Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, education, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, food, Solar and Alternative Energy

Feedback from Maker Faire

All the news that’s fit to print about this past weekend’s adventures at Maker Faire, San Francisco 2009:

A video from GeekDad:

From SF Weekly:

Burning Man regulars were there, of course, from Acme Muffineering with their giant bicycle-powered cupcakes, to the visionary techies responsible for daring to imagine the Electric Giraffe, a 1700-pound, 17-foot-tall, skeletal replica of everyone’s favorite zoo attraction. Also on the local freak front, pyromaniac Charles Gadeken (of Flaming Lotus Girls fame) torched the hell out of an outsized rusty blossom, while the mad scientists of Steampunk and Kinetic Steamworks brought their trademark machine sculptures to life via the power of very hot air.

On the geek side, countless robot fetishists dazzled the event’s 70,000 attendees with a range of inspired creations, from life-like facsimiles of R2-D2 and that “Danger, Will Robinson!” character from the ’60s TV classic “Lost in Space,” to an absurd parrot named Ethel that danced around like a Christmas-gift reject to bad music blaring from blown speakers. Bay Area Tankers, out-of-shape old guys who like to maneuver their remote-controlled Sherman tanks through homemade minefields, could not compete with the Western Warship Combat Club, a group of boyish men who used to bomb model ships with firecrackers in their youth. At Maker Faire, they staged fun-loving war games between the Allied and Axis naval fleets for a capacity crowd packed onto bleachers around a sizeable pool. The excited emcee gave us an NHL-style play-by-play as the ships gunned for each other with mini canons that shot ball-bearings. Whenever a vessel went down, we’d get an earful: “Oh, my goodness! Oh, the carnage! Oh, the humanity! Holy mole!” We left before a victor was declared.

Good times!

The cupcake and muffin cars definitely seemed to be a hit; they’re listed in a lot of write-ups (from Design News):

The cupcake and muffin cars are the brainchildren of Lisa Pongrace and Greg Solberg, who originally developed the concept for the Burning Man event in 2004. The electric vehicles employ 24V motors and deep-cycle marine batteries. They can go as fast as 15 mph. Each car is just large enough to hold one person, with the person’s head sticking up through the cupcake or muffin top. The wheels are not apparent on the low-slung vehicles so they look more like air-cushion or anti-gravity vehicles. The cars’ cupcake-tin body is formed from accordion-folded 26-gauge galvanized sheet steel and the cupcake or muffin top is made from chicken wire, batting and fabric. The cars cost $500 to $1500 to make and there are currently about 16 of them. Many are stored at a “secret” facility in Berkeley, CA. Pongrace’s car is styled as a blueberry muffin and she scoots around in it wearing a large fabric blueberry for a hat.

Keep on making!



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

One thought on “Feedback from Maker Faire

  1. I found very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. keep it that way.

Comments are closed.