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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Austin Maker Faire 2008

Maker Faire Austin pedal guitarMaker Faire is billed as the World's Largest DIY Festival - and it's back in Austin for a second time this weekend. Philo gets Make Magazine - he was at the first Austin Maker Faire last year while I worked with the Divas of the Dirt. I'm sure glad I went this time!

Who wouldn't want to see lofty electric guitars played when pedal power spins them past a stationary pick? The kids were lined up for a chance at this 'ride'.

Wind and pedals ruled outside the main building - with Kites flying in the perfect blue sky while one odd contraption after another was tried out in the Bike Zoo - the 80-foot White Snake, hooked-on-bikes and more.

Maker Faire Austin Whitesnake BikeAfter playing the pedal guitar, kids took turns pedaling to spin bike frames around like a carnival ride. Some had trouble getting the rhythm but these two girls made an impressive team.
The New York Times called Maker Faire, "A wondrous thing: the gathering of folks from all walks of life who blend science, technology, craft, and art to make things goofy and grand."

When we went inside the Show Barn we saw an enormous Robot suspended from the ceiling - goofy or grand? Maybe a little of each! This Mantis was one piece of the amazing metal art produced by blacksmiths working on a 1200°F forge. Maker Faire Austin Praying mantis art
One of the cool things at the Austin Modders booth was this computer case. I loved the idea of being able to see inside the computer as it worked. Maker Faire Austin Modders case
The Arts and Crafts included jewelry, bookbinding, scents, bead makers, fabrics, fashion and yarn - did you know there was an Austin Lacemakers' Guild?

It was pretty cool to see replicas of robots from Star Wars at booths

But even cooler to see delighted children turn around and see R2D2 roll up next to them.Maker Faire Austin Kids and R2D2Philo says he comes for the science, technology and art, but I suspect that Fire Plugs shooting Flames may be an even stronger reason.
Actually, I could not resist the Ring of Fire either!
Maker Faire Austin Ring of FireIn the Food Makers area there was actual food to taste, eat and buy (Torchy's Taco's!) and booths for The Green Corn Project, Permaculture, and Organic Landscaping. You can find an array of foods from pastries to hummus to vegan hand-pounded chocolate to the turkey legs enjoyed by these guys, who were kind enough to pose for a garden blogger. My husband wished he'd seen the turkey legs first and joined the Carnivore Club.
Maker Faire Austin, guys eat turkey legs
None of my photos of the wonderful, musical Tesla Coils came out, darn it. I didn't even take photos of the Life Sized Mousetrap game, intricate Lego layouts, the robotic shop tools, innovative musical instruments, art cars, musical groups, Rocket launching guys, the treadle-powered Land Boat, Hula Hoops, Green living exhibits and what for many people may be the main event - a series of RoboGames competitions held in the arena building inside a separate, bulletproof see-through arena with bleachers and announcer on loudspeakers.You have one more chance to get there - Maker Faire continues tomorrow from 10 AM to 6 PM at the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane, Austin, Texas. My plan is to collapse on the sofa with a DVD and rest up for another event tomorrow.

Philo took some video of the Singing Tesla Coils... sooner or later I hope it appears HERE.

If it doesn't show up - or to see all our videos - use this link to Annie and Philo's YouTube Station.

Edited Sunday AM: Here's a look at the Ring of Fire:


  1. Oh my gosh Annie, that looks like SO much fun!

    Hope you're having a restful evening!

  2. Pretty cool Annie, and finally some people who know how to spell Faire!


  3. What a fun Faire. The Shooting fire hydrant is very cool. I would have loved the Giant Mousetrap Game...in my memory it was a great game and lots of fun! Have fun tomorrow! Gail

  4. They really do have everything in Texas! I've never seen antyhing like that, what a fun event. I'm just glad there are no mantids that big around here...

    Carol, may Dreams Gardens

  5. What a cool event! So different from the usual flowers and plants, with metal and sparks and fire! I love the cycles, and the wacky outfits. People should dress like that every day, I think! Reminds me of the Burning Man festival.

  6. When I lived in Texas the all activity was October Fest. Your Faire looks like so much more fun!

  7. Are there any underused superlatives left? I'll just say "Awesome!"

    I bought an issue of Craft magazine (sister to Make) recently - the "can do" spirit combined with imagination is impressive. Has Philo been motivated to make anything from Make?

  8. That would be a COOL place to visit. I love that mantis and bet it is a sight to see.

  9. Wow that is such a cool faire. I really wish I could have the mantis to put in my garden. Do you think it would chase all the bugs away?

  10. I loved it! Now I'll have to travel all the way to Texas just to see this...is it every year?

    thanks for sharing this!

  11. I can see why you were glad you went, Annie! So many interesting exhibits that all ages could enjoy. The ring of fire was pretty amazing, but I'd also like to see the guitars played by "pedal power." That mantis would fit right in my garden, but I think I'd like a little smaller version:)

  12. So funny to see your blog entry, because we spent all day Sunday at Maker Faire and love it. The kids loved it! Our friend was actually one of the guys to make the tesla coils and we just loved it.

  13. What an unusual Faire Annie. No wonder you were entertained.

  14. Wow my husband would die over that event. Looks fab!! And fun.

  15. My kids would have loved this event, and I suspect I would have too. Maybe next year. Thanks for showing us some of the unique creations.

  16. The coolest things happen in Austin! Thanks for sharing the Faire with us.

  17. Wow, Annie, that looks so interesting. I can guess how much your imagination was "fired" by all that you saw. As for me, I think that praying mantis is scary.~~Dee

  18. Hi Garden Linda - it was fun and I needed that rest! Met with Austin Garden Bloggers the next day!

    Maker Faire started in the Bay Area of CA in 2006, Frances so the correct spelling is not a surprise!

    We couldn't get close enough to the Mousetrap game to take photos, Gail, but by now someone must have it on YouTube. The idea of getting Fire from a Fire Hydrant amused me, too.

    Austin and San Mateo are the only locations for Maker Faire, Carol - it's pretty unusual!

    Hi Salix Tree - it was so much fun to people watch at this event - creativity in clothes and looks ran high!

    Once it cools off there are so many events, Tabor - last weekend also had UT Football, the Film Festival, and a Beer & Bicycle Festival!

    Hi Entangled - Philo bought one of the kits but didn't do it yet. I think he reads Make magazine the way we read garden project articles - sharing the wacky ideas of other people.

    The metal work was beautiful, Tina- and it was eye-opening for the kids to see humans work a forge.

    I'm so glad we went, Daphne - and also liked the mantis. It might prefer to squirrels instead of insects ;-]

    Hello Tera Rose - this is only the second year for the Maker Faire - guess we'll have to wait and see!

    Philo put up a short video of the guitars on our YouTube station, Prairie Rose - and the mantis was probably a little under 3-feet tall...would have fit in my garden!

    Hi Piney Woods Brenda - it sure was!

    Oh how cool that you knew some Makers, Bonnie! Philo saw their work last year and knew I'd practically swoon when they started singing. The web is full of Tesla groupies!
    By any chance did you see Bill Murray walking around?

    The concept appealed to me, Lisa at Greenbow and the actual Faire was even better than I'd imagined.

    There was so much going on, EAL - this is just a glimpse.

    Watching the kids tackle the gears was fun, Pam/Digging - bet your family would like it.

    Austin seems to have the right elements for this event, Cindy from Katy - it might be too unwieldy in a larger city.

    I covet that mantis, Dee! It's easier to enjoy fire in a controlled situation, isn't it?

    Thanks for all the comments!


  19. What an incredible array of creations. I liked the robot hanging from the ceiling. It looks as if you had a great time!

    The Ring of Fire video is amazing.

  20. Annie, that looks like so much fun! I think that it reminds me of the wedding I was in this weekend, which kind of had a "steampunk" theme to it, and even the bouquets and such were handmade--we put together metal flowers out of sheet metal and various odds 'n ends, and wired up LED lights to make them light up during the ceremony, even. Very cool--it "fit" the bride and groom so well.

    I'm so amused at the bicycle-powered things here. I've heard talk for years about making things like video games bicycle-powered to help keep kids fit and active... I never realized that there were so many other fun applications for it, but the carnival ride looks like a great time. :)

  21. Hi Annie, did you see this, http://www.boingboing.net/2008/10/22/dust-devil-sends-ten.html?

    Too funny!

  22. I would love that Praying Mantis for my garden!


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