May 31 at Dougall Park in Gibsons will be the site of the Sunshine Coast’s 1st Annual Mini Maker Faire. Coast Makers, a group of about 60 local makers, applied for and received official status from the San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire Organization. “You can have a sporting event,” says David Chisolm, lead organizer. “But when you have the Olympics, people take notice.” Getting that official status has put the Sunshine Coast on the worldwide maker map, a testament to the quality of makers living here on the Coast.
So what, or who, is a maker? “We’re a really diverse group,” explains Chisolm. “All ages and genders, tech types and programmers, but its arts and crafts too.” Being a maker is “about fun and exploration and mashing things up and seeing what you can do.” Chisolm cites the example of someone who developed a soccer ball with a battery in it that charges while it’s kicked. “That’s huge in villages in Africa that have no electricity. The kids play soccer all day and that night they can use the ball (as a light source) to read.”
There will be approximately 20 exhibitors at the faire, and one of them, Get Makered, run by Diane Mueller, features a mobile 3D scanner and printer. It’s mobile because Mueller, with the help of friends and family and local sponsors, repurposed an old trailer and outfitted it with the equipment to do body scans of people while they stand on a motorized turntable. Mueller says seeing herself in 3D completely changed her self-image. “It was the first time I saw ‘me’ as others see me, rather than just the glimpses we see of ourselves in mirrors or photographs.” She immediately wanted to scan everyone she knew, to share that transformative experience. “I like connecting people to technology, explaining things and breaking down processes into digestible non-scary chunks so that everyone can walk away understanding how it works and can make it work for themselves after I drive away.” Mueller promises those attending the faire will have a safe space to explore new technology as well as getting a chance to help with the scanning or being scanned themselves.
There will be lots of other things to see and do at the faire: homemade robots, medieval crafts like armour making, bottle launching stations, make your own draw bots and electric motors, just to name a few of the planned activities. “It really is all about fun and exploration,” says Chisolm. “Imagine a place where high tech is your past.”
Visit sunshinecoastminimakerfaire.com for more info.
By Arts Columnist Anna Nobile