Jenkins, a member of their team. Exhibits aim to offer entry into exploration – a fitting goal for the Studio and the EB Mini-Maker Faire.tinkering-2

So what exactly can you make and do with their new exhibit? Even they don’t know before you arrive. Come visit and see.

Read more about The Tinkering Studio and the East Bay Mini Maker Faire here.

If you haven’t yet seen Danny Scheible’s unique creations with masking tape, you’re in for a treat. We asked the Tapigami founder and perennial tinkerer for his thoughts on art, design, and the Maker’s Faire.

Q: How did you get started with touchable art?courtesy Tapigami

I started for the simple reason there was not enough aRt* in the world you can touch.  My motto of tOUch the aRt was
born out of feeling like there was so much misuse of aRt to maintain society instead of to create it.  Who would have a friend that they can not hug?  To true experience something you must hold it.  tOUch the aRt also comes from a hope that I can encourage those around me to engage with the creative process and bring it into their daily lives.

*(I say aRt with a capitol are because it is not my aRt and it is not your aRt but it is ouR aRt.)


Q: You’ve been doing this for a decade. Have your creations changed over time?

I have been MAKEing things out of tape for a long time now, starting in 2005.  I have put in about 40,000 hours since.  After the first year of making aRt out of tape, I decided I was going to keep doing it until I could not make something new. That day has not come, nor do I think it will.  So I have now decided to keep working with tape until it is no longer fun.

The creations change from day today and many different factors influence that change.  I have a saying, “MAKE aRt for your ideals, but remember to MAKE aRt in your reality.”  My of the largest influences of my aRt is other people.  I take my aRt out into the world everyday and MAKE it with those around me.  I place it in there hands and they tell me what it is to them.
This process of sharing is one of the most creative ones and one of the more challenging because it leaves me open to public judgement.

I push myself to create new forms and shapes with tape everyday.  Many of my creations are doodles and a kind of pract
ice in understanding how everything fits together.  Also, I have very few people I can learn from when it comes to physical ways to manipulate the tape.  I will often times ask the strangers I meet if I can make aRt with them, and have them offer up a challenge about what to make.  These forces me to create objects and subject matter that I would never do on my own.


Q: How is your art affected by the medium of tape? What makes it different from sculpting in clay or stone?

All material is different. Tape is a ribbon of a material, and that material can be paper, plastic, vinyl, cloth, mylar to name a few.  Tape is a temporary medium thus I am constantly maintaining the sculptur
es I have created.  The way that i work with tape is a linear additive process.  To create recess spaces you must make separate shapes and add them together.  All complicated sculptures are created from the smallest points out and joined. The tape is very temperature sensitive and is very difficult to work with in humid warm environments.  In my studio in sAcRamenTo, we have been taking the process I have developed of rolling the tape into long tubes and folding or cutting it in different ways and applied it to glass metal and wood.  Learning to manipulate a physical material gives you the tool to create the shape or image that you want.  The interaction with the material teaches you the creative process.  I often tell students the way to understand a material is to sit around an play with it until it reveals what is is supposed to by to you.   I would love to be able to control the physical material that the tape is made out of – i.e. design a tape.  Currently I am dealing with the tape that is available for sale around the world.


Q: Are people more willing to try making art with tape than with traditional materials?

Yes.  One of the best parts about tape is that it has no social connotations associated with it.  No one has ever been told they can not make sculpture out of tape before so they believe they can d
o it.  Also the tape requires no tools or infrastructure to create sculpture with.  I tell people that to learn Tapigami is to turn yourself into a 3d printer.  I also refer to it as liquid Legos.  TAPIGAMI is a system of creation where you can control the individual units.  When working with tape I feel as though I am only limited by my imagination and dedication.  Also the first rule of TAPIGAMI is to have fun while you do it.  MAKEing should be fun especially at first when you don’t know what you’re doing.


Q: Are there any communal sculptures you remember especially well?

I have been making the same sculpture for the last 12 years.  It is made by everyone who wants to participate with it.

Recently I have made an Imperial Class Tape Destroyer with my friend Eben Burgoon.  It is 53 inches long, 29 inches wide, and 24 inches tall.  It is attached to a metal pole which allows it to be flown around society.  It will be flying around the EBMF though out the day.  It took 60 hrs to make and used 600 yards of tape.


Q: What are some of your favorite things at a Maker’s Faire?

My favorite thing at the Maker Faire is that children come up to me and ask what they are supposed to make.  The simple fact that there is an environment when sharing learning and creating is open accepted and celebrated makes me happy beyond words.  The MAKE movement has beautiful captured the common soul of humanity and celebrates individuals for being themselves and sharing there ideas to inspire others.  The MAKER’s Faire is on the forefront of culture and will be creating it for centuries to come.


You can find out more about Danny Schieble and Tapigami here.

Come see Tapigami at the EB Mini-Maker Faire and try out your own creations!

Pilot Justin Kelly has experienced close calls, nail-biting recoveries, and even crashes – all without his feet ever leaving the ground. Want to join him? Come enjoy the FPV drones of the Flying Flea Circus at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire.

fpv-pilotIn the world of First Person View drone racing, pilots don virtual reality headsets to see through cameras on the tiny drones. The footage gives the feel of being in the cockpit, even as the drones bank and dive through obstacle courses scaled to their size. The sport has become popular enough to include sponsorship of top pilots like Justin, for contests that attract worldwide talent. A competition in London earlier this year drew entrants from more than 30 countries, vying for a top prize of $200,000.

fpv-drone-buildingFPV flying links closely to the maker movement because successful piloting begins long before a launch. Many pilots build their own drones, and even off-the-shelf models have to be adjusted and customized to their tasks. Justin has outfitted some of his with infra-red arrays so they can be flown in darkness, an improvement over simply mounting them with a light. “Infrared travels farther and takes less power to generate,” he explains, making it ideal for small craft. Modifications to existing drones prepare them for new environments, tasks, or obstacles in a particular race.

At the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, Justin will be offering the Flying Flea Circus: an obstacle course navigated by FPV drones. Beyond showing what drones – and pilots – can do, the Flying Flea Circus aims to encourage amateur pilots to learn how to operate a drone safely, to build flying skills, and to improve reaction times through racing.

You can do all that in a safe outdoor flight zone established by the Flying Flea Circus, featuring a DIY Obstacle Course, Head-to-Head Races, and Professional Demos. Bring your own drone if you have one, or just come to experience the world of FPV flight.

Read more about Justin Kelly and the Flying Flea Circus at the EB Mini-Maker Faire here.



Thingamajigs makes music, and so can you—without even leaving the room. “People don’t have to spend a thousand dollars on an instrument to make meaningful music. We can find a lot of what we need in our environment,” says Edward Schocker, who co-founded the organization with Dylan Bolles in 1997.


As students at Mills College at the time, they noticed other composers were interested in electronics, as were a lot of their friends. Edward and Dylan started encouraging them to use technology for music, even making their own electronic tools, an unusual approach back then. It was fun, and it suited their setting. “That approach was an extension of the do-it-yourself attitude brought by the pioneers as they moved West,” Edward notes, an approach building upon a movement pioneered in the Bay Area by Lou Harrison and Harry Partch, born in Oakland at the turn of the century. “And because our proximity to Asia, we also became interested in musical traditions other than just those from Europe.”

Their interests became a mission, and their mission shaped their music, starting with school programs. Many schools lacked a budget for music, so Thingamajigs helped students make their own instruments. Right away, they noticed students valued the music more when they played on things they had designed and made.

Now there are many more venues to pursue their collaborative efforts, from hacker spaces to maker-oriented tech shops. Each exploration gives them an opportunity to pursue music in a different way, a goal they take seriously. “We’ve moved beyond tinkering,” says Edward. “Finding a new instrument is getting your feet wet, but that’s just a start. It’s a very deep pool.”

Read more about Thingamajigs and Edward Schocker at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire here.

Harmonic Series Gamelan, designed by California inventors

Harmonic Series Gamelan, designed by California inventor