MASHPEE – Soldering is a life skill. That’s according to Paula Hersey, who is on the Cape Cod Makers board and was one of the organizers of the Cape Cod Mini Makers Faire at Mashpee Middle-High School today. Soldering was just one skill among many on display at the faire, a celebration of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, according to the event’s program. It was all that and more.
Bert Jackson who serves with Hersey on the Cape Cod Technology Council, one of the sponsors of the faire, was the first to suggest I check out the popular soldering table—sponsored by the council—as a place to see children and their parents bonding over sparks of electricity. He was right—kids were deep into soldering and the parents were loving it.
I wanted to see some unusual stuff and it may have been Jackson who tipped me off that one of the exhibitors is a guy from Martha’s Vineyard who makes giant swords. So I was looking for that guy.
But in the meantime, I ran across Scott Anderson at a potter’s wheel, demonstrating to kids how to make pots. Playing with mud—what could be more appealing to kids?
At first I thought the large troughs at the next display were planters and I was thinking I needed one for my garden. But then I realized they were caskets by DIY Deathcare for Makers, a display run by the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern MA. It looked interesting but I wasn’t in the mood to consider a DIY funeral, so I moved along.
It was hard to miss the crowd in medieval gear, who were ubiquitous at the event. They were with the Barony of Smoking Rocks, which had a large display and later went on stage for a dancing and combat demonstration. Ruth Bechtold of the Barony showed me an attractive and practical black and white rope she wove during the faire. The Barony is part of the Society of Creative Anachronism and they set their goal on recreating clothing, food and activities from the years 600 to 1600 a.d.
Kids seemed especially drawn to a robotics competition in an area called Robot Beach Party, which I could not get near to because of the crowds; but not too far away was a 3-D copier making a mini robot and a green screen where kids could perform and see themselves on video, courtesy of Cape Cod Media Center.
In the afternoon, the Cotuit Center for the Arts Ukelele Orchestra, which appeared to have a couple dozen participants, took over the center of the gym and played songs by David Bowie and other hipsters.
Mary-Ann Agresti, an architect based in Hyannis, was displaying an 18-foot cardboard dome, a kind of lodging option for people in Third World countries.
Nearby, girls were wearing pink hard hats and building structures out of those brightly colored wonderfully flexible things I know as pipe cleaners but which Agresti told me are are now called “chenille stems,”—folks, that is what I call marketing.
Theater troupes on hand were the Falmouth Theatre Guild, which is about to open its spring production of “Shrek: The Musical.” More than a dozen cast members turned out to the faire to perform musical numbers on the school’s Victoria Vieira Performing Arts Center stage.
Also performing on stage were members of the The New Classics Company, a theater troupe that operates out of the Guyer Barn in Hyannis and does a weekly improv performance in addition to a season-full of performances.
After looking at all the displays, I finally spotted a guy in medieval garb holding a giant sword above his head. The sword maker, “Irish Mike” Craughwell, watched with what looked like appreciation. That was some big sword.
About half way through the event, I realized I had not seen anyone on their phone. In fact, I had barely seen a phone at all—maybe a parent or two taking photos of their children—but no talking or texting and no children on phones.
I could get used this maker stuff.