MASHPEE – You can’t make this story up. Why would you? But you can make almost anything else because, Why not? That was the message from several makers at the Cape Cod Mini-Maker Faire this weekend at Mashpee High School.
“This is science fair meets crafter meets do-it-yourself hobbyist, with a robotic competition thrown in for good measure,” said Jerry Thiboutot, a board member of the Cape Cod Makers, a 20-person group interested in creating.
The event, organized this year by Mass Hire, had about 40 makers showing their wares, said Kara Galvin, assistant director for Mass Hire.
It was the kind of event where one is liable to see a fuzzy fox walking past robot competitions; an old Philco radio rigged with computers; golf clubs turned into duck decoys, and more. There was even a race car.
But start with the fuzzy fox. Inside the pink creation named, Meo, was a 10-year girl from Rhode Island named Izze. Izze was on Cape Cod with her father, Chad, who declined to give his last name. Her father is an industrial designer. They were visiting, she said, “Uncle Jerry.” – Jerry Thiboutot of the Makers.
Izze said the fox suit that she made and was proudly wearing took her two weeks to create using foam, duct tape, plastic wrap, and more, and then sewing the fur. She said she has always enjoyed making things.
“I started out making tiny houses out of cardboard for my toys. I also really like art. And I really like foxes,” she said.
“She also does stop-motion videos and claymation,” said her father.
This costume was originally made as a Halloween costume, said Izze.
She wears the costume all the time. “She wears it like it’s Halloween every day,” said her father. And then she put her fox head back on and they wandered off.
Meanwhile, Doug Butler of Centerville was trying to recruit people to join a combat robot league. Butler, an electrical engineer with a long career working on underwater robots, once thought of building a submarine to go around Martha’s Vineyard.
Instead, he has a fledgling combat robot league in which “the challenge is sort of like a rock, paper, scissors puzzle… I build a robot and then I build another robot to defeat it.”
Butler was looking for people to collaborate on the robot building and then to compete. “It’s more of a collaboration than a competition,” he said.
Jesse Craig, treasurer of the Makers, said that Makers as a group are ultra collaborative. “We get together and solve each other’s problems. We get different skill sets to work together,” said Craig.
At the other end of the gymnasium was Nate Kennedy, AKA Nifty Nate of Nifty Nate’s Computer Store in Hyannis.
Kennedy brought along several old computers from his “computer museum” that he has in the store.
Some were hooked up to modern technology, including one that was originally powered by a computer the size of a large room was now powered by something just as powerful in the size of a deck of cards. It puts time and technology in perspective, he said.
“Nobody sees this stuff anymore, said Kennedy of the computers on display.
As he talked, he was standing next to an an old Philco radio that he and several others refashioned with computers and more to make it still look authentic, with the tubes and all, but also to be, as Kennedy said, “an open hardware concept.”
“We do it because it’s fun to explore technology in ways that it is not sold to us,” said Kennedy. “Why stuff an old radio full of computers? There’s no practical reason,” he said. So the answer is, he suggested, “Why not?”
It was all very interesting; seemingly worth money to someone, somewhere.
Thiboutot said, “We get asked often if we will make something for money. Our answer is why don’t you sign up and we’ll do it together.”
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