‘Maker Faire’ again hosted by OMSI

See why these events are about more than just making machines and gadgets …

Thousands come to OMSI to show off, or to learn about, all kinds of unique things people like to create.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s not part of the “World Maker Faire®” held that’s in New York in late September, but people attending Portland’s smaller, community-driven version of this event – the independently organized “Mini Maker Faire”, held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) – again made it a major success.

The two-day event, on September 13 and 14 in the north OMSI parking lot, drew crafters of all kinds to “show and tell” – and to observe, learn, and be inspired.

For some, the notion of a “Maker Faire” conjures up images of people building robots, machines, and other hardware and electronic devices. While indeed there were many displays of technology, others creators showed more down-to-earth crafting skills.

Using wood and a bow, Trackers Earth Founder and Company Director Tony Deis shows how to make fire without matches or a lighter.

“In addition to showing how we make fire, by actually rubbing two stick together, we’re showing other crafts,” said Trackers Earth Founder and Company Director Tony Deis.

“For example, we’re showing how to make spoons, using a relatively recent piece of technology – a steel knife,” Deis told East Portland News. “Although, we do wood crafting using stones, which is perhaps a two million-year-old technology. We show it doesn’t have to be high-tech, to be ‘making’.”

OMSI Events Director Andrea Edgecombe agreed. “It’s not just ‘steam punk’ and high-tech. Here at our third annual Portland Mini-Maker Faire, we have a gal who is doing a giant friendship bracelet. We have gliders. And, Intel is making a giant duck.”

It’s not all “high tech”, says OMSI Events Director Andrea Edgecombe, about the OMSI Mini-Maker Faire.

110 different projects were shown, from building a “tiny house” for people to live in, to 3-D printing, kinetic sculptures, and sparking Tesla coils. “People make stuff, they bring it, and they show it off. We have a huge variety here, which makes this a lot of fun.”

The Faire is important to the mission of OMSI, Edgecombe said, because the organization focuses on areas of engineering, innovating, inventing – as well as designing and making things.

“In fact, we’ve opened our own OMSI exhibit design shop – showing our process, going through the process of ideation, on through to execution and prototyping,” Edgecombe said. “These are all important parts of science and research.”

Mark Keppinger demonstrates how to play the Theremin, the musical instrument controlled by hands, without actually touching it.

The crazy sound produced by a Theremin, an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact, often heard on the soundtracks of old science fiction movies, attracted a steady stream of people to interact with the device brought by Mark Keppinger.

“I’m both a collector and maker,” Keppinger said. “I worked at OMSI for 15 years, but now I have private workshop is an Inner Southeast Portland. My Theremin is more popular than I am; it’s loaned out all the time.”

In the OMSI Maker Tent, kids learn new “maker skills” for design and crafting.

Dan Petersen, of the Oregon Agate and Mineral Society, demonstrates stone polishing.

A group of low tech makers, from outer East Portland based Oregon Agate and Mineral Society, demonstrated their lapidary kills.

“I’m making a cabochon,” said member Dan Petersen. “They’re usually inlayed, as artistic touches, in other things made of metal or wood. When completely polished, it looks really cool.”

From the ancient art of paper-making, to high-flying electronics, this year’s Mini-Maker Faire demonstrated crafts for all.

Steve Van Bergen takes Mini-Maker Faire riders out for a spin on a “kinetic sculpture” he calls “The Kingfisher”.

On our Front Page: This electric “Jacob’s Ladder” attracts the interest of young an dold, at the OMSI Mini-Maker Faire.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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