With 3D-printed chocolates and hands-on workshops, the Mini Maker Faire made do-it-yourself culture seem awesome.
Despite the chilly and rainy weather on Saturday, Wychwood Barns was jam-packed with exhibitors, volunteers, and enthusiastic attendees for the annual Mini Maker Faire. “Mini” might be a slightly inaccurate title now, though, because more than 4,000 people showed up over the course of the two-day festival.
Maker Faire events, which celebrate the ingenuity of do-it-yourself enthusiasts, are popping up all over the world. The original Maker Faire, brainchild of MAKE Magazine, was held eight years ago in San Mateo, California—it now regularly draws over 100,000 attendees and 800 makers. The Maker Faire in New York City, which has been active for three years, boasts over 500 makers and 55,000 participants. Maker Faires are now organized around the world by independent maker communities.
At the Toronto Mini Maker Faire, many local tech groups and maker collectives exhibited their handmade, modified, or hacked technology. Some of the most interesting exhibits belonged to groups working with 3D printers. In some cases, makers were demonstrating different applications for the printers. Hot Pop Factory, for instance, was using its machine to print jewellery. Elsewhere, Ord Solutions was demonstrating its Canadian-made 3D printers, which can print objects in multiple colours. Matterform demoed the perfect accessory for a 3D printer: a 3D scanner. Perhaps the most beautiful (and delicious) creations of 3D-printer technology at the faire were 3D Chocolateering‘s printed chocolates. The production process involved heating chocolate dust with lasers.
Since the focus of the Maker Faire—and maker culture in general—is on, well, making things, there were many hands-on workshops. A large-scale workshop introduced participants to the basic concept and process of soldering, which is a key part of building or modifying electronics. At the same time, The Open Organisation of Lockpickers was running a demonstration about how to pick locks. One of the most popular workshops for makers of all ages was the Toy Hacking Booth by MakerKids, which helped kids build new toys out of spare parts and modify existing toys in ways both aesthetic and functional.
With more and more maker-culture institutions, like the Toronto Tool Library and Site 3 coLaborary, popping up around the city, the maker scene is rapidly gaining a foothold in Toronto. Events like the Mini Maker Faire are bound to extend the movement’s reach.