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Make this! 

Maker Faire goes mini with techno know-how and can-do spirit


A 17-foot-tall electronic giraffe, a human-scale mouse trap in the style of Rube Goldberg and a variety of steam-punk contraptions and homemade get-ups were just some of the fantastically crafty and technological sights to behold at Make magazine's 2009 Maker's Faire, held in San Mateo this past May. Though lacking ambulatory robotic land mammals, that same spirit of innovation and DIY know-how is coming to the North Bay in the form of the Mini-Maker Faire Series at Copperfield's Books.

Mini-Maker attendees can gain handy knowledge on everything from outfitting a bike with solar panels to making T-shirts with blinking LED screens to the mysteries of felting and to raising the healthiest chickens possible. Special guests will include such hands-on advocates as Dustin Zuckerman of the Santa Rosa Tool Library, permaculture specialist Terrie Miller and LineDry founder Laura Shafer, whose organization promotes the lost art of using clotheslines.

Since its first event in 2006, the Sebastopol-based Make has sponsored six large-scale Maker Faires in all: four in the Bay Area and two in Austin, Texas. The gathering of crafters, tinkerers, techies and slow-culture enthusiasts seems to be only gathering more steam. This year's San Mateo fair brought over 1,600 makers and craftspeople and 78,000 attendees, a 20 percent growth from the previous year.

"They're so wildly successful because attendees get to meet makers," Maker Faire director Sherri Huss says. "The real secret sauce to Maker Faires is the makers. They're there because they are really passionate about what they do and like sharing it. People enjoy interacting with other people to learn how to do something new."

The make-it-yourself movement is growing. Huss explains that she gets all kinds of emails asking her how they can bring a Maker Faire to Cedar Rapids or Oshkosh. Thus, Maker Faires are going mini, visiting not only bookstores in Sonoma County but locales around the world; a student group plans to hold one in Ghana this year.

"It's a great way to open you mind, engage with community and learn to make something," Huss says.

The Mini-Maker Faire Series provides the materials and the know-how starting Saturday, July 11, at 11am at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma. 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma. Ongoing through Aug. 8 in Healdsburg, Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Free. 707.823.8991.

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