Making at the Maker Faire

I spent this past weekend at the 2011 World Maker Faire, a massive DIY festival held on the original site of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens. Maker Faire celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the do-it-yourself mind-set, which means tons of hacks and how-tos. My favorites! I learned how to solder for a dollar, watched a life size mouse trap, listened to musical art robots, coveted laser cut felt jewelry, and gawked at MetroCard Man.

The highlight of the fair may have been learning how to knit in 20 minutes. Seriously, in less than a half hour I was transforming a ball of yarn into rows of stitches!  (Full disclosure: I still need to learn how to cast on, but I can do a mean knit stitch.) An entire area was devoted to fiber arts instruction where anyone could learn how to embroider, cross-stitch, knit or crochet.  You simply told a volunteer what you wanted to learn, they grabbed a few starter materials and sent you on your way to a craft expert.  I had a one-on-one lesson with a woman who owned a yarn store for ten years. She was so great. I was knitting all the way home.


learn to knit

Yarn over
Yarn Over Knitting Letterpress Linocut Print by PS Press

And here’s another knitting-on-the-subway illustration by Sophie Blackball, a Brooklyn-based artist who recently completed a project illustrating a collection of Craigslist Missed Connections postings. These fleeting love stories are painted  in Chinese ink and watercolor.  I love them!

girl knitting on subway train
Knitting Girl on 7 Train to Sunnyside

audible accessories

A typical music cassette stores about 300 feet of tape! Sadly, I have probably trashed miles of tape over the past decade.  Sound artist Alyce Santoro held onto her mixed tapes and invented sonic fabric,a textile woven from 50% cassette tape and 50% polyester thread. You can actually listen to the sounds embedded in the fabric! (Here’s how to make a sonic fabric reader from an old walkman.) Check out these sonic wears.

sonic fabric swatch close up
sonic fabric necktie
sonic fabric necktie
sonic fabric bowtie
sonic fabric fedora
sonic fabric clutch

DIY music video props

Over the summer, I helped a very talented friend/director/cinematographer Paul Yee  with a music video he directed and produced for the Japanese punk band Peelander-Z. The video “Mad Tiger”  is part live-action lolcat and part kiddie show weirdness. I made the Peelander-Z dolls (P-Green, P-Yellow, P-Pink and The Squid) that are viciously attacked by a mad tiger, known in real life as Cobi the cat.  The prop budget was limited, so I used scrap fabric for the bodies, buttons for the eyes, and catnip and cotton balls for the stuffing.

Peelander-Z doll - before & after

Did I mention the karaoke subtitles?

Peelander-Z video stills
screen grabs from "Mad Tiger" music video

Paul has done some amazing camera work for other music videos, independent films and commercials.  Check out “Moves” (The New Pornographers) and “Bottled in Cork”  (Ted Leo + Pharmacists).