Local ‘makers’ flourish at annual OMSI fair

Take a look at this now-annual event – which attracts designers, builders, and inventors – including several from outer East Portland …

Thousands of visitors come to the OMSI Mini Maker Faire to discover ways to awaken their “inner maker”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Portland’s “maker culture” is composed of those folks who revel in creating new devices and technology, as well as tinkering with those that already exist.

That culture was again celebrated on September 10 and 11 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

During this late summer festival, called the “Portland Mini Maker Faire”, dozens of “makers” visited with thousands of visitors who came to see exhibits, hear talks, and witness demonstrations of arts, crafts, science, and engineering, with many hands-on activities.

This year’s festival offered the widest variety of topics ever, says OMSI Director of Events Andrea Edgecombe.

“We’re in our fifth year of presenting this family-friendly event,” said OMSI Director of Events Andrea Edgecombe, as the Faire was in full swing in their north parking lot.

“It’s grown over the years, and this on is our biggest and best one yet,” Edgecombe told East Portland News.

Haley Marshall and Ruby LaBonty, seventh graders at Parkrose Middle School, showed what they’ve learned at their after-school Science Club, sponsored by OSU and Multnomah 4-H.

“This year there are than 115 maker booths, with more than 140 makers here showing off everything from 3-D printing, to skateboard jewelry, to ping-pong ball launchers, to back-woods skills,” Edgecombe explained.

Visitors watched demonstrations, and sometimes tried their hand at activities ranging from historic European martial arts and pirate gambling, to metal forging, to clay making, wood working, computer programming, leather making, and a variety of upcycled art projects.

Showing off their robot are Alexandre Couchout and Caleb Eby of the Lents-based Metal Beavers FIRST Robotics team, formerly situated at Franklin High School.

Julian Loisel and Noah Loisel, attach their hand-made LED lights to the display wall at the OMSI Teen Science Alliance booth.

This event helps OMSI meet their mission because the chief focus is innovation and engineering. “The ‘maker culture’ also encompasses design and experimentation,” Edgecombe pointed out.

“And, it encourages the ‘scientific method’ of trial, failure, and trial until one succeeds at making something work; that’s and important part of the creating and making process as well,” she added.

From the Madison South neighborhood of outer East Portland, Sarah Lonnquist from Olander Earthworks LLC shows computer-machine carved stones for sand play and occupational therapy called “Sand Spheres”. The concept was founded in 2008 by sculptor Andrew Lonnquist.

This gal, with PDX Yar, who calls “Mulligans”, shows how to play an ancient, and sometimes deadly gambling game, “Liar’s Dice”.

From ancient metalworking to cutting edge electronics, sewing arts to outrageous steam-punk inventions, this year’s Mini Maker Faire did offer ideas and products to stimulate the creativity of any do-it-yourselfer.

On our Front Page: Lisa Stefanowicz and Pelagia Stefanowicz make a drawstring pouch at the Portland Apparel Lab, a new maker space for sewn goods, in Southeast Portland.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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