Maker Faire Preview

by Carrie Marie Schneider January 16, 2013
UH-10F Hovercraft

UH-10F hovercraft

What are you doing this Saturday? Come with me to Houston’s first Mini Maker Faire. I first heard about Maker Faire from Aisen Caro Chacin, and to me it embodies a very sane counterpoint to the art pyramid, with its huge base of creative hobbyists, inventors, tinkerers and Sunday makers who often go uncelebrated for the celebrity of international art stars at the top.

Another example of a chink in this model is the Great God Pan’s recent poll “What Art Did You Like Best in Houston This Year?” Brilliant.

Blah blah the Internet gives lateral access to all forms of expression, everyone can be their own artist, any micro community can connect and thrive. I am so tired of talking about this—but so excited about all the evidence of it that will be exhibited this Saturday.

Here is a preview of some of the makers:

Like the LARPers next to the Lucky Burger, the Houston-Area Monthly Nerf Outing seems like an amazing social sculpture to me. Justin Roth “modifies and custom-builds foam dart blasters, commonly known as Nerf guns, to improve performance and sometimes for cosmetic purposes.” Once you’ve shot a Nerf gun 150 feet you probably feel pretty invincible, but why not also design your own action figure?

Action Figure Labs

Action Figure Labs

A tinier version if that? Alright.

ElvisTrooper by Jared Burks

ElvisTrooper by Jared Burks

“You’re creating a LEGO version of the Zombie Apocalypse and you need a variety of customized minifigures to complete the scene—what are you going to do?” Jared Burks, aka Kaminoan, makes custom LEGO mini-figurines.

Even tinier?

Burton Reckles with Glass Encapsulated Miniatures

Burton Reckles with his Glass Encapsulated Miniatures

Burton Reckles makes “reality reduced & reproduced” with his Glass Encapsulated Miniatures. His craft includes not only ships-in-bottles (“this 400-year-old art form has only about 100 practitioners in the U.S.”) but also very tiny dioramas ranging from educational vignettes for children to Holocaust memorials.

Then there’s Courtney Kilgard, a high school science teacher and e-textile creator, who will outfit us with those screen sweaters and LED pants we’ll all be wearing when we ride on our hovercrafts.

Yes, hovercrafts:

LSX prototype hovercraft

Lone Star LSX prototype hovercraft

Then you can check out the Model Warship Combat exhibit and visit with the SubRon5 R/C submarine club.

SubRon5 R/C Submarine

SubRon5 R/C submarine

Car-wise you can hear the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir (a singing fish and lobster art car), and see the DC Plasma, a world-record setting drag racer from Houston makers who “instead of squeezing every bit of efficiency out of an electric car, they…maximize[d] the fun”

DC Plasma Electric Drag Racer

DC Plasma electric drag racer

Erick Calderon from SKU Lights will show and tell about projection mapping.

Projection Mapping Eric Calderon

Projection mapping, Eric Calderon

No less than six exhibits will feature 3D printers, including our beloved TX/RX hackerspace.

NAO robot schema

NAO robot schema

The NAO robot will also be in attendance, putting all these robots to shame:

Techno Chaos is also making big leaps forward in human/robot relations…Techno Chaos is “collaborating with educators and leaders across Houston, is managing the exhibition of 12 different types of robotics, with a primary focus on educational robotics programs. Real examples, operated by real students, will be demonstrated in one large coordinated area. This is the most-comprehensive display of educational robotics ever in Texas, and one of the broadest to appear anywhere.”



The event should be very family friendly. There will be lots of food trucks, analog-etsy style shopping at crafty cute booths, and DIY celebrations galore. Pop Shop has a cool line up this season, and are bringing something or other to Maker Faire. There will be engineering toys, The Children’s Museum, Lisa Chouinard’s make your own soap activity, Mark Schulze’s make your own infinity mirror activity, and a fourth grader named Ian with his own booth.

As someone who tries to teach art to over-tested kids whose imaginations are dormant, I am happy to see the humor, collaborative creation and spark of these makers.

As someone who has been reading Gregory Sholette, I am happy to see all these “makeshift, amateur, informal, unofficial, autonomous, activist, non-institutional, self-organized practices—all work made and circulated in the shadows of the formal art world “demand visibility” and remind us that the creative impulse is not nearly as phased by art as some would hope.

Houston Mini Maker Faire
Saturday, January 19, 2013
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Stafford Center
10505 Cash Road
Stafford, TX

Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture
Gregory Sholette. Pluto Press, 2011

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