You have to check out the wondrous machine called the Cyclic Harmonograph. Built by Peter Dalton, this hand-powered wooden machine uses a pulley system to create incredible circular interloping designs on paper. The Cyclic Harmonograph is a bit like a spirograph but it’s much larger and it uses pulleys instead of gears. The designs can be changed by five principle variables, such as changing the ratios between drawing arm and the paper, the rate of the movement of the drawing arm, and more. You can also change the paper and the pens to get different effects. But it’s not all about the pretty pictures. The machine is a wonder of mechanics. You can learn a lot about how rotary motion converts into lateral motion and much more.
The first Cyclic Harmonograph came about several years ago when Peter decided to try to put it together as a proof of concept. And it worked! Last year, his neighbor Katherine Edwards remembered the device as a kid and asked him to make one for a Tedx conference at University of Michigan. They collaborated and he built a larger Cyclic Harmonograph. It was a hit! Peter also showcases the machine on special days at the school where he works as a substitute teacher.
When I asked Peter what he wanted people to get out of his Cyclic Harmonograph, he told me that he wants you to know that you can take an idea, put it down on paper as a rough sketch, and figure a way to actually make it. It’s important to continue that process of discovery. Peter also advises that kids watch their family and friends to learn new things, like woodworking and sewing. So come on by to see the marriage of art and mechanics in the Cyclic Harmonograph and get your own design made before your very eyes!
Ever considered making art with fire? Then you have to check out Steve Baltrukonis’s Drawn with Fire at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. Steve Baltrukonis creates art through pyrography, a form of decorating wood through fire. He got his start in pyrography in 2012 when he started experimenting with a wooden medicine cabinet and a soldering iron. Within a short period of time, he was hooked. In an interview, he explains, “As an art form I like how versatile it is. My work runs the gamut from very traditional stuff with a Wild West vibe to super weird psychedelic black light pieces and sci-fi illustrations.”
Steve finds a lot of his inspiration from books, especially science fiction. When he’s not taking commissions and working on other projects, he’s working on his big project to read the top 100 science fiction books and creating a piece to correspond with all of them. He also creates street art in Chicago. Several years ago, he started photographing the amazing street art in Chicago and blogs about it at StreetArtofChicago.com. He loves street art because “it’s ethereal…it’s incredibly dangerous. It’s the great leveler. Someone with no talent can grab a paint marker and scrawl a tag on a wall or someone can bolt a gorgeous piece of art that took hours to make to a stop sign.” After a while, he decided that he should create his own street art.
At Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside , Steve plans on demonstrating pyrography to demystify the process. He’ll be working on several pieces and fielding questions about the art form. He’ll conduct some presentations to discuss different tools and effects that can be achieved through burning on wood and leather. So stop by Drawn with Fire and learn about using fire for art’s sake!
Do wondrous things. That’s the philosophy behind Scott Priz’s DIY Circus. He believes that theatre isn’t just something trained people do on stage; theatre can be made by anyone anywhere. Everyone has an imagination; it’s just a matter of using it and having fun in the process. You don’t need a stage for any of that (though it is nice to have one). DIY Circus also believes in the importance of audience in all theatre. There doesn’t need to be a fourth wall. All actors should involve the audience and make them a co-conspirator in the performance.
Members of DIY Circus have put on their own shows throughout Chicago, even starting on a homemade stage in someone’s backyard. Today, members of DIY Circus collaborate with Pocket Guide to Hell to put on historical recreations and events in bars and parks throughout the city, such as the First Ward Ball and Chicago Children’s TV Shows.
DIY Circus is excited to return to Mini-Maker Faire. All day, DIY Circus will put on charming acrobatic performances by students from local circus school, the Aloft Loft. DIY Circus will hold workshops for kids where they learn to build scenes, learn about the structure of a play and then act. There will also be a puppet performance with a puppet making workshop. Come on by and release the inner circus performer within you!