Creative Anachronism and More at the 2017 Maker Faire
By Stephen Beale
Thursday, June 8, 2017
This article originally appeared on sbealeonline.com.
The do-it-yourself spirit runs strong in steampunk culture, so it's no surprise that many projects at Maker Faire had that wonderful techno-Victorian look. One section was devoted to steampunk, but you could find steampunk-inspired contraptions throughout the fairgrounds. Other projects were not steampunk in the strictest sense, but shared a similar sort of creative anachronism.
My favorite project at the 2017 Bay Area event was a steam-powered pencil sharpener from the Oakland-based Kinetic Steam Works. When I remarked to one of the makers that it looked like a steampunk contraption, he corrected me. "We're not steampunks," he said. "We're steam dorks." His point: steampunks may look the part, but his group recreates actual steam-age technology, albeit with 21st century power tools.
Personally, I can admire any work that demonstrates cleverness and creativity, whether it's powered by a steam engine, battery or nothing at all.
Other projects mixed old and new, such as Ramon Yvarra's "Amelia Mouse Piano." Ybarra wrote about the project on Medium, explaining how he converted an old player piano into a MIDI instrument that he could control with a Macintosh.
"Pulse," from Flaming Lotus Girls, is a model of a human heart that emits fire in rhythm to heartbeats. You grab a biosensor mechanism and it starts beating in sync with your heart.
Here's a look at some of the steamy highlights from the 2017 event, plus other projects that caught my eye.
The Steampunk Explorer is an online magazine and resource directory for steampunk enthusiasts and creators. You'll find stories about people, places and events in the steampunk world, as well as guides to retail outlets, museums, galleries, eateries, and other attractions in 36 North American regions, with more to come. We also have several pages of resources for artists, writers, and people with an interest in 19th century history. The site launched in March 2018. Read more. . .