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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Making a statement: Crowd celebrates spirit of creativity at library's Maker Faire

Published 8:23 pm, Saturday, April 26, 2014

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  • A group sets to making things the old-fashioned way -- using hammers -- at the Mini Maker Faire on Saturday at the Westport Library. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Fairfield Citizen
    A group sets to making things the old-fashioned way -- using hammers -- at the Mini Maker Faire on Saturday at the Westport Library. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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The crowd that converged Saturday afternoon clearly agreed the Westport Library has "made" something special.

The third annual Mini Maker Faire was expected to attract several thousand visitors by day's end for a showcase of invention, creativity and just "making stuff." Dozens were on hand to share their skills and expertise -- both for fun and profit -- all built on the theme of doing things yourself, whether high tech or practices that are generations old.

"It's really to let people see that they can do and make things," said Mark Mathias, Board of Education member who helped create the faire and bring it to life. "To a great extent we've been a consumer economy and this really shows people that they can do things they never thought were possible."

At booth after booth, people demonstrated that the near impossible was a reality for those who like to tinker, to create and put their minds to making things work.

"I like being able to show people what I've made, and see what other people have made and get ideas too," said Blythe Serrano, 11, of Norwalk. She created a pair of electricity-generating cyber boots, which have a built-in step counter and light sensors, and are powered by mini solar panels.

"It's just a lot of fun," said Rick Eason, 14, of Westport, a young artist who makes solder sculptures.

"Everybody's doing a lot of cool things," he said. "It's a great thing to be a part of."

People of all ages were showing their stuff, including robots that flew, fought and threw an enormous rubber ball, nearly breaking one photographer's camera. Creations came in all guises and fashioned from all materials, including old-fashioned wood-and-nail creations, paper, plastic and steel, to complicated fusing of technologies that did everything any maker could dream of.

"I'm just inspired by all the other makers here," said Liz Lirakis, who repurposes comic art through her Rhode Island-based business Tracimoc. "I just think it's a great community."

Mary Preston of Wilton said every project she saw at the fair drew her interest. "It's great when you stop and talk to people and they share," she said. "I get hung up on each booth."

Bill Derry, the library's assistant director for innovation and user experience, noticed that this year, "Everybody's getting attention," he said. "People seem to be spread all over at this point, and we're getting a lot of positive feedback."

"People are saying, `I'm so glad I brought my kids, and I'm so glad I'm with them,' " he said.

Mathias said last year the fair drew about 3,500 people. "I think this is a nice size for us," he said. "It's an approachable size."

"It's not our goal to be huge," he said. "Our goal is to be effective, and I think we're achieving that quite nicely."