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The biggest show and tell on earth coming to Atlanta

When you create something for the very first time, you are likely to make a mistake.

That’s how Irm Diorio ended up at Home Depot on a Tuesday afternoon in search of better materials to turn a child’s wheelchair into a Lincoln Town Car for a Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” halloween costume.

“We are working with a non-profit called Magic Wheelchair to make inclusive costumes,” Diorio said. “When we are creating something from scratch that none of us has ever built before, we make mistakes.”

>> Related: Atlanta maker turns love of pottery into a big, small business

For Diorio, Executive Director of Decatur Makers, a family-friendly makerspace in downtown Decatur, failure is an integral part of the learning.

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On Oct. 27 and 28, Diorio and her peers from Decatur Makers will join more than a hundred other makers for Maker Faire Atlanta. The event, known as the biggest show and tell on earth, brings together engineers, crafters, scientists and makers of all ages to share their creations with the public.

“It is very much like a combination of a science fair and art festival,” said Milton Walker III, interim Executive Director of the Southeast Makers Alliance which produces Maker Faire Atlanta.

At Maker Faire, the show is just as important as the tell. “One of the key ideas with making is that you make something but you want to show people and tell them what you are making,” Walker said.

Attendees can expect hands-on experiences with all sorts of creations in a range of mediums. There are crafters, woodworkers, blacksmiths, 3D print makers, robots, drones, underwater subs, and of course, tricked out wheelchair costumes. This year the makers also include a graffiti artist and Vamos Chicos, a maker focused mobile bus. 

Maker Faire Atlanta began in 2011 on the campus of Georgia Tech. Back then it was a small gathering of tech enthusiasts. In just a few years, it grew into a full fair and moved to Decatur before landing in the current location at Georgia Freight Depot.

A virtual reality demonstration at Maker Faire Atlanta.

Lew Lefton, a faculty member at Georgia Tech and founding director of Decatur Makers, has been to every Maker Faire. “I like the vibe of the fair,” he said. “The people are passionate with highly developed skills and some are passionate without highly developed skills,” he said. “All of these people come into making things which is a natural human activity. Humans naturally want to create.”

One of the biggest challenges is defining just who is a maker. It is intentionally a broad term designed to be as inclusive as possible. 

“I look at almost everybody as being some type of maker,” Walker said. Some makers are very traditional and others -- such as the cosplay enthusiasts that will participate in a contest at this year’s fair -- are creating new territory for makers. 

Over the years, more young people have been attracted to the world of makers, Walker said. Maker Faire Atlanta has developed its outreach to children over the years. It now features a young makers area that is heavy on blocks, legos and engineering.  

“If you look at kids they are naturally putting things together and taking them apart and ultimately that is what makers do,” Lefton said.  “There is something innate about creating. The act of creating and creating physical things and digital things is what makers like to do.”

Here, Irm Diorio offers tips on navigating Maker Faire  Atlanta: 

  1. Grab a map and see what pulls you in. 
  2. Get hands on. Lurking is fine to a point but then go back and get hands on and try something. That is the main purpose of Maker Faire Atlanta. 
  3. Find your local makerspace people. Maybe that is a community you want to join.
  4. Remember everybody is a maker. Walk around and see what is intriguing to you. If you walk out and didn’t find it there is still something you can do that is hands one. Just create something. 

EVENT DETAILS

Maker Faire Atlanta

10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Oct. 27  and 12 - 5 p.m., Oct. 28. Free. Georgia Freight Depot , 65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E. , Atlanta. For information and registration visit atlanta.makerfaire.com.

About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.

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