This month Rory and I jet set off to California for a spring getaway – just in time to leave a brown post-winter Edmonton and return to a lush green summer one! Most people expected me to return home with a glowy beach tan, but in the Bay Area, it actually tended to be warmer in Canada. Luckily, I was prepared with a few more sweaters on hand than the first time we visited a few years back.
Our adventurings began in San Mateo for the Bay Area Maker’s Faire. This was a gathering of those who make things…anything! We saw 3D printing, robots, scrapbooking, food processes, sculptures, mobile cupcake cars…anything and everything beyond your imagination.
Rory had submitted an LED project and had a small demo booth in the glow-in-the-dark hall, which was a really cool place to hang out! We got to sit right next to a rock’n’roll Tesla coil band who played music with the lightning strikes. The group had collaborated with fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht who designed a Faraday dress and stood in the middle of the performance.
It is very interesting to see fashion through the ‘tech’ lens (which was definitely the trendiest focus of the show). It tends to take one of two categories; high-end sculptural, art-piece fashion (a la Anouk) or campy ‘rave’/ costume-y LED glow clothes. There are exceptions, such as the bicycle jacket with illuminated turn signalling, but for the most part, tech and fashion don’t mix well enough to crave adoption by the masses. This left me wondering…what needs to be done to change that?
We found a vendor in one of the halls who was selling conductive paint that was water-soluble and could be used to ‘dye’ traces into fabrics instead of using metal wiring to integrate electronics. Not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but I am sure there is something exciting on the horizon.
Rory spent much of his time outside his performance completely enamored by the sudden array of 3D printers and scanners, each being slightly different, from plastics to silicone, extruding to laser beams, it is completely incomprehensible what we can be capable of. I’ll just say it simply. 3D printers are cool.
My favorite part of the weekend, though, was when I visited the textile area. They were teaching everything from needlepoint, yarn spinning, cross-stitching to knitting and crochet. A recent dream of mine has been to learn how to knit and one day be able to create my own cozy winter sweaters. The idea of taking something from a ball of string and turning it into a real, wearable garment blows my mind. In the interest of the rest of our travel, I decided to take my first baby steps with crochet, as the hook seemed easier to take along with me for the trip than a pair of needles. I think I got the hang of everything fairly quickly, and my instructor was spending her time trying to document anyone at the faire wearing cat shirts on Twitter. You could say we were kindred spirits.
In all, attending Maker’s Faire was an amazing experience (if not a bit of a sensory overload), being in the presence of so many creators can’t help but be inspiring.
Also, giant mechanical, steampunk, flame-throwing octopus. Just because.