Maker Faire Milwaukee 2017!

Maker Faire Milwaukee 2017

We’re excited to announce that Maker Faire Milwaukee will be back in 2017, and we’ve even got a date confirmed. Mark your calendars now for September 23 & 24, 2017!

We hope you’ll join us for our fourth year of Maker Faire Milwaukee, and look forward to bringing together makers of all kinds in the spirit of sharing and learning from each other.

If you want to keep up-to-date with announcements about the event, please sign up for our mailing list.

The World’s Largest Doodle!?

World's Largest Doodle*

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most awesome. Ben Nelson applied as a Maker with the name D.I.Y. Dad and Friends and wanted to have something at Maker Faire titled “World’s Largest Doodle*” and it turned out amazing.

Ben’s got a great write-up on his blog about it. In a 20’x20′ booth he covered the floor with paper and provided 800 crayons for kids and adults to have some fun making drawings, doodles, art, or whatever.

The one suggestion we had for Ben’s project was to point a time lapse camera at it, so we could see it fill in over time, and he did just that. Here’s a video from the first day.

*Disclaimer: As Ben notes, this may not be the “World’s Largest Doodle” but it is the largest Doodle we’ve had at Maker Faire Milwaukee. Of course there’s always next year. 🙂

Another Successful Field Trip Friday!


One of our primary goals as producers of Maker Faire is to highlight making in education and to engage disadvantaged children and families in our community in the Maker Movement. Field Trip Friday is a special opportunity for students to see and experience Maker Faire Milwaukee before it opens to the public.

2015 was our first year promoting this effort. Last year for Field Trip Friday we had 7 makers there with hands-on activities and demos, sharing their skills with 75 students. It was a great first effort.

In 2016 we were a bit more ambitious, and gathered 17 makers willing to share with the 244 students who came through the doors on Friday. That’s more than twice as many makers and over three times as many students!

We’d like to continue the efforts in 2017, and we’ll be looking for makers and volunteers to help expand the program. If you’re interested in getting involved, please join our mailing list to keep up-to-date as we start planning. If you’d prefer to get in touch with us directly just email


Thanks for 2016!

Thanks! 2016

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

A big round of applause and a huge thank you to all the makers, speakers, workshop leaders, volunteers, attendees, and robots at Maker Faire Milwaukee!

This year we had over 250 makers willing to share their projects and their passion with our enthusiastic attendees!

We hope you were inspired by what you saw, and left Maker Faire with the desire to learn new skills, and make new things.

From the staff and volunteers at Maker Faire Milwaukee, thanks again, and we’ll see you next year! (In the meantime, if you want to be alerted to any maker-related events in the near future, or just want to know about the next Maker Faire before everyone else, sign up for our email list!)

Meet the Speakers – Roger Tokars

Roger Tokars

We’re excited to announce that Roger Tokars from NASA will be speaking at Maker Faire Milwaukee. You’ll have two chances to hear his talk, Saturday at 4:45pm and Sunday at 11:30am. The speakers will be presenting on the second floor of the Expo Center. (Look for the steps going up in the main entrance of Hall A.)

Here’s a description of Roger’s talk:
Roger Tokars will talk about the massive algae blooms affecting the Great Lakes region. The need to monitor the lakes for toxic algae in those water. The development of a hyperspectral imager system for the monitoring efforts. The future plans of hyperspectral imagers for manned aircraft, satellites, and unmanned aerial systems.

Roger Tokars received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 2007 and M.S. in Physics from Cleveland State University in 2013. He has been with NASA GRC for more than 10 years, with much of that time spent on hyperspectral imaging systems. He has flown numerous aircraft missions monitoring the toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. He was lead designer for a new wide field of view hyperspectral imager that was built and tested this year for the S3 Viking aircraft. He was also the lead designer for a new low weight and compact hyperspectral imager that was built and tested this year for an unmanned aerial vehicle, the Nova N6500 by Altavian.

Meet the Makers – A Creative Medley

A Creative Medley

Tell us about yourself.
My business name pretty much sums me up – A Creative Medley – what that really means is “I can never quite decide what I want to make on any given day and that covers a lot of options” On a day to day basis, you’ll find me with my kids – technically homeschooling, but not necessarily at home. In between math lessons and driving to the next activity, my mind is tossing around how to make my next new kind of design possible. I create the designs that people load onto their computerized embroidery machine to stitch a project.

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
“In the hoop” embroidery is kind of an odd term, because really, all computerized embroidery is done using a hoop that attaches to the arm of the embroidery bed. “In the hoop” is a subset of embroidery. These are 3-D projects that are made entirely on the embroidery machine, rather than using embroidery to embellish something that is already made. Instead of just putting a name on a stocking or a baby bib, I make the entire stocking or bib on the embroidery machine. Most projects require hand sewing a small hole closed at the very end, but otherwise do not involve a regular sewing machine or hand sewing. The entire process is completed “in the hoop”

A Creative Medley

What is something you’ve made that you are most proud of, and why?
The embroidery digitizing industry is full of very creative and clever people, so it is hard to create something that is truly original. I created a line of stuffed animals that have an egg shaped body and can be completely folded into an egg and then opened to show the full animal. I literally had the idea rolling around for years, but couldn’t figure out how to do it entirely on the embroidery machine. The day I figured out how I could make it all work was incredibly exciting.

Why do you consider yourself a Maker?
I love the term Maker because it is so self-defined. I never thought I could be an artist because I couldn’t draw or paint. I loved crafts as a kid – making friendship bracelets or potholders – but at the time I didn’t realize that it was part of who I am. As an adult I discovered quilting, so I was a quilter, then I started sewing, so I was a seamstress, as I added more hobbies (too many to count!) the labels piled up, but what it all boils down to is “I am a Maker” I make stuff, I have to, it is who I am.

A Creative Medley

Tell us about one of your failed projects.
Some of the failures end up being the most entertaining. Converting a line drawing into a 3D object sometimes makes “unique” looking projects. I have quite a collection of mutant stuffed animals that had to go back for some design tweaking.

What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
My guess is, if you want to be a Maker, you probably already are one. My now 13 year old daughter came away from last year’s Maker Faire in Milwaukee and told me “I want to be a Maker.” She already liked making clay creations and drawing and had dabbled in knitting a bit. To me, the only thing she had to do to be a Maker was to decide that she is. My advice would be to look around your environment – what excites you, makes you want to learn more? You probably have the tools for some kind of creating on hand already if you look carefully. The Maker Faire is an incredible resource to connect with people who make things you haven’t tried yet. Odds are, if they are presenting, they are happy to share and help others learn more about getting started.

For more info check out the 2016 profile page for A Creative Medley.

Meet the Makers – Scott Fradkin

Scott Fradkin

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Scott Fradkin. I’m a team lead and developer for a consulting company based in Sun Prairie named ​Flexion​. I teach Scratch programming to kids in my local school district. I also volunteer by leading free programming workshops for a program called Kids GET IT which was created by a local Madison company named ​Adorable​. I create music under my own ​name​ and the pseudonym 1​7.2m​ and post the occasional live coding videos to ​YouTube​. I also like to give talks and workshops about live coding music, links to which can be found on my ​website​. Getting kids and adults excited about programming is what I like to do and music is a fun way to create that excitement. I’m very slowly creating an application called Snap Music​ that can be used to teach young kids how to program and create music at the same time.

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I will be giving a talk about live coding in general and I will show a few different live coding environments including my Snap Music project. I will also be leading two workshops. One workshop on creating music with Sonic Pi and another on creating music with TidalCycles.

Scott Fradkin

What inspires you to make?
I listen to a lot of music which gives me many ideas of strange music that I want to make. The power of live coding languages allows me to express those ideas. Through my use of Sonic Pi and teaching Sonic Pi workshops, I was inspired to create Snap Music to bring the joy of music and programming to even younger kids.

What is something you’ve made that you are most proud of, and why?
It’s a work in progress, but ​Snap Music​ has so much potential. I’m happy to create something that may be able to get kids interested in both making music and coding. I’ve enjoyed making something that will hopefully have a positive effect on the world.

Scott Fradkin

Why do you consider yourself a Maker?
For the longest time I never really considered myself a Maker. I’ve come to realize that even though I’m not making physical or tangible things, the music I create and the applications I write are just as much Making as anything else.

If you plan on attending one of Scott’s workshops (Making Music with Sonic Pi or Making Music with TidalCycles) bring your own laptop so you can follow along and get the most out of it. You can also download and install Sonic Pi and TidalCycles if you want to start exploring on your own.

We’ve got a Schedule!


You’ve been asking for it, and now we’ve got it… The schedule for 2016 is now live!

While a few things might change here and there, we’ve got it mostly nailed down, so check out the schedule and start making note of what you want to see. There’s Workshops and Speakers, and some of the All Day activities. There’s a few other surprises in store, but we’ll also be providing you with a printed schedule at the event. (And don’t worry, we’ll keep the web site up-to-date as well!)

BAM’s Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

What is a Camera Obscura?
A Camera Obscura exhibits the natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene is projected through a small hole in a wall as an inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening. This is similar to how a “pinhole” camera works. Camera Obscura with a lens in the opening have been used since the second half of the 16th century and became popular as an aid for drawing and painting. The device was developed further into the photographic camera early in the 19th century.

Camera Obscura

The Be A Maker space at Betty Brinn Children’s Museum has built a large Camera Obscura, and they’ll have it at Maker Faire. During open making sessions in August, visitors to the museum helped construct a large light-proof plywood room in the middle of the BAMspace. By placing a small lens and pinhole on one side, the room was transformed into a camera obscura.

Camera Obscura

Learn more about BAM’s Camera Obscura or read about the history of the Camera Obscura.