Posts tagged ‘crafts’

September 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Maker Faire

by Farah

Photos: woman weaving bracelets in the crafts area and a deer (moose?) head I assembled from laser cut cardboard pieces in the NYU/ITP tent. A few more photos here.

Like others have mentioned, there was so much going on at the Maker Faire that it was hard to pick and choose what to partake in. Since part of my interest in this class is to be more hands-on with DIY experiences, I decided to go in with an open mind and just be up for trying new things. Deb wrote a little bit about our experience with the free knitting class. We got a quick lesson from some hilarious, sassy older women who have been doing needlework for a long, long time. One of the main things I came away from that lesson and the Faire as a whole with is that whether you’re knitting, making your own biodiesel, or hacking electronics, DIY projects are a lot of fun, but they also require incredible patience, commitment, and practice.

I managed to cast on and knit a few rows of stitches under the guidance of my instructor Helen. In my opinion, my rows were looking a little shabby, but Helen had me stop after each one and say out loud, “Damn, I’m good!” before checking if I had made any mistakes. When learning a new skill with your hands, it’s frustrating when you’re trying really hard but can’t figure out how to release the muscle memory of something you’re used to doing, like typing or writing. Once you start getting the hang of it though and allow yourself enjoy the play of making something instead of approaching it solely as work, it becomes a lot easier. I think that Helen’s point about taking a moment to express confidence and pride in your work is something that applies to all forms of DIY. No matter the field, everyone was a beginner at some point, and you can’t move forward if you only focus on what you’ve done wrong.

It was also great to see so many kids and their parents there, especially with all we’ve been reading about early childhood development and education. However, while we were watching Mousetrap Live, Nitin made a good point that as diverse as the attendee demographics appeared to be, the one group that seemed to be missing were the families who actually live in the neighborhood. I tend to have this idealistic view of DIY as equal opportunity: people from all ages and walks of life can learn a new skill by doing. In reality, events like the Maker Faire can tend to attract a largely white, upper-middle class crowd unless the organizers make a conscious effort of reaching out to people outside of that demographic. That’s something I think we should be cognizant of as we continue to look at other DIY initiatives.

All in all, I’m glad to have gone to the Maker Faire and I look forward to more enriching DIY experiences!