Opening Soon: Laser Cutter Cafe in Chinatown

Laser Cutter Cafe 4
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Ever had your tea with a side of laser cutting? You’ll soon be able to at Vancouver’s newest (red) hotspot, The Laser Cutter Cafe, popping up June 26 on Columbia Street in Chinatown.
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Inspired by similar ideas in Tokyo and San Francisco, owner Derek Gaw wanted to bring the accessibility of public-space laser cutting to Vancouver. With his Full Spectrum Laser Cutter, Derek can make everything from business cards printed on wood veneer to etched glass, puzzles, sculpture and signage. He can take photos, text or graphics and etch them onto plywood or glass, and cut through wood, plastic or cardboard. Derek demonstrated The Laser Cutter Cart at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year, and had a slew of visitors come by to see just how easy it is to do their own laser cuts.

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Intrigued, I caught up with Derek to find out more about this unique project that’s sure to bring a smile to our city.

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Can you elaborate on what the laser cutter cafe is all about?
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The Laser Cutter Cafe is a cafe (we serve tea and stuff) that has laser cutters for anybody to use. Come make something and have some tea while you’re at it. In addition to our namesake tool, we’ll also have other things to play with, like 3D printers, a CNC router, a vinyl cutter, a textiles lab, and an electronics lab.
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Tea and lasers! Delicious combo. Where did the idea come from?
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The Laser Cutter Cafe was inspired by equal parts FabCafe in Tokyo (above) and TechShop in San Francisco. When I moved back to Vancouver, I missed having ready access to laser cutters, so I decided to get some myself to share with everybody.
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Can you describe what people can expect when they visit the cafe? Do you provide supplies?
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When you walk in, you’ll probably see someone using a laser cutter right in front of you. You’ll smell a hint of of campfire from the plywood they’re cutting to make a coaster for their tea cup. And then you’ll notice a whole slew of laser cut products for sale and display. First time visitors can take a quick safety and usage tutorial, and be laser cutting their own stuff in half an hour. We’ll have an inventory of ready-to-laser materials, or you can bring in your own, assuming it’s safe and approved by us.
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Why do you think the maker movement is going strong in Vancouver?
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Vancouver’s maker movement is growing strongly in part because it has a ways to catch up to more established maker cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Our west coast siblings are great role models, and we get to learn from their failures and successes.
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Why’s it important to share skills and knowledge?  
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It’s much easier than making all the mistakes for yourself (although sometime, that approach is quite educational).
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So check them out on or after June 26! Until then, you can start plotting your newest laser-cut project. See you at the Cafe!
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Photos courtesy of Derek Gaw, except Fab Cafe photo, courtesy of www.spoon-tamago.com






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.







Making in Action at Car Free Vancouver

Did you notice all the making going on at yesterday’s busy Car Free Events around the city? There were plenty of opportunities for kids to try their hands, as well as makers demonstrating their crafts right before our eyes. Here’s what I spotted:

 

Car Free Day Felted Balls

 Felt ball making outside our sponsor Plush on Main

Car Free Day Button Making

Button making outside Regional Assembly of Text

Jesse Toso Chainsaw Carving

Jesse Toso chainsaw carving

 

 

If you missed out, make sure you get along to Mini Maker Faire this weekend to see more making than you’ve ever dreamt of!







Knit or Crochet? Calling all Yarn Bombers!

 

Come help create fun public art to promote Vancouver Mini Maker Faire!

We’re looking for those of you who knit or crochet to help make the following projects happen:

 

Yarn Bombing Art Bikes

Immediately, we have tall-bikes from our Art Bike Project to yarn bomb and decorate by April 25. These will be on display at our next fundraiser on April 28, and locked to prominent bike racks around the city after that.

 

Yarn Bomb Sculptures

This is going to be an ongoing project, but the first installation will be on Sunday, May 6, for Got Craft?. We’ll be installing crochet/knit covered plastic bottle sculptures to telephone poles etc. along Commercial Drive leading up to the Royal Canadian Legion where the event will be held.

 

Yarn Donations

We have had some yarn donated, but we are going to need much more! So, if you have any spare bits in your yarn stash, please consider using them for these projects. And start saving your plastic bottles and containers, or grab them from your neighbour’s recycling bins!

 

To sign up, or for more details, contact Christina Norberg at cnorberg@makerfaire.ca.

 

Photo credit: Knitta Please