Cool Technologies + Innovators from Bay Area Maker Faire

Maker Faire, held May 17 and 18 in San Mateo, California, was a goldmine for any creative professional seeking inspiration for out-of-the-box thinking. It’s a showcase for maker culture, emphasizing do-it-yourself projects in areas such as 3D printing, electronics, woodworking and old-fashioned arts and crafts. It lies at the intersection of art and technology, but many projects have a retro or steampunk aesthetic.

Maker Faire 2014The Bay Area event draws more than 120,000 visitors. If California is too far, the producers put on a New York Maker Faire in September and smaller ones around the world. Here’s a look at some of the coolest work on display, and the people who made it possible …

Makers Show Their Creations

Rodwin Pabello’s Predicta PCs


San Francisco designer Rodwin Pabello transforms old Philco Predicta TVs into Windows 7 PCs, placing LCD monitors behind the curved glass. He uses these to create art installations in which the PCs play movies or TV shows. At Maker Faire, the TVs were showing Alfred Hitchcock movies.


A look inside the Predicta PC.

Carla Diana’s Maker Prince


Leo, the Maker Prince is a new book by product designer Carla Diana that aims to teach kids (and adults) about 3D printing. Models shown in the book can be downloaded and printed. She spoke on stage at Maker Faire about how she created the book.

Shannon Chappell’s Rock Golem


Shannon Chappell of Calgary makes props and costumes largely from found objects. The Steampunk Rock Golem, on the right, can be run by an operator who climbs in through the rear. It can walk, glow, swivel its head and produce sound effects. Standing more than 12 feet tall, it’s built mostly from mattress foam, PVC pipe and LED lights. The Argus 3D scanner is in the background.

Jere Dean’s Urban Octopus

MakerFaire-17-Urban Octo01San Diego-based designer/illustrator Jere Dean uses screen-printing to produce T-shirts and posters “reflecting the passions in my life,” he says, including bicycles and animals. Why is he drawn to Maker Faire? “It’s my kind of people here,” he explains. “They connect with my art. They get what I do. Maker Faire opens the door to bring these people together.”

Steven M. Johnson: Inventive Cartoons

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Cartoonist Steven M. Johnson has been creating whimsical inventions on paper since 1974, when a Sierra Club publication assigned him to conceive a series of futuristic recreational vehicles. “I created so many that I realized I like to invent things,” he says. Among his ideas: A dishwashing dining table, an unzipped fly alarm and a bike that folds into a vest. He was at Maker Faire to promote his books: What the World Needs Now, Public Therapy Buses and Have Fun Inventing.

Norm Sperling’s Irreproducible Journal

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Norm Sperling is editor of The Journal of Irreproducible Results, a science humor magazine. He also teaches astronomy at U.C. Berkeley. The resemblance to Albert Einstein is intentional. “I wear my hair like him because I can,” he says.

Steampunk Dreams + Luminous Arts

Slide show: Maker Faire sometimes feels like a gigantic time machine, taking attendees from Victorian-era creations in the Steampunk section to futuristic illuminated projects in Fiesta Hall. Hover over the images to see captions.

Highlights of Past Maker Faires

Slide show: Photos from the 2012 and 2013 events.

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Want to push your creativity into overdrive? 
Check out creativity expert Jim Krause’s latest book, D30. Exercises for designers to inspire your own DIY project to show off…