Earlier this month, on October 15th, we did our second event as Inky Collective, showing people how to print their own letterpress postcard at the Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire, held at the London College of Communication.
Our first event was for People of Print and was a totally different experience (though both were amazing). Firstly, this time I had several weeks to prepare instead of 24 hours. Secondly, the first event was for a few hours in the evening, this was all day Saturday. Thirdly, the first was a boozy, grown up event, whereas this was adults and children of all ages.
That last point on it’s own made for a thoroughly different day!
Teaching kids to use the printing press was brilliant. Usually adults reach the front of the queue (yes, queues, check us out) and when asked what message they want to print, look like a rabbit in headlights.
Children reach the front and, not only do they know exactly what they want and how they want it (font and layout included), but their ideas are wonderful!
One boy of about seven, named Joe, spent an age painstakingly finding all the little individual letters for the message “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me!”.
His dad frowned. “Um, who’s that for?”
And Joe looked up, all big brown eyes. “It’s for you and Mummy.”
Oh Joe, you little heartbreaker.
Another boy simply wanted his name and a bicycle, and as he walked away I heard him turn to his Mum and sigh “I love it”.
It doesn’t matter how exhausted and inky you are, that kind of response just utterly makes your day.
The downside being kids have no concept of personal space, meaning after I elbowed one child in the face, got another’s hair caught round the press handle, and trod on a few more I had to get quite firm about them standing back (lest I be sued).
We wish we’d had a chance to explore more of the faire as there were some fantastic makers and exhibitors, including Sugru, Makerbot, Arduino, and Small Machines to name but a few (you can see the full list of makers here).
With all that amazing gadgetry on offer I thought we, lowly analogue crafters, would barely get a look in but we were manic from start to finish! People were genuinely excited about what we were doing, and one lady said that we were the main reason she was there!
The press counted 285 impressions, though a few of them will have been practice prints, plus the dial doesn’t always successfully turn so it’s ended up a bit of a shot in the dark.
It certainly felt like at least 285.
A few people asked us, and I thought it’d be worth noting, that we didn’t pay to be there, nor were we paid to be there. The day was about sharing our craft and experience and getting all ages excited about making – and I think that was done in abundance.
That said, it was also amazing exposure for the many start ups in attendance – like us! We were asked plenty of times about commissions and where we sold our prints (we had a few items for sale at the end of the table). We ran out of business cards and we’ve had a number of emails off of the back of it so it was a hugely worthwhile experience.
You can read more about the global Maker Faire events here, dates are available for 2015 in a few countries already.
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