With a life-size version of the game Mouse Trap, sculptures that shoot fire, and even people riding around in motorized cupcake cars, the Maker Faire is where you can find everything you could ever imagine making yourself... even if you don't know why you'd ever want to. For the fourth year in a row, the festival in San Mateo, Calif. has filled a local fairgrounds with crazy gadgets, some more practical than others. Here is a list of my top five favorite things I’ve seen so far.
1) The Carnival Mechanique. Put on by the steam team, the Carnival Mechanique is a sort of art and crafts vending area, only instead of vases and paintings, it’s filled with wild masks, goggles, and crazy looking guitars.
2) Thomas Sepe’s Whirlygig Emoto. I had seen pictures and videos of this machine before on the internet, but they just don’t compare to seeing it in the flesh. The Whirlygig Emoto is a vintage motorcycle that has been modified to run on steam power and is covered in exotic looking buttons and flashing lights made to look straight out of 1850’s fantasy.
3) The life-size Mouse Trap. The trap is a huge structure made of materials including bathtubs, bowling balls, and elaborate chain reactions. The people working it were all dressed up in marching band uniforms and making a big show out of their exhibit.
4) Within the expo hall where our booth is set up, there is a pair of Tesla coils about eight feet tall each that go off every hour, shooting dancing purple flagella of electricity at each other, giving off the impression that you’re a mouse in Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory.
5) I think is the coolest thing here at the maker faire is the Neverwas Haul. This Victorian house on wheels is filled with eccentric people dressed in full Victorian garb explaining their mission: to civilize the savage natives of the “new world” in the name of the Hibernian Empire. The maker faire is without a doubt the perfect blend of science and eccentricity, fantasy and electricity.