Ingenuity Unbound at the Maker Faire

They not only shot lightning, but they sang.

A Tesla coil | Photo by DaveFrayram via Flickr

The robots are coming. So, too, are the laser cutters, the 3-D printed objects, jewelers, toymakers and, why not, the hand-stitched stuffed animals. The Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire, coming to the Downtown Project’s Learning Village (next door to Container Park) on April 5, is a chance for Las Vegas’ technicians, artisans and craftspeople to show off what kind of clever, artful mischief they’ve been building in the spare room.

Pawel Szymczykowski, who’s producing the event on behalf of the Downtown maker space SYN Shop, puts it best: “Maker Faire is a large, organized show-and-tell.” He describes an all-ages event that will feature “hands-on crafts and MacGyver engineering challenges” in addition to the expected hand-built robots and a Tesla coil.

“It’s a little bit like a craft fair, but instead of having a focus on selling, it’s more about sharing and experimentation,” Szymczykowski says.

The Faire, in just its second year, is an offshoot of larger Make magazine-sponsored events in the Bay Area and New York. But the “mini” designation shouldn’t fool you: Szymczykowski says this year’s Faire will be “larger and more spread out,” reflecting the way that Las Vegas’ maker culture has begun to take root.

“We want to bring makers out of their garages,” Szymczykowski says. “There are a lot of makers in Vegas, working in casino engineering, who have cool projects in their garage. They’re making things for their friends. We’re giving them a showcase to share those things with the larger populace—to show off what kind of art and possibilities [exist here].”

If that’s not enough to get you to the Learning Village on April 5, may we reiterate: They’ll have a Tesla coil on hand. That alone is worth an $8 advance ticket.