Attending the KC Maker Faire
June 29th, 2017 | Robert McCown, Community Technologist
I was recently asked about what motivates me. My answer was somewhere along the lines of seeing people making something and sharing how they did it. I’ve seen some interesting, creative, and sometimes innovative projects that folks have thought up, designed or even created here at Do Space. I love hearing a member describe the project their working on, sharing their idea, and even sharing their technique or skills with myself or other members. Maker faires are an excellent place for people to share their projects and ideas. I was fortunate to be at Do Space when we hosted the Omaha Mini Maker Faire and I’m involved in the planning for Lincoln’s Make Lincoln event. The next nearest event that I’m aware of is the much larger Maker Faire in Kansas City which was held this past weekend.
The KC Maker Faire was held at Union Station this past weekend so my wife and I took a trip down there to attend Sunday. Last year they had about 350 maker booths and over 17,000 attendees. There were booths spread out on two floors and extended outside of the building as well.
One part of the building was filled with local crafters, robots, 3D printers, Legos, jewelry making, as well as booths hosted by area makerspaces, libraries, and schools. There were vendors selling printers, arduinos, Raspberry Pi’s, electronic accessories and more that I probably missed. There were also hands-on demonstrations for soldering, robot driving school, programming, 3D printing, and t-shirt screen printing. In the area just before heading outside was the robotics demonstrations from local youth groups including the First Robotics teams, Lego Robotics teams, and robot competitions.
The outside was populated with folks selling what they’ve made including shirts, candles, metalworking, handmade soaps, micro-gardens, and pottery. There were also a long line of lowriders from a local club, an area for a dozen or so food trucks, a small race track for kids, and giant musical Tesla coils that produce 15 foot arcs of electricity.
Exhibitors included solo makers, crafts, vendors, local makerspaces, and schools, special interest groups, and local school robotics teams. I saw many robots, 3D printers, legos, someone making jewelry from spoons, another making pens from marble blocks, battling robots, lowriders with hydraulics…
I haven’t even come close to hitting the wide variety of projects, inventions, and hardware that was shown at the Maker Faire. For me the most memorable booths were: a guy making custom jewelry from spoons, a 3D printer making gummy-candy, Tesla coils that played along to music, cardboard battlebots, a blacksmith from Missouri who had his own forge set up, and finally someone who hand makes and sells micro-gardens.
I went for the robots and hardware projects, looked at dozens of vendors and hand-made crafts but what really caught my eye, and the only thing I actually bought, was a tiny hanging plant. A young man from nearby downtown KC had handmade tiny clay pots and planted a variety of small succulents and other hardy plants that were, according to him, “hard to kill”. Of all the booths, his display and his description of how he made the containers, chose the colors and such, convinced me to pick one out and take it home. Perhaps I could use an Arduino to water it once a week…