Tag Archives: Maker Faire

Maker Faire Makes Top 5%

There are Maker Faires all over the world.

New York has one. Rome, Paris, Beijing. Hong Kong too.

Westport’s got a Maker Faire — and a damn good one.

But what we also share with those much bigger cities is that all of them are in the top 5 percent of attendance globally.

That’s right. Of the 772 Maker Faires in 44 countries, only 37 had more than 10,000 attendees.

Our “little” event on Jesup Green drew 10,500.

In addition to 10,500 attendees, last year’s Maker Faire drew plenty of robots.

That should give organizers a smile. And it may push you to apply to be part of this year’s Maker Faire. It’s Saturday, April 21.

The deadline is this Thursday (March 15). They’re looking for the usual: “artists, musicians, engineers, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, businesspeople, comedians, and creative people of all ages and backgrounds to inspire attendees with what we as humans can do.” Click here for more information.

And if you’re not creative, but have a company that wants to sponsor this very popular (top 5%!) event, contact Mark Mathias (mark@remarkablesteam.org, 203-226-1791).

Kerstin And Vijay’s “Princess Bride” Wedding

She’s a Westport teacher from Minnesota who majored in art. He’s a Brooklyn computer programmer, born in India.

They met through OkCupid — how else would their paths have crossed? Despite their disparate backgrounds, they fell in love.

Unsurprisingly, their wedding Monday afternoon at Longshore was — well, different.

Some of the actors at Kerstin's wedding. They're part of her improv group. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Some of the actors at Kerstin’s wedding. They’re part of her improv group. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

The theme was “The Princess Bride.” Sure, any couple can have a wedding based on the Rob Reiner-directed love/adventure/story-within-a-story movie.

But Kerstin and Vijay are not “any couple.”

“We’re so far down the nerd rabbit hole, it’s amazing,” the Bedford Middle School instructor laughs.

She nailed it.

David Pogue played the narrator. He read the "Princess Bride" story to his son Jeffrey. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

David Pogue played the narrator. He read the “Princess Bride” story to his son Jeffrey. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

They got the original movie script, and edited it down to 30 minutes. They enlisted the help of friends like David Pogue, who played the father reading the love story to his son Jeffrey.

Then everyone changed — did I mention the couple rented costumes for the “cast”?– and the actual wedding took place outside.

Kerstin and Vijay spent weeks making an enormous mockup of places from the movie: The Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, Miracle Max’s Hut, the Castle of Florence. It served as a cake stand. Where else would you put it?

Kerstin and Vijay cut the cake. They created the "Princess Bride" tableau themselves. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Kerstin and Vijay cut the cake. They created the “Princess Bride” tableau themselves. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

There was a sword fight too. It was not really planned out. Well, Kerstin and Vijay knew about it. But many guests were members of her improv group, so…

Bill Derry as the Impressive Clergyman. He also performed the actual ceremony. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Bill Derry as the Impressive Clergyman. He also performed the actual ceremony. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Bill Derry — the Westport Library‘s assistant director of innovation and user experience — served as officiant. He was not some random choice. He’s the visionary behind the “MakerSpace” at the library.

This was very much a “Maker Wedding.” The Maker movement brought Vijay and Kerstin closer. It introduced them to David, Bill and Mark Mathias (another member of the wedding). And the wedding combined elements of the Maker movement: model-making, Arduino programming, improv comedy, costumes, old-fashioned calligraphy, modern Photoshop editing and Etsy craft vendors.

Even the choice of day and time — Monday afternoon — was unique.

“We’re not rolling in dough,” Kerstin says. “We wanted a beautiful venue in the fall, and Longshore is less expensive on non-weekends. We looked at the calendar, and chose Columbus Day.”

But — oops! — in March, the Board of Education decided school would be in session that holiday.

Kerstin took a personal day to get married. A few fellow-teacher guests worried they’d be late, because of a faculty meeting.

It all turned out fine. The affair went as perfectly as any improv-filled, “Princess Bride”-themed wedding between an Indian programmer and a Westport teacher should go.

No word on what they’ve planned for their honeymoon.

Kerstin and Vijay walking back down the aisle. The ceremony included both American and Hindu traditions. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

Kerstin and Vijay walking back down the aisle. The ceremony included both American and Hindu traditions. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

Library Meets Its Makers

The Westport Public Library is very popular. It’s definitely cool.

And incredibly innovative.

Its latest project is a new Maker Space, on the main level. Designed as a venue for creativity and production, it’s the 1st of its kind at any library in Connecticut.

The Maker movement — introduced in April at the Library, with a fair that attracted over 2200 people — is a reaction to a long historic period in which innovation and invention were reserved for specialists. As more individuals become inventors, Maker Faires and Spaces are popping up everywhere.

Though not yet in any Connecticut library.

Except ours.

The Westport Library Maker Space will be a place for anyone — and everyone — to create content as well as consume it.

Why the library? According to a press release, the Maker Space — like a library — is “an incubator for ideas and ventures.

“In this era of hands-on learning and interaction, libraries should provide experiences that take people from imagining to actually producing.”

And for those Westporters — you know who you are — who think the town spends too much money on unnecessary “stuff,” Maker movements are seen as economic engines. They encourage entrepreneurs to emerge and thrive.

The Westport Library’s 1st Maker project is the construction of two 15-foot wooden airplanes. Maker-in-residence and builder Joseph Schott invites anyone interested to help him craft these planes this summer. (Two random people have wandered in already, and joined him.)

Additional planning is underway. Library programs will feature talks by “Makers,” including a Westporter who made his own life-sized functional robot.

Also ahead: the purchase of a 3D printer (to print 3-dimensional objects from digital files).

The Westport Library will discuss all this — and more — at a press conference next Monday (July 2, 11:30 a.m.).

Can’t “make it” there? No problem. Our uber-technologically savvy library will live stream the event, at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/makers.

(For highlights of last April’s Mini Maker Faire, click the YouTube video below.)

If You Build It,They Will Come To The Maker Faire

Last September, Mark Mathias took his kids to the New York Maker Faire. The event — an exhibition/showcase/festival where techies, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, musicians, engineers, artists, students and anyone else entertains, informs and connects with kindred spirits of all ages and backgrounds — inspired the entire family.

Mark’s son was especially impressed with the marshmallow shooter, made from PVC pipe.

Three months later, for his 7th birthday, he and his friends build a similar contraption. “They learned about plumbing, projectiles and air flow,” Mark says. “And they had fun.”

Alan Winick will exhibit his personal submersible yellow submarine at the Maker Faire. Eight feet long and 2300 pounds, it has gone 120 feet deep in Long Island Sound.

On Saturday, April 28 the Maker Faire comes to Westport. The 1st event of its kind in Connecticut, it will fill the Westport Library and Jesup Green with contraptions, crafts, art, engineering, food, music, robots, rockets, magicians, jugglers, and whatever the cat drags in.

Over 50 exhibitors will provide demonstrations, hands-on-workshops and do-it-yourself resources. Anyone and everyone is invited to make, build, design, hack, eat, drink, listen, create and play.

The Maker Faire has already inspired a number of people. When Mathias asked the library for use of the McManus Room, Bill Derry — assistant director for innovation and user experience (!) — did more. He offered the Great Hall and Children’s Library too.

Westport Sunrise Rotary provided seed money. The Downtown Merchants Association will sponsor a “Battle of the Homemade Bands.” (That’s right: make your own instruments. You’ll be judged on creativity, tonal quality — and fun.)

A Rube Goldberg Competition begins with a pile of stuff (maybe a lawn chair, tubes, marbles — whatever the aforementioned cat drags in). Participants then construct a contraption in true Goldberg fashion.

You could call Westport’s Maker Faire a celebration of invention, creativity and resourcefulness.

Or you could just call it “way cool.”

(The free Westport Mini Maker Faire is set for Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Library and Jesup Green. All are welcome. For more information, email royfuchs@snet.net or call 203-856-4321. The deadline to apply as an exhibiting “Maker” is April 1; click here for a form. In honor of their 30th anniversary, CLASP Homes is a co-presenter.)

Mike Ogrinz is a longtime robot builder. The one on the left was constructed with cardboard and tin foil. His B9 robot (right, from "Lost in Space") will be on display at the Westport Maker Faire.