On Saturday, 26th April 2014, the Shadowcat crew made a mini-trip to the Newcastle Maker Faire. In truth Tom and Mark were making a brief pilgrimage to have a jolly time and help out on the Manchester MakeSpace's table and Kimball was there for the whole weekend on a planned annual visit.
The Maker Faire in Newcastle is the UK's largest Maker event. Held in Newcastle's Life centre in the centre of the city next to the station and within sniffing distance of the river. It attracts a large following from the many Maker groups in the UK along with the engineering and science departments of a number of Universities, societies, clubs, associations and other interested creatives.
- The first thing you recognise about the Maker Faire - it's generally crazy and these people are eccentrics.
- The second thing you notice - they want to include everyone in the crazy so there is stuff for all ages and levels of knowledge and competence.
- The third thing - even the recluses (how few they are) and shy (a lot less few) want to engage with you and show their craziness as this is a comfortable and safe environment for them, they come out of their shell.(1)
Needless to say Tom was fully in his environment and I went from slightly lost and bemused, an initial state i have most of the time, to fully engaged in less than an hour. One of the most fun parts was the mornings wander around the stalls talking to a lot of very interesting people who were happy to share their passion. The problem was there wasn't enough time to talk to all of them. But in about two hours I had made an LED lantern, been digitally plotted and drawn by a mobile phone that controlled a drawing robot and been the subject of a click challenge (which Tom beat me at).
The afternoon went even more sideways to what I imagined. I started by trying to help man the Manchester maker's display. Then I did a little soldering (a newish skill for me), and was instantly conscripted into showing the general public how to solder and make Maker badges as well. So from neophyte to instructor in one easy 'you did it so show it' step.
I could probably go on enthusing about the event at some length and I especially want to give focus to some of the people/projects I saw at the event. For that reason I am running a series of companion pieces on my personal blog at www.markekating.me.uk so you will see some bits about the faire there.
For now, sit back and enjoy the videos I made that do not even begin to highlight enough of the fun, weird, awesome and general crazy:
(1) So I am using the third person a lot, however it is just a product of writing not to separate myself from the crazy eccentrics, I'm generally considered well past the eccentric stage myself, and dotty-enthusiastic-bungler-geek is an epithet I likely mirror.