OAKLAND -- It's been a few years since Max Godino has done any silkscreen printing. But at Sunday's East Bay Mini Maker Faire, the Oakland resident was busy dragging black ink across the surface of a screen atop a T-shirt soon to be emblazoned with a grinning, Day of the Dead-style sugar skull.
"I've done a little bit of silk-screening but it's been a while," Godino said a few minutes later, grinning with pride after putting on his newly decorated garment.
His young companions, 6-year-old Isaiah and 8-year-old Annika, were hard at work on their own shirts, coloring in freshly silk-screened sugar skulls with fabric marking pens.
Their next project? "We're going to make butter!" Annika said excitedly.
The industrious crew was one of hundreds of families and other folks buzzing around Oakland's Park Day School and the neighboring Studio One Art Center during Sunday's fair.
A smaller East Bay version of the annual and much larger Maker Faire, which is produced by Make magazine, the one-day event showcases the handiwork of everyone from computer scientists to clothing designers, and is a billed as a celebration of all things creative, inventive and resourceful.
And like its larger sibling, the fair gives everyone a chance to connect with artists and inventors while allowing them to participate by learning a new skill or by doing something with their hands -- whether it's stamping metal, building a rocket or making seed bombs out of compost and clay.
"It's a great introduction for people to hands-on artmaking," said Teri Gardner, communications manager at the Richmond Art Center, as she watched a gaggle of kids and adults hammering away on metal strips at the center's booth. Next door, more adults and children pounded away at The Crucible's make-your-own-copper-charm booth, stamping designs into small metal discs.
However, there was much more going on than jewelry-making and metal smithing; the fair is the kind of place where you can get your toaster fixed or show your athletic prowess by scaling a tower -- a tower you've made, of course.
Which is exactly what was going on in the "crate stacking" area, where adults and kids tested their climbing skills by ascending a column of plastic milk crates. One crate is placed on top of another and scaled, until you -- and them -- come tumbling down.
If you're less of a daredevil, there's quieter, more contemplative activities. You could try your hand at wood puzzlemaking at the Mothership Hacker Moms booth, run by the self-proclaimed "first women's hackerspace" for do-it-yourself craft and design, or sit under a tree and watch Berkeley resident April Gavin, who creates traditional Navajo weaving, work on a portable loom.
While Gavin is no stranger to demonstrating her craft in public, this was her first Maker Faire. And like most makers who find community among like-minded artists, creatives and inventors, she didn't come alone.
"I invited my friends," Gavin said with a smile, nodding toward the two weavers sitting near her at looms made from painting easels, deeply engrossed in their work.