Road trip recap: A day at Maker Faire Detroit

Attending a Maker Faire has been on my summer bucket list for a few years now, and finally, on Saturday, we traveled to Maker Faire® Detroit to see what it’s all about. Thousands of modern-day makers assembled at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI, to share and to learn, from making speakers from Post-it Notes® to carving eraser stamps. We spent the day soaking in the Maker Faire buzz, and marveling at the sights, both high tech and low tech. Maker Faire offers lots of hands-on activities, especially for kids, and in the end, we just wished that we’d had more time to sit down and make! Here are a few highlights from our day at Maker Faire Detroit.

You know you’re in for a fun day when the first thing you encounter is a roving chocolate cupcake!

Hello cupcake! From Maker Faire Detroit.

Hello, cupcake!

Actually, there were a lot of fancy wheels touring around, thanks to Cirque Amongus.
From a small, wheeled . . . uhm, not really sure what it’s called . . .

Cool wheels at Detroit Maker Faire.

Is this a low rider?

To big wheels.

Maker Faire Detroit: Cirque Amongus.

Hop a ride on one of these!

And a bicycle built for eight. Now, that’s teamwork!

Maker Faire Detroit: Cirque Amongus.

I did not get to ride one of these, but wish I had.

A modern day chariot.

Maker Faire Detroit: Cirque Amongus.

Your Segway awaits!

And a throwback time machine.

Maker Faire Detroit: Time machine

The time machine was designed by a high school robotics team.

If you want to build your own wheels, the Power Racing Series encourages you to build your own, $500 electric vehicle and compete at Maker Faire. Or, maybe you’d like to try drag racing with your power tools? You can do that, too. And then there was this beautiful, mobile dragon.

Maker Faire Detroit: Midway Carnival Parade

Later in the day, this dragon took part in the Midway Carnival Parade.

I’ve been fascinated by 3D printing, and there were numerous opportunities to see 3D printers in action, and talk to the makers behind the machines.

Maker Faire Detroit: 3D printer.

3D printer in action, printing a small, striped octopus.

Maker Faire Detroit: 3D printing.

Both the octopus and Yoda were printed by a 3D printer.

We also stepped inside the Henry Ford Museum® and toured the Dymaxion House, an innovative home built from aluminum, plastic and Plexiglas way back in 1946. It was designed to be a modern, affordable home with no wasted space. Only two Dymaxion homes were built, and the museum combined the two to make one working model. It’s amazing how contemporary it is, and extremely space efficient.

The Henry Ford Dymaxion House

The round, Dymaxion House is held up with suspension wires.

The Henry Ford: Inside the Dymaxion house from 1946.

Inside the Dymaxion house. I could live here!

The museum also has an Oscar Mayer Weinermobile from the 1950s. Classic!

The Henry Ford Museum: Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

It’s a classic — the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

Maker Faire isn’t all about robotics, gaming, engineering and high-tech pursuits, however. It’s also a celebration of handcrafts. When kids have had enough of the high-tech, they can explore old fashion crafts in the “Lost Arts” exhibit.

Maker Faire Detroit: A recycled sheep in the Lost Arts exhibit.

This sheep is part of the Lost Arts exhibit and is made entirely of recycled materials.

We also enjoyed touring the DIYpsi Indie Craft Fair, a mini craft fair of artists from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Hands down, our favorite was the reconstructed books from the Library Lab.

Maker Faire Detroit: The Book Laboratory succulent planters.

The Book Laboratory turned old books into succulent planters.

Detroit Maker Faire: An old book repurposed as a flower vase by The Book Laboratory.

An old book repurposed as a flower vase.

There were two grand finales to the day, at least in our minds. One was watching the World’s Largest Mousetrap, modeled after the Mousetrap board game. This life size “mouse trap” has many of the same features as the game, from bathtubs to pirate ships to levers, pulleys and gears. We watched as a bowling ball traversed the course, triggering a 600-pound weight to fall and crush a car. Now that’s a fun way to teach physics.

Maker Faire Detroit: The World's Largest Mousetrap.

The World’s Largest Mousetrap!

Maker Faire Detroit: World's Largest Mousetrap

A bowling ball triggers the chain reaction that causes this 600-pound weight to fall and crush the car.

You’re familiar with the Coke and Mentos routine, right? Well, multiply that by about 20 for the EepyBird Coke & Mentos Spectacular that wraps up each day at Maker Faire.

Maker Faire Detroit Mentos finale.

The grand finale! (Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford)

And one last Maker Faire memory – fresh and amazing donuts from Detroit Mini Donuts.

Maker Faire Detroit: Detroit Mini Donuts


My daughter is now inspired to make her own computer, and the raspberry pi kit is on her birthday list. How cool is that? And isn’t that what it’s all about? Whether you’re making with a soldering iron and circuits, or burlap and buttons, you’re doing and creating with your hands and your imagination.

From Anchorage to Paris, there’s probably a Maker Faire near you, so think about adding it to your bucket list. Like I said, our only regret is that we didn’t sit down and do more “making.” We were all caught up in the sights and sounds and marveling at all we saw.

Have you been to a Maker Faire? What did you do at Maker Faire?

(Note: When I attended SNAP, I met Lish Dorset who in addition to being a mad crafter and Martha Stewart aficionado, is the social media manager for The Henry Ford. Lish kindly sent to me passes to attend Maker Faire. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Happy crafting.


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8 Responses to Road trip recap: A day at Maker Faire Detroit

  1. Patty S says:

    I LOVE THE SHEEP! looks like you saw a lot of neat stuff!

    • Sharon says:

      I know, isn’t it cool? We did see a lot of neat stuff — and stuff that I didn’t quite “get”. But all very fun! Thanks for stopping in, Patty.

  2. Katiria says:

    WOW that looks like the perfect place for me and my family. We are always making things. Just last week my son saw a safe for sale at a store and he said “I can make one of those”. Sure enough, when we got home he asked his dad to help him saw some pieces of wood that he had measured, then he nailed it together, Made a little door with a lock and then painted it. It looked great! It’s not an exact perfect safe to keep money or anything but it was good enough for him and he was very proud that he made it himself. And we were proud too !
    I’m definitely going to look for a Maker Faire near me.
    Thanks Sharon!

    • Sharon says:

      That is so awesome, Katiria! You really do have a family of makers. If you attend a Maker Faire, be sure to report back. Happy making! Sharon

  3. How fun! The donuts look tasty and the Dymaxion house is awesome!! So many cool things to see. Would love to attend one someday! TFS!

    • Sharon says:

      I bet there’s one near you, Barb, and your grandkids would enjoy it. I’m usually not a donut fan but couldn’t resist this time! Sharon

  4. LisaM6 says:

    WOW! That would be a fun road trip. Lost Art sounds interesting. I will have to see if they have anything like that around here. Inspiration at it’s finest. The doughnuts look tempting. Guess I need to go eat breakfast. LOL

    • Sharon says:

      Check the link above to see if there’s a Maker Faire event near you, Lisa. I believe there are 100 Maker Faires around the country with new ones popping up all of the time. And yeah, those donuts were yummy!

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