This weekend I spent the day demonstrating at the Tieton Mini Maker Faire. The event was put on by Mighty Tieton or maybe Tieton Arts and Humanities or maybe Yakima Maker Space. All these entities are apparently related, but looking for which is the head and which the tail, leads one on a twisting and ultimately frustrating tour of intertwined websites and Facebook pages. Also my computer is excessively slow lately and trying to fix it makes me want to hit things.
Anyway, Maker Faires are associated with Make Magazine and the one in Tieton was the first on this side of the Cascades in Washington. The Faire went on all day at the Mighy Tieton warehouse and the Faire and related exhibitions overtook something like 7 rooms in the warehouse as well as space outside. The "Trimpin" and "Salsa" exhibitions were open during the Maker Faire and the Goat Head Press areas were open with people apparently demonstrating printmaking techniques.
|my minimal setup (incidentally, has anyone found the lily I left outside in the rain in Tieton when we packed up?)|
The Maker Faire is different from a craft fair, in that the goal is not to sell work but to demonstrate techniques and show people how or what you make. The faire is mostly educational and community building, though some people had work for sale. Admission for kids was free and the interview in the Yakima Herald the next day suggested that the event was about teaching kids and showing kids how to be makers. There were a lot of hands-on activities for kids, but the makers weren't told it was going to be for kids and weren't required to have kid activities. I picked my project because I thought it was interesting, but it was way too complex for kids to do. In fact, it took me several hours to complete one piece. I didn't even quite finish the four pieces I was working on during the day.
|my workspace in Tieton|
Kids kept asking at my booth if they could "make one" and I ended up letting kids press wet clay into sprig molds while I worked. A few people watched me for a while, but most people, kids and adults, just stopped briefly or wandered past. My favorite visitor was a pre-school aged girl. She came with her mom and brother and she asked to make one. I helped her with a sprig mold and she proved to be quite dextrous for one so young. She popped the clay right out of the mold. Then she asked to make another. it was towards the end of the day, so after she made a few sprigs, I gave her a hollow clay ball that was extra and let her attach some sprigs. She really enjoyed it. Her mother said she really gets into doing this sort of thing, so I sent them away with a little bag of clay and some suggestions for other things to try at home.
|clay sprig decorations and their mold|
Besides teaching pre-schoolers to form sprigs, my only task was to demonstrate my technique throughout the day. I brought in a work table, some tools and some clay and spent the entire day making my "pea pod" sculptures while people watched (or didn't). I brought a shelf and some finished work so people would know what the pieces looked like later in the process. My space was in a dark, cool room of the warehouse and the work dried very slowly. I made the peas first, shaping and adding sprigs, then I made the pod structure and put underglaze on both the peas and the pods. At this point I had to wait a long time for the wet clay and underglaze to dry enough to put the peas in the pod without smushing the surface.
|underglazed peas awaiting their pod|
|waiting for the race to start|
|this pod just didn't want to dry on the silicone mat|
|my work space at home|
|four (mostly) finished pea pods|
Today I finished most of the work on the pods I started at the Faire. I experimented with some textured surfaces for the exterior of a couple of the pods. It was interesting to work on these pieces with an audience, but I think I prefer my home studio. In Tieton I was limited to only a small box of tools, whereas at home I have drawers full. I also had limited light and limited control over drying speed. I really like to have more complete control over the process.