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San Mateo’s annual Maker Faire this weekend
May 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal

Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Fashion designer and teacher Alexandria von Bromssen prepares one of her 5-year-old student’s designs for the runway at this weekends Maker Faire in San Mateo. Tickets are available on site and prices vary. Check for specific information.

From a fire-breathing 12-foot-tall octopus and flying drones to sustainable farming and sewing, the newfangled Maker Faire has something for all.

Picture Burning Man meets science fair meets fashion show.

Started in San Mateo nine years ago, the Maker Faire will once again light up the San Mateo County Event Center this Saturday and Sunday. What started as a grassroots way to highlight innovation and the do-it-yourself movement, the event spawned into more than 100 Maker Faires across the world last year alone, said Maker Faire Vice President Sherry Huss.

“We wanted to bring makers together and bring them to a venue to showcase what they do. Our goal around Maker Faire is to make makers,” Huss said.

There will be more than 900 maker exhibits this year that cross technology, science, crafts, fashion, art, food and more.

Local maker Alexandria von Bromssen is best known for making it to the finals of Project Runway season 12 with her unique clothing designs. But von Bromssen said her goal has been to foster children inspired by fashion with her Camp Couture in San Mateo.

“Times are different, when I was growing up there wasn’t anything (like this.) I’m providing something I probably wanted as a kid. I think the seed should be planted early and whether they take it to a professional level or as a hobby, it’s a skill. It’s not a video game, it makes the kids think. It’s a wholesome activity,” von Bromssen said.

Von Bromssen said she will have a booth at Maker Faire where kids can learn how to sew, she’ll be lecturing Sunday and some of her students — some as young as 5 — will be putting on a fabulous fashion show.

“It’s Tim Burton, meets Willy Wonka, meets sewing and then meets me,” von Bromssen said.

Von Bromssen said Camp Couture and many of her designs revolve around repurposing fabrics and teaching kids how making can be fun, social and fashionable.

“At the Maker Faire, there’s something for everybody. It’s a very special thing. I think it’s so cool, making wearable art, it definitely has a place in our society,” von Bromssen said.

This year, people can play with 3-D printers, learn how to pick a lock and explore basic electronics, see a life-size mousetrap, create power through pedaling, watch the Game of Drones and so much more, Huss said. Maker Faire is extremely hands-on for visitor of all ages and it’s about promoting a participatory culture, Huss said.

“One of the key things we see and part of the reason we do this as well, is to get kids interested in making and give them a vehicle and a format to make,” Huss said. “People are inherently makers. We like coming up with objects, there’s a story behind them. It helps with communities too. You can talk about an object and share it.”

Von Bromssen said she teaches kids how to think outside the box, how to communicate and express themselves while socializing. They learn about problem solving and, because 70 percent to 80 percent of the materials used are recycled or repurposed, they also learn about sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, von Bromssen said.

“It’s self expression, but there’s also the engineering part of it,” von Bromssen said. “There’s a lot of math and I just like blowing math problems up. Two plus two doesn’t need to equal four anymore.”

Huss said the Bay Area is the heart of innovation and technology and a perfect meeting place for makers from all over. There will be nearly 100 young makers in their teens and younger, a startup pavilion for companies interested in getting going with Kickstarter campaigns or meeting investors and lectures from wonderful makers throughout the faire, Huss said.

“What’s most important about Maker Faire is makers are here sharing their ideas and sharing what they do. They’re putting it out there for the community to take and make it better or enhance it or put their own personal style on it,” Huss said. “The profit here isn’t always dollars, the proprietor is for the good of mankind.”

Maker Faire is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 17 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 18 at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1345 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo. For ticket information and pricing, go to Tickets can be purchased on site. Von Bromssen’s fashion show is 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17 at Pedal Stage. Her lecture is 2 p.m. Sunday, May 18 at the Textile Lounge. For more information about von Bromssen and Camp Couture visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106



Tags: maker, bromssen, faire, makers, about, mateo,

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