Once again our team was honored to be part of the Bay Area Maker Faire in this, its 10th year. We had an awesome booth right inside the doors of the Expo Pavillion, which allowed us access to countless makers and inventors. As always, we remain committed to offering free crafting to anyone who was patient enough to wait for a space at our tables. Unfortunately, this afforded us very little time to take in the Faire itself. Since I managed to see so little I thought it might be fun to hear from the other members of our team who also attended.
And so, I offer up: Sophie's World 2015 Maker Faire Commentary: Four Perspectives.
The challenging thing for me about Maker Faire is that it falls on a weekend. Not just any weekend, but one of our busiest weekends in May. Consequently, my time at the Faire was limited to 4 hours on Friday, 4 hours on Saturday, and 2 hours on Sunday. This translated to me being able to observe the creations of only those along my path from the entry gate to our booth. That in itself was impressive enough. My path took me past Bill, his beautiful and talented teenage daughter, and his unbelievable puppets. Bill’s puppetry skills are so incredible, and the puppets themselves so intricately designed, that one feels as if one has stepped back in time to an age when woodland elves and nymphs ruled the world. Around the corner from Bill was the pirate dirigible car, a vehicular work of art that reminded me of the movie Baron Von Munchausen, the tintype photographers, who recreate the photographic process of the 1860’s, the “high five” zone, the lemonade stand shaped like an actual lemon, and the knitting zone, whose fluffy wool kept migrating over onto my duct tape table.
Anything and anyone is possible to spot at the Faire.
From the moment I stepped behind my crafting table to the moment I had to extricate myself, I was surrounded by fabulously creative children and adults. It was a whirlwind of activity. The time flew faster than a pumpkin from a trebuchet!. I no sooner began working with folks than Scott was throwing duct tape balls to get my attention and tell me I had to leave or I’d be late for my next event. I had folks who had never seen patterned duct tape, to ultra-skilled tapers, to YouTube fans at the table. I had kids who crafted one day and then returned each of the following two days. I had little ones as young as 3! And older ones whose ages I won’t reveal! It was unbelievable. The one thing I can tell you: everyone walked away with something of which they were proud. And I was extremely pleased to meet them.
This year our booth included the three duct tape prom dresses we created for our Curious.com course. The dresses are so intricate and colorful, I was excited to include them in this year's display.
Scott and I decided to make the dresses the centerpiece of the booth. We felt they would usher folks into Sophie's World and man oh man did they ever! Thousands of people must have touched those dresses over the three days. I found the attention they received very flattering. I put a great deal of time, energy and love into creating those dresses and I believe it shows. It was an honor to show them in such a large venue and to bring joy and inspiration to the folks who got to see them. I remember vividly the works of art that inspired me as a child. Knowing that my dresses may have inspired others is truly humbling.
Our world truly is made of duct tape!
The dresses and other colorful projects helped Sophie's World win an Editor's Choice Blue Ribbon Award! Apparently, Sonia Russell, the judge who awarded us the ribbon, allowed her three year old daughter to choose her favorite booth. Her daughter chose our booth and hence we were awarded a ribbon. The bright cheer and obvious love radiating from Sophie's World magically won us that prize.
Thank you all for another great year at the Faire and the awesome chance to share our love of making with so many parents and children.
Irina, our graphic designer
The 2015 Faire was my second, but oh what a difference a year and a toddler make! Taking my three year old son Lucas was so much fun! He loved the shows, the light up robots and all of the incredible activities being offered. This event is one of wonder and inspiration. Only through the eyes of a small person (and his extremely nerdy father) can one truly appreciate what an awesome event we have the privilege of participating in.
Masking Tape World!
Incredible Displays throughout
Virtual Reality with my boy
The highlight of the event? Trying the Oculus Rift for the first time with my son and experiencing a truly "out of this world" experience that both he and I will never forget. When the goggles were placed on Lucas he entered a peaceful, soothing underwater scene. Me...I made the mistake of asking for something NUTS. They virtually placed me underwater in a metal cage where I was attacked by a great white shark!! I threw the glasses off before it could close its mouth. No words .... no words !
As the designated mouthpiece of Sophie's World my job is to greet and speak to everyone, or nearly everyone, that stops by our booth. I do my best to answer any questions, explain what it is we do, let people know how to find us and explore collaborations with other Makers and organizations. While Sophie and Freda are often hidden behind the lines of crafters at their tables I am out front engaging the throngs who walk by. This year was no different than past Faires. I spoke to people from all over the world and repeated the phrase "yes, that is made entirely of duct tape" about 10,000 times.
At one point I had a first-time attendee say to me in complete honesty, "who actually comes to this thing?". I found that sort of humorous as she was clearly feeling overwhelmed. I did my best to explain and reassure her. As I reflect back on that question, I find it fascinating exactly how hard it is to answer that correctly. Maker Faire really is an extraordinary collection of creativity, ingenuity, invention and imagination. What makes it unique and amazing is that it is driven first and foremost by people. Amazingly creative people. It is a unique pleasure to be able to engage with so many of them.
This year, my Dad joined the fray. He’d never experienced the Faire before. All of us were a bit uncertain what he would think. My dad is a trained fine artist, retired from the United States Mint where he was one of the 8 sculptors who designed our coins. After a day spent in the trenches making yarn dolls and observing other attractions at the Faire, he e-mailed me this message. “LOVED the Fair WANT to REPEAT NEXT YEAR. Love Deed”
Mom and Dad
I think that says it all...don’t you?
A special thanks to Ron Hemphill, Creative Director at curious.com, for allowing us to use his beautiful photographs