KC Maker Faire 2017: Bringing Makers and Inventors together

By July 13, 2017General
Make 48 Founder Rich Brull and Director Bob Coulston spoke to us about their experience at the 2017 KC Maker Faire and Maker Faires in general. They explained that Maker Faires are a great place for inventors and makers to come together, they shared some of the highlights of this year’s event in KC, and discussed the experience of attending MakerFaire while representing Make48!

What is Maker Faire?

Rich describes the event as, “a collection of makers in general, including inventors, artists, sculptors and anybody who enjoys making and creating things. It’s a place where creative minds come together. Bob described MakerFaire as “a place of heaven for people who like to make stuff.” and continued, “A lot of the makers present are not for profit- they’re just showing you what they make, which is everything from odd things to commercial goods, crafts… they even have a Barbie jeep race- where they modify and soup up toy jeeps with different engines. Generally it’s safe but I’ve seen one catch on fire. It’s like a big party for makers. There’s many people in fun crazy outfits and people on stilts.”

Make48 Director Bob Coulston at KC Maker Faire 2017

On Inventors and Makers

Rich explained that at a Maker Faire you often come across two creative types: the inventor and the maker.

“They’re both creative. The difference is often the inventors are more entrepreneurial, looking for ways to modify ideas and creations. They see a problem and they can create a solution to capitalize on, think of a way to solve it, but very often they don’t know how to make what they dream up. But makers do.

With makers, on the other hand, you see incredible creativity, but they seem to be mainly driven by a passion for making, with no intention to ever sell, giving a lot away, and having an open-source mentality. In the Bay area Maker Faire, for example [the biggest in the country according to Bob, boasting about 200,000 attendees],  you see things like a huge metal dragon the size of a semi truck that breathes fire- you know, literally shoots fire out of its mouth and you just know they’ll never sell that thing. It’s just there because they wanted to make it. For some people, it’s tough to believe that someone would spend a year of their lives making that thing and spending all that money. But they do it for the love.

I believe the inventors and makers need to come together, they need each other. Inventors need the makers to make the stuff they dream up and makers need to eat. In fact, that’s part of what inspired Make48 back when Curt [Make48 Co-founder Curt McMillan] and I created it. We wanted inventors and makers to come together.”

Bob agreed with Rich’s line of thinking, stating, “Like Rich always says, Make48 feels like a good place for inventors and makers to cross over. They need each other.”


KC Maker Faire 2017

Being from KC, Rich and Bob both enjoy that this Maker Faire, in particular, allows them to connect with old friends that are in the same industry. One particular display that both Bob and Rich noted as a highlight from this year’s KC Maker Faire was the addition of a blacksmithing booth, “the new thing from this one that they haven’t had before is blacksmithing, forging and that kind of stuff” said Rich, “so I went  over to talk to the blacksmith and he’s holding some classes. So me and my son are going to start taking blacksmithing together, we’re going out to this guy’s farm and learning how to do it.”

Check out Startland News’ article about 5 creators and innovations from this year’s KC Maker Faire below.

Repping Make48 

According to Rich, attending Maker Faire representing Make48 was awesome (his words!), “Make48 is growing and there are a lot of people learning about it. So we had a lot of people coming up to us and saying, you know, I’ve heard a lot about this, tell me more. And then I would explain about Make48 and our mission of bringing inventors and makers together. I think people really understood that and it led to further interest and awareness.”


Another thing you cannot miss in our Twitter feed from that weekend is the many photos and videos featuring Rich’s modified Adirondack Chairs (complete with Make48 logos). “The lawn chairs got some good attention” explained Rich, “I came up with the idea around the very first Maker Faire, and actually brought the first one I ever made to the first Maker Faire here in KC.  I was in my workshop after a bit of a long day, sitting on the regular Adirondack chair that didn’t move and the beer fridge was on the other side of the shop. I thought: man, it would be great to have beer come to me, or I could just drive over to it. So then I decided to make the power Adirondack chair that drives around. I’ve made more since then and always take them to Maker Faires here and in the Bay area. People love them! Everyone asks me where they can buy them or if I’m selling so I’m thinking they may be a new business for me coming up. They’re a lot of fun, and everybody can drive them”


Bob thinks the chairs are also practical. “The Maker Faire in California is actually really big, so riding in those chairs is the way to go!” Bob also tells us a little bit more about the Bay Area Maker Faire, where apparently the chairs blend in quite nicely with the general style of mobility. “Everyone is riding around on motorized things there, you have motorized cupcakes, and all sorts of motorized animals. People like to throw an electric motor on something and then ride it around”. 


Maker Faire is Family Oriented

Both Bob and Rich discussed the family-oriented nature of Maker Faire, the KC one in particular. “There’s lot of kids”, said Bob, “they had an egg drop contest this year, for example, where they gave kids materials like bags to wrap the egg in and they’d hoist them up and drop them down to see who was able to protect their egg”.

Rich agrees, “Maker Faire is definitely family-oriented, they encourage kids. In fact, my son had his first booth in MakerFaire when he was 10, and he was selling clocks made from re-purposed computer parts. He actually sold a lot here in KC and then started selling them out in the Bay area like crazy as well. They love having kids, they want to teach kids how to make real things and that life is more than just video games and stuff. They want to encourage kids to make stuff that’s tangible and in the real world.” Overall RIch concluded, “I would encourage anybody to go to them.”

Make sure you experience the invention and maker world coming together in the premiere of Make48 Season 1, airing this September on public television! 




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