A Feast of Creativity: Art + Design at 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire

Bay Area Maker Faire, held May 20-22, 2016, in San Mateo, Calif., once again served up a feast of creativity in a diverse range of categories that included art and design. Drawing more than 150,000 attendees, the event showcased innovative do-it-yourself projects and the technologies that enable them. It’s the largest of three “flagship” Maker Faires in the U.S. National Maker Faire will come to Washington D.C. June 18 and 19, followed by World Maker Faire in New York, October 1 and 2. You can also visit smaller “featured Faires” and “mini Faires” in cities around the world.

Here are some highlights from the Bay Area event. You can see more on my website and Facebook page:


Falling prices are putting laser cutters within reach for do-it-yourselfers and solo designers. Glowforge can cut wood, cardboard, acrylic and other soft materials. It can engrave those materials plus harder ones like glass, marble, ceramic tiles and some metals. Pre-order pricing starts at $2395. The company says that pre-orders will ship in nine months.


Sample projects created with the Glowforge.


Gerard Rubio and Triambak Saxena demonstrate Kniterate (http://www.kniterate.com/), which aims to make digital knitting as easy as printing. The $2500 knitting machine will be accompanied by web-based software that works like a painting program. You can create multi-layered designs, complete with custom “knitting fonts” like Alligator and Barbwire. There’s no word yet on when it will launch.


One of my favorite Maker projects was “Sandwriter SKRYF,” which draws letters on the ground in sand. Maker Gijs van Bon also created a sandwriter that can draw pictures.


This is a poem about technology. Wind causes the messages to slowly fade away.


Based on 19th century technology, this “Harmonograph” uses pendulums to guide a drawing apparatus. It was made by a team led by Seth Augustine and Christina La Sala at California College of the Arts.


The pendulums move wooden arms and the drawing surface to create complex geometric patterns.


Harmonograph uses hands cast from members of the team that built it.


Fast-forward to the 21st century. ZarPlotter is a “drawing robot” that creates large-format prints from Adobe Illustrator files.


Sample artwork made by the ZarPlotter.


PancakeBot is a $300 appliance that “prints” and cooks pancakes from designs stored on an SD card.



UberBlox founder Alex Pirseyedi aims to “bridge the gap between the world of Lego and the industrial world,” he says. Using the company’s web-based software, you’ll build a custom 3D printer, CNC router or other robotic gizmo from interchangeable parts. The company will then ship you the parts and assembly instructions. Here, he discusses the technology with Maker Faire attendees. He estimates that a 3D printer or router will cost $600 to $700 depending on how it’s configured.


Pensa Labs describes DIWire as the first “desktop CNC wire bender.” It transforms SVG or DXF files into 2D metal shapes that can be combined to make 3D objects. The base model sells for $3375 to $3575. The company is planning to introduce a costlier “Pro” model that can produce smoother curves.


Sensel Morph is a customizable input device with overlays for music production and art. Unlike a pressure-sensitive stylus, it lets you paint with real brushes.


Al Linke of Creative Arts and Technology demonstrates the company’s LED Pixel Art, which lets you upload animated GIFs to LED panels. Three versions are available: an art frame, wearable “iBling” and a purse. Animations are uploaded via iOS or Android apps.


FlipBookIt makes $40 kits and web-based software for creating hand-cranked flipbook animations. The makers describe it as “the first-ever analog GIF player.”

Join HOW for Brush Pen Lettering 101, an online workshop:


This workshop is for those who want to learn the basics of brush/hand lettering. Start off the course with learning the basic supplies needed for brush lettering and how to use them, then delve into strokes and the beginning of hand lettering letter forms. As you work your way through this workshop, you will develop your own personal style of brush pen lettering. Learn more and register.


2 thoughts on “A Feast of Creativity: Art + Design at 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire