Submissions from VMMF Yarn Party

A few weeks before Maker Faire 2012, we received a large shipment of wool from Granted clothing. We decided to pass out free wool to anyone that wanted to knit something awesome. Scroll down to check out some of the submissions!

A felted table covering:

A hand knit toque:

Finger warmers!

A kayak cozy!

A creative wall hanging:

A poof!



To see even more photos of submissions, check out our yarn party group on flickr.

Maker Music: Call for Submissions

Call for Maker Musicians!

Do you make your own music instruments?

Do you use diy practices in your music production?

Do you use play your existing instruments in a creative way?

Are you an artist and affiliate closely to the Maker movement?

Then we want you!

Maker Music is a one evening event intended to showcase the DIY community in the performance art and music scene. Circuit benders, instrument makers, and performance artists are encouraged to apply to this one night event the first week of November. Musicianship is always considerably DIY, but in the Maker Movement ethos, we now have a chance to expose the rich creativity found in Vancouver’s music community and to celebrate it in one event.
Submit your application here by October 1st and join us in this wonderful event!

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire + Mom = Bliss

Vancouver’s second annual Mini Maker Faire witnessed a sea of smiling faces two weekends ago, as local makers shared, entertained and inspired the city’s hungry minds.


Being a volunteer, I was eager to share the experience, so I invited my parents along.


There was plenty to see and do — but what first? 3D printer village? Perfume mixing? Soldering? Painting with bikes? Felted beads? Mushboo? Disaster Area?


More than 100 makers were busy tinkering, weaving, hacking, playing handmade horns, drawing with robots, and carving faces out of sand.


It was a thrill for the senses and a feast for the mind.


During a short break, and in between bites of scrumptious pakora, I asked my mom what she thought of the event.


“It reminds me of the mentality we had in the 60s and 70s, you know, getting back to the garden,” she mused. “Everybody wanted to make their own things — clothes, macramé, growing their own food, working with leather. Only people would do it in small groups. Nobody would have put an event together like this.”


Right on! A gold star from my mom! And she’s right on too. The event is organic. It’s educational. It’s loopy and it’s kooky, but most of all it’s fun. It’s a nerd’s paradise, no matter what kind of nerd you are.


As I listened to my mom speak, I looked inside my purse full of little handmade trinkets, some of which I made myself onsite. I felt so inspired.


“It’s the beginning of something,” she said. “I’m not sure what exactly. It feels like Circle Craft, deconstructed.”


A Volunteer’s First Maker Faire

What a magical place! My first time at Mini Maker Faire was the overwhelming array of sights, sounds and motions that I had hoped for. The Makerverse was a hustling, bustling assault of the senses.


As an early morning volunteer, I headed to the front gate to begin my shift, passing the beginnings of stalls I saw many things that intrigued me: weird shapes protruding, projections screens expanding, messes of criss-crossing wires and circuits, cables being gaffered to the ground and strange objects lifted from boxes.  I wanted to explore, but I knew I had to focus on helping out. I spent the morning volunteering at ticketing, where I saw kids buzzing with excitement; jumping, squirming and smiling ear to ear. It’s good to see that the Maker movement has captured the hearts of those so young.


Silver Dog Vancouver Mini Maker Faire


When my shift was over, I was finally able to round the door and see what awaited me. Things spun and clicked and rolled and danced before my eyes. There were glowing lights and the whir of a helicopter overhead! Scents emanated from the perfume booth. A long, low, echoing note surprised me from a horn made from a hat. Strings and sculptures dangled. Visual projections warped and altered. Flashes went off from the callotype booth. Here I was, surrounded by making. I felt immersed in the joy of creation and sharing, and I too started to buzz with inspiration. If you are heading to Mini Maker Faire today, here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect to find.

Meet Your Makers: The Robots of Dan Royer


Hannah Miller interviewed Dan Royer



Dan Royer is coming to VMMF 2012 with a robot entourage. In this video, he talks about the moment he realised he needed something more fulfilling to dedicate himself to – and why robots are it for him.





What’s the first thing you can remember making earlier in life?


The first popular moving device that I made was a small mechano rotary fan that looked like a scale model of a windmill that I brought into the portables at my grade school in grade 5 or 6. I was the only kid who had a fan in this blistering hot little sweat box so I was quite popular. It was one of the few times that I was!



What is it like to be part of the Maker community at Vancouver Hack Space?


There are definitely minds here that think differently from mine. The projects that I work on tend to be big and complicated and they take a long time and a lot of patience. I see some people here who come up with simple things that can be done in minutes, that are beautiful to look at and just the concept alone – everyone gets it right off the bat. I just go, wow, because I don’t think that way. I’m so focussed on my goal and there was this beautiful thing off to the side and I wouldn’t have seen it, even if I was looking at it.



Since this is your second Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, what can we expect this weekend?


As a maker, expect to be standing on your feet for two days, expect to lose your voice, bring your water and your lunch prefaced and you will be smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

As a person who is visiting the Faire, pretty much the same thing. The few times I took a break and said watch my table I’m going to go around, I was just…I didn’t know where to look next, I was all over the place! There was a giant crab that walked. There was a woman making glass beads outside and you could participate and make your own glass marbles. There were paper planes that were flying around. There were all kinds of things that were lit up and moving that responded. There were sounds. There was some kind of thing you danced in front of and on a screen it showed you dancing there, but it was funky technology changed around…I don’t know how to put it. There were people with CNC machines – there’s a whole 3D printer village this year! Last year there were two 3D printers and a laser cutter. It’s grown enormously and it’s just going to be fantastic. I expect to be thoroughly awed.




Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is happening Today and Tomorrow!

Come on down to the PNE Forum for some fun times! The event will be happening from 10-6 on both Saturday and Sunday.

Meet Your Makers: Barry Shell of Perfumes by Hido


Hannah Miller interviewed perfumer Barry Shell.


Barry Shell Amateur Perfumer


A organic chemist turned perfumery hobbyist, Barry Shell will be bringing his extensive collection of natural essential oils and other odorous compounds to VMMF. Barry introduced me to olfactory stimuli I’d never even heard of, let alone smelt – including something made from whale poop! Look for his booth this weekend so that you can make your own custom perfume sample, instead of just listening to me smell mine in the clip below.



One final question: Is there a scent that you wish you could bottle?


Sure, there’s tonnes of them. You know when you go on a hot summer day to a lake in the mountains and the rocks and the moss are sort of baking in the sun…you know, that smell.



If you’re interested in Barry’s comments about our inability to digitise smell, he’s written a great article on it here.


Meet Your Sponsor: The Hackery

The Hackery was most gracious to come on board as a community sponosor again for this year’s Maker Faire. The Hackery, located on the a block north of  East Hastings on Victoria Drive, is a fantastic tech shop that repairs, recycles, re-purposes and re-sells computers and electronics. These services have expanded beyond just catering to Vancouver. Their highly active online eBay store has since become an integral part in the international electronics collector community.


When you walk into The Hackery, the first thing you will notice is the diversity of equipment they have on their shelves. From Commodore PET computers, to vintage radios, to even one of the first fax machines, they have all kinds of wonders you could just oggle at for hours. Aside from their thriving online business, they have all kinds of walk-in customers: people looking for laptop replacement parts salvaged from their scrapyard, people interested in recycling electronics (which they spend the time to fully dismantle for usable parts, before sending true end of life material to audited material handlers and refineries), and in my case, electronics for one of my Maker projects!


David Repa, The Hackery’s founder and owner, was kind enough to walk me through their back area where they do their repairs. At one table, a monitor repair was being diagnosed by a DIY tool that could determine whether a capacitor was blown without removing the capacitor from the board. At another table was a diagnostics computer whose own innards hung down from a wooden beam above the workbench. I also got a demo on how one turned it on, you woud have to hot wire the thing. Awesome!


David also co-founded Free Geek Vancouver, and rented the upstairs of The Hackery to the founding members of the Vancouver Hackspace, one of our sister organizations, making him deeply ingrained in the DIY community here in Vancouver. He really does know how to hack in Vancouver, and his scrap yard is no exception. The ‘Scrap Yard’, a garage filled with computers and other electronics waiting to be sold, repaired, recycled, or cannibalized, was massive! Stacked with laptops, flats of Apple IIs (and all of it’s periphreals), bins of components and boards, and a self-repaired forklift. They even have their own in-house metal waste compactor (DIY’d no less!).

In a time where throwaway culture is becoming more and more prevalent, the value of The Hackery’s venture cannot be understated. They fight through the flood of disposability and find the gems, find the salvageable, and help people continue to use electronics free of guilt knowing that they have a proper ethical recycling facility at The Hackery when it is needed.


The Vancouver Maker/Hacker community is extremely lucky to have a space like The Hackery. Their warm, friendly, and open nature is very approachable and even my brief time interviewing them has left me with all sorts of ideas and inspiration for my next DIY project. I recommend stopping by, chatting with their staff, as there is all kinds of great things you could learn. Thanks again David, you guys are great!


You should follow The Hackery on Twitter here and on Facebook here.


Meet Your Makers: Al Roback of Grass Frame Works


Ever wanted a bike frame that’s completely sustainable and totally unique? Vancouver’s Grass Frame Works has just the thing: a bicycle made from bamboo.


Al Roback spent time researching the varieties and uses of bamboo and had the inspiration to start building bamboo bicycles when he was studying in Asia.


When he’s not on the production line, he spends his time finding materials and parts for Grass Frames’ bikes, sourcing them as locally and sustainably as possible. In fact, sustainability is one of Grass Frames’ top priorities. Their frames are manufactured from bamboo poles, hemp fibre, aluminium fittings and plant-oil derived epoxy. They constantly source out the most ethically grown bamboo and most eco-friendly products on the market, while also cutting down on waste in the production process.


Driven by a need for local, innovative, and sustainable manufacturing, they also offer a course teaching others to build their own frame. Here’s what Al had to say about his influences, the bike-making process, and what he plans to bring to this year’s Maker Faire.



How did you come up with the idea for making bamboo bicycles?


I was studying in Asia and noticed the way they used bamboo in construction of buildings and furniture. Being a cyclist and a woodworker, it got my mind going. What started a a side project ended up being a really great bike.


How important is sustainability to you, and how does this influence your product development?


Sustainability is one of Grass Frames top priorities. We constantly source out the most ethically grown bamboo and most Eco friendly products on the market while cutting down on waste in the production process.  It really results in better quality bikes in the end.


Are you the first company ever to manufacture bamboo bikes?


I wish I could claim that! Bamboo bicycles have been around for a long time. They were making them in England at the turn of the century and now in Australia, Asia and the USA there are companies that have been making them for a few years. But we’re proud to be the first company in Canada to making bamboo bicycles.



I gotta ask, how durable is a bamboo bike frame, and how much does one cost?


The bikes are incredibly durable. Because they are bound at each end, the bamboo will keep its structural integrity even if it were to crack in a situation like being hit by a vehicle. We do offer a 10-year warranty with each of our bikes. We’re extremely confident on their durability. The frame alone is $2000 and a full bicycle starts at $3000.


What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?


We will have the bikes out with us, be doing some fun demonstrations on the durability of bamboo, and showing people how we build our frames. We might even build a frame at the Faire to show our process.




Meet the Grass Frame Works team at Maker Faire tomorrow, or visit their website for product and ordering info.

Meet Your Makers: David Gowman – The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra


David Gowman, or Mr. Fire-Man as he’s better known online, is a prolific instrument-maker, performer, orchestra leader and culture creator.


Mr. Fire-Man creates events that allow viewers to become participators. He trains volunteers to act as ‘shills,’ or prepared performers hidden in the audience. He also creates physical artworks (horns made from local, natural materials), and composes song structures that allow simple interactions to happen – such as a ‘Call and Response’ song.


The result of such meticulous preparation is not only to make musical instruments, but also to create a cultural moment that sicks in participants’ memories. The result is a unique event where the barrier between performer and audience is removed, resulting in the union of creator and consumer.


From his Maker Faire bio:


“In 2002 I made a horn from a stick of elderberry wood. It took about two hours of labour to produce a sound. Nine years later, a band called the Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra entertains with the descendants of that horn (there are over forty as of last count). Looking back, that simple act of burning a shaft through the pith to make a chamber was a turning point leading to a near decade of music, interactive art and instrument making.”


As I learned more about him, I became more and more intrigued. Homemade horns? More than forty of them? All made from natural materials? Combined to create a Horn Orchestra? And anyone can take part??




So I caught up with Mr. Fire-Man to find out more about his work, and hear what he plans to demonstrate at this year’s Maker Faire.


What’s the The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra all about? Can you describe your sound?


The Legion of Flying Monkeys is an interactive art project that happens to have an orchestra specializing in singalong music. We also have monkey puppets, parades of clowns, diabolical corporate geneticists and dangerously hypnotic lounge experiences, but perhaps for this interview I should focus on the orchestra.


Our sound is midway between Circus Sideshow and Zombie Apocalypse, though you should judge for yourself.


You make horns from local, natural materials such as old felt hats, hardwood branches, the dried stems of giant cow parsnip and papier mache. What are your favourite materials to work with, and why?


My current favourite material is empresswood because of its ease of carving, lightweight nature and speed of growth. Also, I am cultivating it locally at the Means of Production Garden with some success.  A well pruned empress will produce 18 feet of new, hollow growth in a season.



A neat thing about your live events is how they allow the viewers to become participants. Can you tell us more about how this works?


Most of our songs have an interactive element, meaning a part that the audience can sing (or yell as the case may be). Simple structures such as a call and response style facilitate easy entrance into the spirit of participation even for the uninitiated.


How can someone check out your events? When do they happen, and where  are they located?


My events are always posted on my website. Currently we’re playing Midsummer Fete at Colony Farms on Sunday June 24th, the Jazz Fest on Saturday July 1 in David Lam Park, the Railway Club on Wednesday July 18th (9pm) and Maker Faire before all of these, on the Saturday afternoon.


What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year? How interactive will it be?


I’ll be bringing several horns for random visitors to try, many alcohol wipes to disinfect them in-between, and a huge selection of razor sharp tools for children to handle (just kidding). You can expect loud horn blasts to emanate from my booth throughout the day.