Maker Faire Austin: thumbs up from sensory kiddos & hovering moms!

I’m not a good busy person. It may sound like a cop out, but I am a low-energy introvert who can really only handle about one activity every few days. So being busy every day? Not my jam. But I will sacrifice myself for Mother’s Day and a good Austin event like the Austin Maker Faire.

I’ve wanted to go to the Austin Maker Faire for years, but we just haven’t been able to make it happen with our schedules. So I was thrilled to find out that it was Mother’s Day weekend this year, even if it was the day after our Listen to Your Mother show. Because Mother’s Day = I can do whatever I want!

Austin Maker Faire had everything my nerdy little family loves: technology, LEGO, drones, 3-D printing, bathrooms. When your kids study the hanging signs and scream they want to go to ROBOTICS!, you know you’ve done something right. Or at least my husband has, because I don’t know squat about robotics. But I was ready to learn.

Austin Maker Faire
Gimme a kiss!

austin maker faire

Here’s one thing I loved: I have sensory kiddos. Sensory kiddos love to touch things more than the average kiddo. And at Maker Faire, there were LOTS of things to touch. And they pretty much had permission to touch ALL of it. Except the Tesla coils. More on those in a minute.

When we’re in these situations, I become the mom who hovers, always on the lookout for a finger I need to remove from something important or the object I need to take from someone’s hand. I remind them to “listen to instructions!” before diving into an experiment. I am the worst.

But the makers at Maker Faire are NOT the worst, and they explained their project and crafts with the patience of saints. Before I could say “Don’t touch!” as my kids reached for something enticing, they were already saying, “You can touch it!” Bless you, kind makers.

Rachel’s and Christian’s Favorite: LEGOs LEGOs LEGOs.

austin maker faire lego

There was a gigantic LEGO city (definitely no touching) and several building stations (all the touching!) including an entire section devoted strictly to Minecraft and a floor full of Duplos for the little LEGO fans.

She hung out there for QUITE a while.

Claire’s Favorite(s): homemade nail polish and making a felt wallet in the craft lab.

austin maker faire feto soap nail polish

We came across Feto Soap, where you could make your own soap or nail polish. Both Claire and Zoe chose the nail polish (shocker!). What I loved was how easy they made it for them. Two tiny scoops of any color/glitter combination you can think of, then they add the gooey stuff, and we shook it all up and gave our new colors names.

“Can we paint them now?” (In this crowded space, so I can run off and smudge them on everything I touch?)

“NO.”

After nail polish Claire and I tried our hand at potholders. Holy crap how did I do so many of those as a kid? They were not quite as easy as I remember, and for a little girl with dexterity issues, it was very frustrating. BUT while I finished her potholder (because of course I did), she wandered to another table, and I watched from a distance as the volunteer showed her how to sew together her own felt wallet. I wondered if I should go over and help/monitor/HOVER, but I didn’t. She was fine on her own. Actually, she was probably better on her own without me hovering. It’s a lesson I’m learning slowly.

austin maker faire potholders
Wasn’t this easy when I was a kid? NOT ANYMORE WITH MY GIANT ADULT FINGERS.

Zoe’s favorite(s): making her own nail polish and also GIANT POTHOLDER.

Zoe loves everything. She picks things up very quickly with little to no instruction. After she made her nail polish, she found the table in the craft lab with what was probably a 5 x 5 homemade loom for making a gigantic potholder – basically a larger version of the one I was making with/for Claire. She wove and threaded the fabric and showed me how to do it. Learning new things like this really excites her, and she completely lights up.

austin maker faire giant potholder craft lab

My Favorite(s): ArcAttack and everything in the Craft Lab

We wandered back into the Dark Room (part of the faire with special light attractions) just in time to see ArcAttack‘s performance with their homemade, high tech instruments, including “two custom built singing Tesla coils, which have been modified to play musical notes by modulating their spark output.” It was one of the raddest things I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something, since electricity and I have a bit of a bad history.

And then someone actually went into a special suit and volunteers in a special cage, with the sparks shooting all around them, and NO THANK YOU. I will watch from afar.

austin maker faire arcattack tesla coils

austin maker faire arcattack tesla coils

No lie – I was completely spent from our LTYM show the evening before. I don’t know, I guess wearing Spanx and heels makes me tired? But I pushed through. For technology. For crafts. For learning!

By late afternoon I thought my legs were going to collapse and I would be destined to live the rest of my days in the Palmer Events Center. But every time I turned a corner, there was one more booth I wanted to visit. Screen printing! Make your own bookmarks! Ooooh, embroidery! Obviously the arts and crafts section was my jam, and Claire and Zoe loved it too. But all three of them are also science-loving girls who love to learn and discover new things. Maker Faire was the perfect activity for all of us to get in touch with learning, and I came away with a lot of good things we can try at home this summer (except not the Tesla coils).

 

austin maker faire light wall
Painting with light
austin maker faire fire breathing robot
Giant fire-breathing robot!

All in all, we WILL be back, and also you should know that when we left we drove straight to Churro Co, because Mother’s Day.

austin churro co

austin churro co
Ain’t sharing.

 

The good people at Maker Faire Austin provided my family with complimentary passes in exchange for this post.

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