Busy hands and minds, making and learning. Measure, mark and fold edges of scrap wallpaper samples to create a decorative box. Pass a shuttle through a loom to weave a unique cloth. A white sheet of paper and some masking tape transform into a rocket that shoots into the sky as far as the eye can see. A day at the local mini-Maker Faire inspired, entertained, and taught valuable lessons of resourcefulness and sustainability.
In line with reminders of Earth Day, many elements of the maker movement honor the Earth and its resources. Sew, upcycle, build, think about where things come from and how they are made. There is great value in adding a personal touch to clothes, accessories, tools, food, furnishings.
From a circle of fabric, needle and thread and a button, we made decorative pins. A few minutes of focused sewing (and confidence-building) encourages picking up a needle and thread at home to mend a garment. Reattach a button, repair a tear, alter clothes to make them fit better.
My son built a fan by wiring up a motor with some batteries; the circuit is complete by pushing down on a paper clip. This directed tinkering experience helps develop understanding of our basic home appliances. Rather than throwing away the old and buying another, we can repair and restore. Order a new part for the vacuum (or replicate one with a 3D printer), figure out the toaster, rewire the lamp!
Everyone passing through the faire took their turn at the ice cream crank and was rewarded with free samples. Cheese-making and bee-keeping are favorites from past Maker fairs. Native plants can be made into teas and jams; harvest yerba buena, wild nettles, California blackberries. Make cider, olives, pickles, lavender sachets.
Try “making” home and garden accents from natural materials: find a beautiful piece of driftwood on the beach to place around a plant in the garden, refinish a stump to create a bedside table, design a suncatcher with shells, rocks, sea glass. Hang bamboo as a windchime.
The first Santa Cruz mini-Maker Faire succeeded in creating a community space to inspire, share ideas and gain skills. May we all be mindful of materials and choices (do you need to buy something or can you make it or repurpose something else?), resourceful (can you repair it instead of throwing it out?) and handy (be useful and creative) to make Earth Day everyday!