There’s a movement happening. You may have participated without even knowing it. Are you a “Maker?”
Who Are They?
It’s pretty simple: a Maker is a person who makes things. It’s really an umbrella term for independent tinkerers. They are do-it-yourself enthusiasts. They are hobbyists and dabblers. They are people who make things for fun. While these people sometimes turn their “making” into businesses, the idea of making generally stays at the homegrown level.
What Do They Make?
Anything and everything! The maker mindset stretches across all areas, covering everything from robotics to fiber arts. While the whole Maker movement really started with a tech-related base, it has really grown into a field that includes just about everything one can make—modified bicycles, up-cycled items, even hand-crafted cheese.
The Forces Behind the Movement
The whole maker revolution has evolved purely out of the interests of those who make or fix things. It’s innately human to want to make things with our hands, to build and to fix, and to see our efforts manifested. It wasn’t too long ago that we fixed things ourselves and were more self-sufficient than we are today, having to always call in an outside source to make or repair something.
It seems the last couple generations have become removed from this broad, general knowledge of equally broad and general subject matter. Families knew how to do minor repairs on cars, home appliances, household plumbing. They also had a working knowledge of sewing, gardening, and canning foods. We moved from a more self-sufficient household to a more consumption-based household.
“I think deep down people are makers, and they want to be or feel self-sufficient,” says Bequi Howarth, show producer of the OC Mini Makers Faire. “The enthusiasm that people are showing for the Maker Movement shows that.”
In 2006, Dale Dougherty launched the first official Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. This past June, the White House held its own maker faire for the first time ever. The maker phenomenon has spread across six of the seven continents, and has attracted the attention and support of major companies like Disney, Google, Home Depot, Intel, Ford, Radio Shack and others.
Making vs. Crafting
All crafters are makers, but not all makers are crafters. Though the line may be thin, there is in fact a difference between making and crafting. Making is simultaneously included in artistic endeavors and set apart from them. “Not that making can’t be considered artistic and vice versa,” Howarth assures. Can making be considered artistic? Absolutely, and it even leads people to the construction of a new definition of “art.” Making goes beyond the stereotypical idea of art—drawings, paintings, sculptures, etc.—and finds artistic value in not only the way something appears, but also in the way something functions. You may not hang robotic circuitry over the mantel in the living room, but there’s something beautiful to be said for the artistic ingenuity in its design.
“Artists are makers, too!” says Howarth. “And so are crafters, and beekeepers, and people who modify cars. Most of all, anyone can do art or be artful by being a maker.”
The Makers in Orange County
Orange County has also jumped on the maker bandwagon. We have our own OC Mini Maker Faire, which has garnered local support from AirWolf 3D Printers, Edtric, and the Beall Center at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, located on the UCI campus.
The Beall Center hosted the OC Mini Maker Faire in 2012 and 2013. “We will be back in the spring of 2015,” promises Howarth, after a faire hiatus for 2014.
The hiatus has allowed for the OC Mini Maker team to strengthen, restructure, and gather new and additional support from the Orange County business community, the county’s school districts, and, of course, its most prized participants—the makers.
Parents + Kids = A Making Extravaganza!
There are lots of opportunities for the whole maker family. Since making has no limitations on age, parents are joining their kids—and kids are joining their parents—on the tinkering fun. While we patiently wait for our maker faire to come back around, the first-ever Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire will be held on October 4, 2014 in Riverside. San Diego will hold its second-ever faire again this coming spring.
But aside from the Mini Maker Faire, Orange County now has three maker spaces that offer classes and provide tools: Edtric and Urban Workshop, both located in Irvine, and the newly opened OC Maker Space in Huntington Beach. If you’re venturing outside the county, check out LA MakerSpace in Los Angeles, MakerPlace in San Diego, and Vocademy in Riverside.
Local making groups include the OC Hacker Scouts and any 4-H group, with more making groups forming often.
Where can you find project ideas? MAKE Magazine is packed with projects for makers of all skill levels, and every summer MAKE hosts the free Maker Camp on Google+. There are also websites like Instructables.com where you can find a variety of projects for any maker level.
The ideas are plenty, the tools are available, and the makers are ready. So how about it? Let’s get to making! M