A diverse group of makers, tinkerers, crafters, and hackers gathered in Austin on May 12 for the first annual Mini Maker Faire. This was the Maker Faire organization’s first foray into Austin since a full Faire was held in 2008.
The Mini Maker Faire is much smaller than a full Faire, but still includes lectures, demonstrations, and DIY opportunities for the young and young at heart.
There were plenty of tech geeks in attendance, including Ben Combee displaying “Homebrew Atari Games.” He’s part of a network of hobbyists who build their own games for the Atari 2600 system. He estimates there are around 100 people doing programming for the 2600. Enthusiasts meet online at atariage.com, and gather in person every few years at the Classic Gaming Expo.
Arts and crafts were also on display, including unique Japanese “chiyogami” jewelry from Manue Reynolds of Pretty Kiku. She makes her own lightweight beads out of felt balls, wool, and hand rolled origami paper, which provides an interesting mix of colors, patterns, and textures. The results are large but lightweight statement pieces. Reynolds was inspired by her love of origami and origami paper.
“I asked myself, ‘What can I do with this paper that’s different and people haven’t seen a gazillion times?’,” she said. Her creations are available at prettykiku.etsy.com.
The newly-formed Austin chapter of the Awesome Foundation was present to spread the word about their organization, which provides no-strings-attached grants to a variety of “makers.” The group is one of over 40 global chapters, and collects applications and awards grants on a monthly basis. Their first grant was awarded to the Payphone Revival Project, a public art project.
If you have a project that “forwards the interest of awesome in Austin and in the universe,” you may have what it takes to get funded. For more information, visit atxawesome.tumblr.com.
Other groups in attendance with demonstrations and hands-on activities ranged from the Weavers & Spinners Society of Austin to the Westlake High School robotics club to R2-D2 himself. The Faire was brought to Austin by the Austin Tinkering School, and is the brainchild of MAKE Magazine.