Smoking solder at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire

Despite being rather involved with the Brighton Digital Festival this year, the entire first week of September went by without me attending a single event. At the weekend, finally with some free time on my hands, I attended the Mini Maker Faire.

Now three years old, the Mini Maker Faire is an eclectic mix of old-timey craftsmanship and bleeding-edge technology. The only condition you must satisfy in order to exhibit is that you must be a “maker” – i.e. someone who makes something. Due to this gloriously broad brief, there are all kinds of projects on display. Everything from finger-painting to 3D printing was on the agenda this year.

A tiny model of BBC journalist Bill Thompson is slowly printed

Being part of the Digital Festival, there was an obvious leaning towards the technical end of the creative spectrum. The above photo is of the fantastic Break The Mould, a project which scans people and then prints tiny replicas of them. Although 3D printing was definitely de rigeur at the Maker Faire this year, it’s hard to think of it as anything but rudimentary. The team behind Break The Mould were lamenting how long each print takes (3-4 hours), and how they had to reset the printer every time it was jostled by an excited child. To see it so enthusiastically embraced while still in such an embryonic state, though, tells you a lot about the potential here. The next ten years of 3D printing are going to be fascinating.

Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the Faire’s craft-meets-tech aesthetic than this exhibit – a knitting robot.

Knit, knit, knit!

The robot’s creations – scarves – were available for sale once finished (“Hand-knitted by a robot”) for £20 each.

The dire state of the digital curriculum in schools is often lamented these days, so it was great to see so many children in attendance. This was definitely the type of event that adults and kids alike could enjoy, and the number of parents getting their hands dirty seemed at least equal to the children taking part.

The best part of the Mini Maker Faire – for me at least – is the kitsch built-in-a-shed appeal of most of the exhibits. The knitting robot is obviously hacked together from discarded shop mannequins, and Break The Mould used shop-bought Kinect sensors to scan participants who wished to be printed.

It’s the kind of event that makes you want to turn your spare room into a workshop, and lock yourself in for two days to see what you can build. Brighton is often talked about as a city with strong arts and technology scenes – the Mini Maker Faire is the glorious coming-together of these two disciplines.


Have a look at the rest of my photos here – and book your ticket to next year’s event as soon as you can.

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