By Erin O'Donnell, Founder and CEO of Dovetail Community Workshop
Kids are just so brave. Or maybe just attracted to danger.
On Day 2 of the Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire in August, we reoriented our booth to put our tools out front. They had been set up in the shade, but we realized no one noticed them there. So, we put the compound miter saw on one workbench in front of our booth, and a power drill on another. For a few bucks we offered to let folks make a project of their choice: a simple tealight candle holder or a jewelry organizer, with burlap to hang up your pretty dangly earrings.
And who were our best customers? Kids!
It was great fun to watch a fourth-grade girl run a power drill for the first time. And to see a tween boy hammer together a simple jewelry organizer for his mom. Teach a person -- child or adult -- to use a few simple tools, and the creative wheels automatically start turning in their minds. That's what the maker movement is all about.
What is the Maker Faire?
We were thrilled to be part of this event for the first time. Billed as "part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new," maker faires happen all over the world every year. In 2014, there were 119 independently produced mini faires (including ABQ's) and 14 "featured" Maker Faires -- larger scale events. They include everything from sewing to 3D printing to robotics to welding -- and, of course, woodworking and jewelry-making, which we offered too. We're a bit low-tech compared to the light sabers and apps you find at other booths, but at least our tools are pretty attention-getting.
The best part? Meeting other makers. Here's a sample of some projects made by visitors to our booth:
- A life-size coffin and guillotine -- for Halloween decorations
- Woodblocks for printmaking
- A whole house, made with wood joinery techniques instead of screws and nails
We were inspired by all of them to seek out some new project ideas (maybe not a guillotine, but points for committing to a theme!). Now we have a challenge for you: Build like a kid. Don't be afraid to try something new. It may not turn out perfectly -- this time. But like I tell my own kids, you don't get better without practice and a few mistakes. Or a lot.
We want to see what you're making, so please share! Email us pictures and descriptions of your projects at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us in your Twitter posts at @DovetailCW or on Instagram at @DovetailWorkshop.