Category Archives: Toronto Makers

Maker Faire Detroit this weekend – and more upcoming Maker events!

Tons of events for seasoned makers, newbies and art lovers! We’re really excited about Maker Faire Detroit – a few of us will even be on hand that weekend. If you recognize any of the Maker Faire team, come and say hello!

Maker Faire Detroit– July 27-28 – Dearbourne, MI

More than 400 makers are bringing their wares, ideas, inventions and solutions to The Henry Ford in Dearbourne. Only a 4 hour drive from Toronto, the maker exhibits promise to be exciting and you get to see the beautiful Henry Ford Museum.

Detroit_MF_2013_logos_Logo2Purchase tickets.

Never Ever Whole Opening Reception – July 26 – Toronto, ON

Presented as the 13th iteration of the annual Emerging Artist Exhibition at InterAccess, Never Ever Whole showcases the work of four emerging artists: Britta Evans-Fenton, Rob Donnelly, Maria Tsylke and Anna Hawkins. Each artist articulates the complicated pursuit of wholeness through a series of divided images, blurred messages, concealed texts and abstract auras. The show will be open from July 26 to August 17.

Britta Evans-Fenton, System Failure (2011) (detail)

Learn more. 

Arduino Total Beginners Workshop at – July 29 – Toronto, ON

This workshop is for total beginners. Eric will show you how to get started with Arduino, the super-friendly microcontroller platform that even artists love. Eric will cover getting the software installed and going, hooking up the Arduino, and a little bit of basic programming, via explanation of the Examples. You too can cut and paste your way to a working project! You’ll need your own Arduino to participate. Space is limited!

Reserve your spot. 

Meet a few of the 2013 Makers!

We have received many great applications for makers so far and we’re excited to announce a few of this year’s maker line-up.

3D Chocolateering, Brian Luptak

bnnfd731b 3D Chocolateering will be showing off the world’s first Chocolate Selective Laser Sintering 3D printer at the Faire this fall! Just when you thought 3D printing couldn’t get any sweeter, a small group of Mechatronics Engineering graduates based out of Waterloo, Ontario have created a 3D printer that can form solid chocolate objects by thermally bonding chocolate powder using 2W 445nm laser sintering.

Toy Hacking, MakerKids

Maker KidsThis year’s faire will have something for all ages! MakerKids will be hosting a Toy Hacking makerstation where young and old alike can use tools and craft supplies to take toys apart and reassemble them into new creations! A 3D printer will be on hand churning out eyes, teeth and other oddities for creations of all kinds. Electronics, soldering irons, and LEDs will also be on hand for further customization. Humpty Dumpty never had it so good!

MakerKids is a makerspace for kids that offers workshops, after-school programs, summer camps, and birthday parties on electronics, woodworking, programming, sewing, 3D printing and much more.

Flame-working…here fishy fishy fish, Natali Baird

Natali BairdNatali Baird will be sharing a unique and mesmerizing glass working technique at the faire called Flame Working. She will be creating glass fish by using a an oxygen/propane torch to melt glass into beautiful pieces of art, live.

Glass has its own sense of movement and internal structure, a quality which allows maker Natali Baird to interact with the medium in an intimate and responsive way. Don’t miss seeing beautiful creations come to life before your eyes this September 21-22!

Hope to see you there!

Eventbrite - Toronto Mini Maker Faire 2013

Toronto Maker Events for Kids and Adults!

Hope you all had a Happy Canada Day! There are a ton of maker workshops for kids and adults coming up in the next couple of weeks, so get out there and make something amazing!

Maker Faire 2011 / Eric Boyd

3d Printing for Total Beginners – July 6, 18, 31 – Toronto, ON
This very popular workshop now has three new dates! Sign up now before it sells out. Learn how to design your own 3D printable items and hear about the cool ways this technology is being used in the real world!
Purchase tickets.

Arduino for Kids Workshop – July 13 – Toronto, ON
The Maker Kids workspace has a number of great programs running this summer, but one of the coolest is definitely the Arduino for Kids Workshop. Kids will learn all the basics of programming, powering and playing with an Arduino board to do things like control lights or a motor. Purchase tickets.

Maker Adults Monday Night Open Shop – July 15 – Toronto, ON
The Maker Kids workspace in Roncesvalles is opening up their doors to adults to learn about woodworking, electronics, 3D modelling and printing, Arduino, Makey Makey and more! This workshop will run every Monday from 7 pm to 10 pm. Purchase tickets.

Intro to Electronics with Michael Bica – July 20 – Toronto, ON
Want to learn how to build basic electronic circuits? If you’ve got a basic knowledge of electricity and Ohm’s law, sign up for this class. At the end of the class you’ll have an understanding of how use breadboards, electronic components (resisters, capacitator, inductors), modelling software and where to buy parts. Purchase tickets.

Curious about creating? Check out these introductory events for new makers!

Not sure what making is all about? Here are some events happening over the coming weeks where you can try your hand at creating something fun and get an introduction to the bustling maker community in and around Toronto.

Toronto 3D Printers Monthly Meeting – June 24 – Toronto, ON

Check out Site 3 coLabratory‘s monthly meeting for 3D printing enthusiasts. The meetings are free, open to the public, and new members of all interests levels are welcome to participate. Learn more.

Unpatched Tuesdays at HackLab.TO – June 25 – Toronto, ON

HackLab.TO is a community space with a diverse membership of hackers (in the MIT sense) who make things, repurpose things, program things, invent things and make lights blink!

Newcomers of all skill levels are invited to visit and participate in a friendly, respectful environment. Learn more.

June 2013 Build Night – June 26 – Guelph, ON

Use 123D and TinkerCAD to learn how to 3D model at DIYode, a 2500-square foot community workshop in Guelph, ON.

General computer skills are the only requirement for joining this collaborative learning workshop. Learn more.

3D Printing for Total Beginners! – July 3 – Toronto, ON 

Hot Pop Factory - 3D Printing for Total Beginners

Draft Print 3D invites you to their workspace to learn how to design your own 3D printable items and hear about all of the cool ways this technology is being used in the real world!

While the event on July 3 is sold out, add yourself to the waiting list for early access to tickets for the next 3D Printing for Total Beginners workshop.

Have an event you’d like us to share?

Upcoming Events for the Curious Creator

In anticipation of the Toronto Mini Maker Faire this fall, why not hit up a few events to learn a thing or two, so you can get started on a project worthy of a public show and tell. It’s no secret that Toronto and surrounding area has a lot to offer when it comes to events that appeal to makers of all kinds. From code to creations, this city serves as an informal school for the curious.

We’ve pulled together a list of events happening over the next few weeks which peaked our interests:

Intro to Flame Effects – June 2
While we don’t know the intricacies of this event, the title does a pretty good job of summing up what this workshop is all about. It’s one of many being hosted by Site3 this month that’s worth checking out – take a look at their calendar.

3D Printing for Total Beginners – Tuesday, June 4
If you haven’t had the chance to get hands-on with 3D printing, this hands-on workshop will give you the chance to do just that. You’ll also learn everything you need to know to get started designing your own 3D printable items.

FITC Spotlight: Hardware – Saturday, June 8
At its next event, FITC is putting the focus on all the goodies that makers dream of: Google Glass, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Leap Motion, 3D printing, drones, depth cameras and more! Featuring 10 creative technologists, this one day event covers emerging technology which is impacting the tech world. Register and save 10% with code MMFTO.


The Next Big Thing: Data with Nora Young – Monday, June 10
The brilliant Nora Young, acclaimed journalist and host of CBC Radio One’s Spark, will be talking about big data at the next Girl Geeks Toronto at CSI on June 10th. Join fellow geeks – boys and girls – for an evening of insights, great conversation, food and wine.


Waterloo Mini Maker Faire – June 15
Like all Maker Faires, this event will be one of the greatest show and tells on earth! The event is being held at Kitchener City Hall and admissions is free. You can expect RobotGrrl’s Robot Creatures, Clearpath Robotics Inc., Engineering Models and more!


Thursday, June 13 – The Ultimate Intro to Arduino Workshop Series
If you’ve been thinking about getting hands-on with Arduino, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre’s 3-part workshop might be the perfect introduction. They’ll be covering off the basics from connecting input sensors and outputs to using serial data to communicate between the Arduino and a computer.

Tuesday, June 18 – Intro to Raspberry Pi!
More than just a microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi is a powerful, but small computer that has a ton of both practical and fun applications. Get familiar with it at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre’s 3-part workshop where you’ll be welcomed to the command line, networking, and Linux, Python and the Raspberry Pi I/O, and advanced networking applications.

Are there other events that the maker community in Toronto should know about? Share them in the comments below and don’t forget to mention why creators should attend!

Thank you. You are awesome!

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party(c) warmnfuzzy

You were awesome. Our sponsors were awesome. Our launch party was awesome. We all had an amazing time and are totally humbled by your support. We generated a lot of love and magic that night! And we want to continue generating magic in September. We are excited to have you by our side supporting the Toronto Maker Faire.

We will very soon be able to announce a location for the Maker Faire, so stay tuned to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to get our updates.

You all know that there is very little that we could have done if it weren’t for your support, so THANK YOU!

Now: let’s relive some of our launch party magic! We are uploading the photographs and videos to our Flickr account and you can start seeing them here.

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

Toronto Maker Faire Launch Party

We thank Adam and his team from Chow Productions for generously supporting us and photographing the launch party. Until next week makers and hackers!

Makers and the White House

This afternoon @3PM ET the White House will be talking about promoting the maker movement with makers Dale Dougherty (MAKE), Tara Tiger Brown (Los Angeles Makerspace) Super Awesome Sylvia (Super Awesome Maker Show), Saul Griffith (Otherlab) and Venkatesh Prasad (Ford). We’ll be watching to see what they have to say.

It’s kind of strange and wonderful to see the White House getting on board with the maker movement, even if much of their interest is couched in terms of the “serious” goal of revitalizing the manufacturing sector. But Obama is clearly also a fan of one of the main reasons people build stuff: to see things fly, of course!

Meet the Maker: Erin Lewis – Electronics Artist

Erin LewisEveryone meet Erin Lewis. Erin is an emerging Canadian artist working in the field of New Media and Wearable Technology. She works in OCAD’s Social Body Lab, alongside Kate Hartmann and co-organizes a wearable computing meetup in Toronto. We are delighted to have Erin on board for Maker Faire Toronto!

Interview by Rachel, wearable computing enthusiast.

How do you refer to yourself as a maker? What do you call yourself?

“I call myself an artist.”

So tell me a little bit about how long you have been an artist… the journey… where did you start, how did you get into this space?

“I officially became an “artist” about a year ago when I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, so that’s my official standing, but I think people who are artists… well I think it’s something in their nature, their character… to just be a creative person and always have the drive for making things and exploring ideas.”

“I  came to this place through an unlikely path. When I was 18 I started working in a community health centre and I continued working there for 11 years. I had an established career path and was making good money. I was totally steady and stable and could have continued like that for the rest of my life if I wanted to, just moving around in the area of public health and community health. But I wasn’t happy, nothing was really interesting and I think that’s speaking to my desire to create and constantly shift and change and move. Basically when you’re working in large institutions that generally aren’t very creative places, eventually your well dries up. I got to the point where I felt I had to decide between a stable lifestyle with a steady income, and being happy. So I chose to go to art school and I actually got a bit of scrutiny for making that decision, not about going to OCAD, but to step away from my career path.

I enrolled at OCAD and thought I would get into video, because I’d already been doing some VJing at that point. I took an electronics course just out of curiosity and totally fell in love. All I could see was endless potential for creating works. I come from a very technologically friendly family. We had computers introduced into our house at a very early time.  My father was an electronics engineer back in the sixties and seventies. Him and my brother are now software engineers.  I grew up with computers in the house and I was on the Internet from the early days. Really I felt very non-threatened by technology and computation, so I think discovering electronics opened me up an area that I’d been somewhat exposed to, but never completely delved into. I began incorporating electronics into my installation work by working with realtime data and using it to drive electronic circuits. OCAD started to offer wearable tech courses, which dealt with electronics that live on the body, and I began to take those.With wearable tech I’m working with a different conceptual ground, but still working with electronics. I think what ultimately underpins my work is that I’m an electronics artist, because some of work is wearable and some of it’s not. In addition to that I’ve just been really keen to develop the conceptual ground of the body as an interface and have a genuine interest in learning more about electronics and learning more about programming. I’ve stayed committed to the path of wearable technology OCAD’s really good for that; they have a number of ways that you can connect with wearable technology through the undergrad courses, through this research lab and its Continuing Studies course. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have Kate Hartman as my professor and mentor throughout this process. She’s really taken me under her wing and supported me through the lab to conduct experiments and to explore the potential of wearable tech.”

OK, so you teach here?

“I teach here at OCAD in the continuing studies department.”

In terms of how projects come to you…. we talked a little earlier about people looking for Arduino experts, so how do projects come to you?

“Mostly it’s through word of mouth. I think part of it’s been that I’m starting to become a somewhat recognised figure in this small community of people. Just through networking in that small community, people come to know you and have may have seen your work or been to one of your workshops, so if an opportunity arises, some people are quick to throw my name in and that’s how I’ve gotten paid jobs in the past, commissions and projects.”

In terms of maker communities in Toronto, obviously you lead the Wearables meetup, but in terms of other spaces, how and what do you interact with in the city?

“There’s only a few that I’ve really connected with and come to know them, so for example Site 3 and Interaccess. With Hacklab, I’ve never been to Hacklab, but I know Eric because he’s everywhere – so I feel like there’s a certain connection in that direction too. I think what happens with the wearable tech scene is that it intersects so many other disciplines and communities. I mean you get people from artist-run centres, hacklabs, academic circles and different design circles. It’s such a melting pot of expertise, that I find that the connection to maker spaces comes through there.”

What are your expectations in where you want to go as an artist, as well as your expectations for the discipline?

“For my personal direction – it’s easier to speak for myself than wearable tech as a whole, but I have short term and long term goals and eventually I’d like to see myself working with electronics and wearable tech in an educational setting. I really enjoy working at a university because I thrive being around creative people and these kind of projects that come in, that change and evolve, that kind of research and experimentation is something that I really enjoy and of course all of this is a very nice way of saying, I like to make weirdo art projects and get paid for it.”

And in terms of you taking your work further into an educational setting? Would that be schools or younger kids?

“Well it’s tricky because the trouble with wearable tech is that there are all these amazing projects on the web. People come to the class with the expectation that they’ll do something like and then you present them with something like this [brings out samples] and it’s well very arts and crafts…. kind of kitschy from the get-go. And I think that there are a number of different problems with that and one of them is that that’s not very encouraging. If you want to make a dress that talks to Twitter – you still have to start out with the basic exercise of sewing LEDs to fabric. There’s something to be said for learning the fundamentals. The thing about teaching kids is that I don’t know how far out of the arts and crafts stage you’d get. For me, wearable tech is ultimately about concept, not just about wearing whatever on my body because I can. It’s about viewing the wearable tech work as an art piece. Some people view it more from a design standpoint, but I’m coming from an art standpoint – seeing wearable tech as an avenue for art and not just design. So I’m not interested in the latest gadget I can wear on my wrist, but how can you communicate an interesting and meaningful idea through a wearable tech piece.”

I’m keen to pick up on the fact you see yourself as an artist, rather than a designer?

“Yeah, I’m not sure what the official differentiation is, but I think as an artist, you’re working with an expression of thought and feeling, conceptual ideas. I think with design, there’s always some connection to purpose and functionality and I think with art you don’t need those considerations. Designers work with concepts as well, but I think there are other things thrown into their mix that change the outcome, whereas I think as an artist you’re allowed to forgo certain things like functionality. Just as an easy example – the Earthquake Skirt that I had created, I mean as skirt it’s totally unusable, you can’t wear it, it’s not comfortable. You know it’s intentionally uncomfortable and would a designer make something like that, I don’t know, but I’m trying to convey a particular idea, no function, no purpose.”

Thinking about that piece of work and some of your other examples that I’ve seen from you, like the corset that connects to the stock market – how do you get your ideas? How does inspiration come to you?

“Well that’s a bit of a challenging question to answer because sometimes you just don’t know and maybe for every project it’s a bit different. But with both of those two works, I think both of those were inspired by data feeds.”

What do you mean by that?

“Just by browsing online and thinking about what kind of realtime data could I wear on the body. What does it mean to wear data sets on the body and how does that change if I wear that as a skirt or a shirt or as a whatever…. and you start to enrich your concept by viewing it from all these different angles and thinking about things like would the Earthquake skirt work as a pair of shoes. How would the idea change? How would the information convey something else? I think with the Stock Market lingerie – there was a little more humour in that one. It was like let’s take two unlikely things, stock market data feed and lingerie and pair them together and see what kind of environment I’m playing in then. So sometimes there’s just that bit of whimsy and then at other times it’s a little bit more directed, but there’s always a starting point and for those two works it was definitely about starting with real time data feeds and thinking about how that can be worn on the body.”

So looking at the data that’s out there and how you can play with it?

“Yeah, viewing data as some kind of malleable tool that you can shape and transform and give new meaning to depending on how you use it; to give it a body. I mean really it’s just numbers, so how do you make those numbers relevant, how do you contextualise it, what changes as a result?   Working with real time data is something that’s been consistent in my work for the last five years and I think it’s really about how do you give the data body and give it some kind of conceptual point.”

In terms of other makers in this space, or even other makers in other artistic spaces, is there anyone you particularly admire?

“I don’t know many people who identify themselves as makers. I mean I know people who identify themselves as artists or designers. I know people through OCAD who are part of maker communities, but I don’t know if they identify as makers because they have backgrounds in art or design. I don’t know what the divide is. I often struggle with that terminology because I’ve had people refer to me as a maker, but I don’t feel that I’m a maker. I feel that I’m an artist. But because we often share the same tools and spaces, the line gets blurry and I’m just not sure where that divide is.”

I know that some of the wearable sessions we’ve both been at, there’s been a lot of discussion that batteries still pose one of the greatest challenges for someone working in this space? Since this was a problem that I experienced 14 years ago, it always seems sad that we haven’t made more progress. Is there anything else that isn’t happening that you think would transform this space?

“I think that’s true, if you look at some of the material we use in soft circuit building like conductive thread and conductive fabric –these kind of materials, they’re repurposed from other sources. Like conductive thread that’s used to fix fencing garments, so conductive thread’s been around for a really long time. Conductive fabric that’s used for EMF shielding – I feel like I have to sit and think about what’s really our own? What hasn’t been repurposed somehow from some other space. And I think at the last Toronto Wearables Meetup, Nick Puckett spoke a little but about that – that there’s such limited access to a lot of these really interesting materials because the market isn’t out there; it’s only being manufactured for industry and if industry doesn’t see a reason for it it won’t get produced. As Nick exemplified, Shape-changing polymers are somewhat hard to come by, and hard to get manufactured to your specifics. In wearable tech, we face this similar challenge in that we just don’t have that much control over some of the materials that we’re using.”

Is that because wearable tech is still a relatively niche space and it would be hard to generate sufficient demand for new materials?

“If I wanted to create my own conductive thread, there would me some pretty significant challenges in doing that and it would be hard to get such a small quantity made and all of these things that are a challenge for a DIY community in connecting with large manufacturers. There’s like a huge divide there, but one area in which we are more successful is like circuit board design and printing PCB, but there’s still further exploration that needs to happen with flexible PCBs that can truly be worn on the body and truly integrated into garments. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there. I mean flexible is out there – flexible electronics are totally available, but they’re still not ideal to wear on the body. I think where we are headed is working with nano-transistors and these microscopic electronic components that can actually exist on a single piece of thread and get incorporated into the weave of a garment/fabric, which I think is ultimately where wearable tech needs to go. And it is going. At some pace, anyway. It’s happening and there’s research in that area, but we don’t have access at this point.”

And I think you were also skeptical as to whether these supposedly washable circuits were actually that washable?

“Yeah and I mean they’re not like very comfortable. They’re not very conducive to a comfortable, wearable circuit. We’re still pushing through this period of time. It’s just about the trajectory of wearable tech and where we are in that process, that evolution. And things are improving, but we still have a lot of aspirations.

I designed this circuit board that sits in a scarf [shows example] but it’s heavy and bulky and there are things that catch on the fabric. Components can break off, and it’s just not an ideal way to wear something. For now, I think wearable tech is more about prototyping. I think we’re prototyping for the future and we’re expressing how we want technology to work for us when we consider how it lives on the body. I mean this is my wireless scarf, but no-one’s really going to go out and wear this. It’s got this big clunker of electronics in it. I can’t wash this. It has a wire running through it that doesn’t look very good or feel very good. I can change the type of wire, but I can’t get away from the fact that it needs a battery and I can’t away from the size of the radio I need.”

And thinking about that, do you have any specific hopes for Toronto’s Maker Faire?

“Having a strong presence of wearable tech there would be great; it puts a nice spin on craft and textiles and computation. It’s so multi-faceted, wearable technology, so it would be great to show people the potential of wearable tech. We’ve talked about having a fashion show and how that represents us (the wearables community) – the issues involves -like the fact it many wearable tech pieces are not robust and therefore can be difficult to wear and move. We’ve also talked about an exhibition hall, which I prefer because most people like to connect with the person that made the work and talk to them about it.

I’d like to see some really inspirational talks, perhaps with some kind of theme, like the human-technology relationship. Like cyborgology etc… What are the common themes? I’d love to use some of the ideas coming out of academia as inspiration for projects.”

Something more intellectual?