Maker Faire: The greatest show and tell on earth

Maker Faire Calgary celebrated its sixth annual showcase of artists, engineers, metalworkers, hobbyists, welders, solders and many other local talents Oct. 28-29 in Spruce Meadows.

This movement has been building momentum and attracting attention since it started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, with Calgary jumping on board in 2012.

It’s a celebration of ingenuity and people who are creating unique instruments and fostering individualized talents that are sometimes not seen in many other parts of the world.

Jason Bedard is the executive producer of the Maker Faire in Calgary, Red Deer and Parkland County and works on the production crews in Bay Area, New York and Oakland.

“It’s rewarding. It’s not just rewarding for the attendees or for the exhibitors but also the production team,” said Bedard.

The Faire has been described as the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth” by magazines and news agencies worldwide.

Since the event started coming to Calgary, Bedard has seen growing awareness, more dynamic content and more diversity among the makers and their passions.

Demographically, he said the age group is mostly adults between 25-45, yet every year it is becoming a bit more child-friendly.

Most of the booths do not have any items for sale, and the organizers only allow certain businesses to sell what they are presenting.

“Even if the makers sell at other places, often times they won’t here because they want a different sort of interaction,” said Bedard.

Bedard said that it’s not like other markets where you’re scared that when you approach someone, they’ll try and sell you insurance or something else.

Instead they will likely want to show you something interesting that you might not have seen before, said Bedard.

The projects are predominantly a showcase of what the makers love to do and sometimes they assist others in realizing their project dreams.

Widad Franco came from New York and the talent she chose to exhibit is the art of turning doll’s clothing into life-size dresses for girls and women.

“It’s an interesting way to pick up social trends. It’s a movement, it’s not just an event,” said Franco about Maker Faire.

She believes that people do this just for the love of doing things and that it’s an important event for the economy.

“It’s not a Maker Faire until the R2D2’s arrive,” said Franco.

The organizers of the event have seen some changes over the years, such as the use of laser cutters, which can cut or design different fabrics and materials.

They are seeing less of the 3D printers, which were very prominent in the scene just a few years prior.

Jessica Campbell is one of the many makers who focus their time on cross-stitching.

Most of her projects take between 20 and 40 hours to complete.

She describes this art as the oldest form of embroidery, yet she can do it anywhere, such as while watching television at night.

“It’s time consuming, but not expensive,” said Campbell.

It has grown to the point where there are now 225 Maker Faires hosted yearly, in places such as the United Kingdom, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Barcelona and Washington.

The worldwide project of Maker Faire originated from the editors of Make: Magazine, and it now puts on events in schools as well as camps for the more creative spirits out there.

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Maketober Man: Conredge Dole showcases his wood-work at Maker Faire in Spruce Meadows near Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. From his background of web designing, Dole says he found the need to make things that he could “touch in the physical world.” He created a project called Maketober, where every day of the month he challenges himself to build something new. (Photo by Jessie Foster/The Press)

Conredge Dole is another maker who, in a past life, was a web-designer and craved the opportunity to make something with his own hands.

In light of this, he created a goal for himself, which he called “Maketober.”

Every day of the month he’s pushed himself to make something different with his carpentry skills and objects he could touch in the “physical world.”

“I just got bitten by the bug of making things, it felt so good,” said Dole.

Since then he has been making as much as he possibly can and has been documenting his progress through YouTube videos and online posts.

He even made the tripod on which his camera sits, which he describes as more for aesthetics than practicality.

For more information on Maker Faire projects or how to become more involved with the movement, visit their website at

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Metal Artworks: Christine Pedersen works with metal during Maker Faire at Spruce Meadows near Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. Using techniques called chasing and repoussŽ, she combines bitumen and a malleable metal to produce work showcased in local galleries. (Photo by Jessie Foster/The Press)
About Jessica Foster 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Jessica Foster worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.