The Nikola Tesla Experience with featured makers, Niffer Desmond and Geno Soroka

nikolo teslaCreative duo, Niffer Desmond and Geno Soroka, bought together by their admiration for Nikola Tesla are coming to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, to display the ultimate Nikola Tesla Experience. The artist and engineer teamed up to tell us how they became makers, their inspirations and some advice for future makers.

Answers from Niffer Desmond:

  1.   Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? My name is Niffer Desmond and I have been a creative maker since I can remember.  In the 70’s I grew up with a Microbiologist Father and artist/nurse mother. We traveled a lot and so I was exposed to many awesome sites of nature. I was always excited to create art and make things with my hands. I loved to go rock hunting and chase lizards and butterflies and go to museums. In college I dabbled with technology and created a humorous robot, the “Hugh Grant Machine” that would stutter and follow people around. I incorporated animals into my art a lot and made and animated puppets for films. The closest thing to an invention I made was a drawstring venus flytrap puppet that you could put together. But Drawing was always my first and foremost talent, and came to play when I created the Nikola Tesla coloring book. I first found out about him around the year 2000 and my love for him grew as I learned more about this generous genius, and felt compelled to make the book about his life and inventions in 2015.
  2.  What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? I think this is completely variable in the wide range of making and inventing possibilities- but certainly I’d say, safety first!  The biggest change making inventors will always be asking, how can I improve the way we live? Or how can I save the planet? Which are a high priority at this point.
  3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? I am selling my Nikola Tesla Coloring book in a few places- it is not an invention in itself per se, but it is the first and perhaps the only coloring book in the world about history’s greatest inventor! You can purchase it or read all about it in my blog at Teslacoloringbook.com.
  4. What has been your greatest success in business? Good question, I make art for a living and things go in and out of popularity. When I made this book I had some success with the Kickstarter campaign to launch, building a community around the cause of educating.
  5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? I don’t have professional advice here but my wisdom says to follow your intuition and passions!

Answers from Geno Soroka:

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? My name is Geno Soroka. I have been making and building things since I was 14, robots, electronics, and etc. Eventually my hobbies led me to become an electrical engineer. Now I do what I love at work, and after work I help run a makerspace in Pittsburgh PA, HackPittsburgh. I teach electronics and programming classes to the public at HackPittsburgh, and help produce our own Pittsburgh Maker Faire. Like Niffer, I am fascinated by the inventor Nikola Tesla. He was the best Electrical Engineer ever, and is my role model. I run a club at HackPittsburgh dedicated to Nikola Tesla and High Voltage. We play around with Tesla coils and such.
  2. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? Ask yourself, “Why are you making this?”, Will this help someone? Inspire someone? Or is this just for fun? It’s totally okay to make things which are just for fun. Also, know when to stop being a perfectionist. At some point you have to stop trying to improve your design, because there is no such thing as perfection. Sometimes you can make things worse by trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
  3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? I am not selling anything. I will be advertising memberships of HackPittsburgh which is a nonprofit makerspace in Pittsburgh PA.
  4. What has been your greatest success in business? I work full time for a company as an engineer. I have never tried to start my own business, but definitely planning on doing so one day.
  5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? Ask for help! Learn things from others! Find other people who love making things. Join a makerspace. They have tools, and community. You can do it alone, but it’s a lot more fun with others.

Don’t forget to check Niffer and Geno out at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire where you will be able to dive into the world of Nikola Tesla while coloring in pages in the Tesla coloring book, playing a musical Tesla coil on a piano, and making spooky sounds by moving the spirit radio around.

 

Rusterior Design with featured maker, Carrie Rinehart

rusterior
Did you ever want to try your hand at making a design on a tee shirt or tote? Well now is your chance at this years Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th with Carrie Rinehart from Rusterior. She will be showing the art of screen printing and allowing you to channel your inner maker and try it for yourself. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us about how she became a maker, her product and provide advice for future makers.

  1.  Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I started sewing some scarves and accessories as gifts and people saw them and went nuts so I put a few on Etsy and I ended up selling a lot of them. Then one day I sewed a silhouette of a buffalo on a tank top and I started selling a bunch of those. I would sell them at work or at the farmers markets and my business really took off from there. 

I really wanted to make something of my Etsy shop and wanted to build a brand, so I took a very down and dirty screen printing basics class in buffalo at the WNY book art center and I fell IN LOVE with screen printing. I have now been screen printing for about 3 years and I love it more and more every day. I love how simple yet complex it is and how you have the ability to create something so detailed and unique since every print will always have a slight variation. 

I have a very simplistic screen printing set up, with a press that I built out of an old door because when I first started I didn’t want to invest a whole lot of money and I still use that same press today!

  1.    What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

The importance of keeping good books. It is easy to take off without the proper foundations built. So my recommendation is to work from the ground up even though it is easy to jump right into the making, the business aspect is just as important 🙂 

  1.    Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

I am selling products and have been for 4 years. I have a couple of copyrights on designs and am in the process of trademarking my business name and becoming an LLC. 

  1.    What has been your greatest success in business? 

My greatest success has to be a tie between two. Buying and opening my mobile retail store was a big deal for me and is still a work in progress and also I will be showcasing my business in Feb 2018 at a NYC trade show called NYNOW.

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Research, Research and Research. Stay open minded and flexible because where you think you are headed may change drastically and you may end up in a total different place than where you thought you would end up. 

Don’t forget to visit Rusterior at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, where you are encouraged to bring your own tote, tee, or special paper and try your hand at screen printing. But, before you come, check out more of them on their WebsiteFacebook and Etsy page.

DIY BFLO with featured maker, Melissa Swiatek-Odien

diy bfloBack again to the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire , we have Melissa Swiatek-Odien, from DIY BFLO, who was nice enough to answer some questions regarding her business and provide advice for future makers. Don’t miss her presentation at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, where she will discuss easy steps one can take to reduce their impact on the environment.

  1.    Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I was inclined toward art and creative hobbies since early childhood and eventually went on to receive a B.A in Art from Buffalo State.  Even so, I did not yet recognize myself as a maker at that point.  That moment came while in my second semester at grad school.  I had gone to U.B. to study art history in an attempt to find a “practical” career application for my love of art and creative things.  The volumes of reading and writing that my classes required left little time for anything else and as a result, I stopped making art.  At the same time, I was reading and writing papers about other people who created art, was surrounded by art on campus and was discussing art in my seminars.  I felt a frustration building inside of me until I finally came to the realization that I need to make art in addition to studying it or whatever else I found myself doing in the future; making art and being creative through making needed to be a part of my life somehow.  Starting then, I gave myself permission to pursue my creative projects and began making an effort to give myself time for them.  So much evolved from that realization, including DIY BFLO.

  1.    What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

Having proper tools and materials on hand.  Nothing is so halting to a creative rush as not having the tools or materials you need to get your vision started.  If you have a specific project in mind be sure that you have at least the proper items that you need to get started.  At the same time, don’t be afraid to start a project just because you don’t have every possible thing that you could ever need.  Often times you won’t realize that you need a supply item until you’ve started working. 

  1.    Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

Yes, I will be selling reusable shopping totes made from vintage pillowcases as well as reusable produce bags.  I do not have any patents in place on my designs. I encourage people to make their own items if they are so inclined and will be promoting my retail location (located at 980 Northampton) as an option for purchasing reclaimed crafting and creative supplies.

  1.    What has been your greatest success in business?

DIY BFLO has existed as a business for only one and a half years.  I feel that my greatest success has been the connections that I’ve made with members of the small business, neighborhood improvement and creative communities and the level of brand awareness that I’ve been able to build in such a short amount of time.

  1.    What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

It’s o.k. to learn as you go.  Experiment, have fun and learn by doing.  Making mistakes and solving problems does not mean that you are bad at what you do; it means that you are honing your craft!  Also, don’t be afraid to ask experienced makers for advice.

Stay posted on everything DIY BFLO through their Website, Instagram and Facebook page and don’t forget to visit them at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th.

Strong Sport Performance with featured maker, John Strong

SSPFirst time attendee, John Strong, of Strong Sport Performance, is attending Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, to display, The Strong Spot, a swing trainer that has the potential to increase a hitter’s swing speed. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his business, product, and advice for future makers.

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I’m a trainer and physical educator by trade. I guess I’ve always thought about new inventions or re-purposing existing products; I honestly feel like a lot of people do.  Musings that sound like, “hey wouldn’t it be cool if…” are pretty natural, but many times nothing comes of it.  This time for me it did! I thought of a way to improve on the training practices of my boys and I put that idea into action.

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

Building on my last answer I would say the idea of, “why not?”  So many times folks just “figure it’s already been done”.  Sure most times they’re right, but sometimes they’re wrong.  And even just doing the research to find out whether or not their idea is already out there will either lead them to find and use a product they wouldn’t have otherwise known about, or lead them to invent something that we can all share in to improve our lives in some way.

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

The Strong Spot is definitely for sale.  They retail for $500, just over the cost of a new high end bat.  I have a US patent and an EIN so I’m ready for folks to adopt it!

  1. What has been your greatest success in business?

Actually just putting Strong Sports Performance (www.strongsportsperformance.com) together as an LLC is my greatest accomplishment so far.  The process of beginning a new business is fraught with things that most folks don’t know about or consider or both.  I’m happy with my first year and am hoping that some sales perk up year two!

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Enjoy the problems that you will inevitably come across.  Treat it like a puzzle that you’re enjoying completing not a maze that you have to escape because your life’s depending on it.  The more stress you heap onto your problems the more challenging they’ll seem to solve because you won’t have all your available mental resources at your disposal. And also good luck 🙂

Don’t miss John Strong, Saturday, May 20th at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire where you too can test your swing and see how The Strong Spot can help you!

Featured Maker: WNYBAC

WNYBACWe got the chance to catch up with Melissa Ellis, Exhibitions and Retail Manager, at WNYBAC to answer questions about the business and provide insight to future makers leading up to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire, Saturday, May 20th. 

     1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an                      inventor/maker?

WNYBAC started in 2008/2009 as a educational nonprofit dedicated twnybac2o printmaking and preserving the book arts in Buffalo. Our storefront space at 468 Washington Street in downtown Buffalo is home to our letterpress and screenprint studios, a gallery, and a retail shop. Throughout the year we offer workshops for all ages and skill levels in book arts; paper making, bookbinding, lino/etching/letterpress/and screen printing, hand lettering and more! We also hold field trips and professional developments for groups of all ages. Currently, WNYBAC is run by three employees: Gail Nicholson; Executive Director, Rosemary Williams; Program Director, and Melissa Ellis; Exhibitions & Retail Manager. 

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

The first thing a new maker should consider is what their motivation is and grow from there.

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

WNYBAC sells a plethora of hand printed goods! Our store and online shops feature hand made posters, prints, notebooks, paper, coaster, postcards, stationery, greeting cards as well as consignment items from local and regional artists. 

  1. What has been your greatest success in business?

I think our greatest success throughout the years has been our community outreach and being able to bring educational programming to underprivileged youths throughout Western New York. We are able to show kids that they can be creative and learn the skills to make something that is both beautiful and meaningful. 

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Don’t be afraid to take risks! Sometimes the most unusual ideas are the most successful. 

Want to know more about WNYBAC! Go visit the store at 468 Washington Street in Buffalo, or visit their Website, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook page to find out more!

Pill Bug Composting with featured makers, Brianna Gore and Tegan Ohlson

Featured Makers, Brianna Gore and Tegan Ohlson, are making special bins to create a habitat for pill bugs that will allow them to compost food scrap wastes. Brianna was kind enough to discuss with us the duos work and share advice for future makers.

1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

In fourth grade both I and Tegan were inspired by our enrichment teacher, Mrs. Honeck, to start thinking more creatively and out of the box. Then we had a Creation Fair where we made a huge art project where we drew cats in the style of Minecraft.

2. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

They should consider changing how they think.  Think up as many ideas as you can and don’t be afraid to use them.  If you put it on paper follow through and make it a reality.

3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

Not at the moment, but we are working on it.

4. What has been your greatest success in business?

My greatest success in business was raising over $1000 at school for Spanish Club.

5. What advice would you offer other inventors/makers developing or wanting to develop products?

Don’t just think of your ideas and create.  Make sure you have people, a team, who support you.  People who won’t put you down, but will encourage you and your creativity in life and business.

Don’t forget to check them out at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th where they will have a display about pill bugs: what they really are, why they are good for our gardens and what it means when we find them in our homes!

LightForFitness with featured maker, Alan Haungs

Featured Maker, Alan Haungs, has presently available a patent pendingalan haungs light bulb filtering for circadian health. He was nice enough to answer some questions regarding himself, his product, and advice for future makers leading up to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th.

  1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I decided to back to school once my youngest left the house for college. I acquired a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering at UB in 2011 in my early 50s. I primarily was interested in LED fabrication and PHOTONICS. My master’s thesis tile is Improved Design and Fabrication of Light Toxicity Chamber used for Light Induced Retinal Degeneration in Mice. It can be read online here.

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

They must absolutely believe in what that are about to engage in, otherwise they need to discover what that is.

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

Click here (and soon here) to see examples of my patent pending invention I am selling. More variants of this invention will be added to the website. Also, I am working on another light-hygiene invention that I will not discuss until the patent pending process is in place, and am presently collaborating with other light-hygiene business interests. Hopefully I will have my next invention ready to display at the Maker Fair.

And I sell light-hygiene products focused on the elderly, night workers, typical day workers, and persons suffering migraine.

  1. What has been your greatest success(es) in business?

Few people follow their own advice, but I am following my own advice. I employ gained knowledge to change my own habits, (my Master’s Thesis, my light toxicity chamber- see my online testimonial). IN SHORT, I fixed my own health concern with the same knowledge acquired through my degree that is integrated into my light hygiene business/inventions.

Also my success is with befriending and collaborating with other light-hygiene inventors. The following invention is the result of many hours of consultation I gave to the manufacturer. I NOW sell that product.

  1. What advice would you offer other inventors/makers developing or wanting to develop products?

It has to be something you absolutely believe in. That belief is what makes the struggle possible.

Go check out more of LightForFitness on their WebsiteFacebookInstagram or their Brick and Mortar store located at 219 Brigham Road, Dunkirk, NY, 14048. Don’t miss Alan’s radio interview on Sunday, April 9th after 4pm on 93.1 FM WBNY

Featured Maker: Richard Porter- Accessibility Hacks

As a repeat Maker for the Faire, Richard Porter is back again to demonstrate a voice-richard porter- maker faireoperated, 3D printed wheelchair control and a wheelchair power take-off created from an off-the-shelf USB car adapter. He is also planning to port the voice-command code to Android and will be able to discuss his experiences with that process.

Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

From childhood, I have always had an interest in making things. My father was an electrical engineer and built our television and stereo system from kits. He taught me how to solder and as I grew older allowed me to work on projects independently. Lately, I have been working with my daughter to create devices that allow my wife (whose mobility has been affected by MS) to maintain some degree of independence.

What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

A new inventor/maker should consider making something that is practical and useful and then find someone who has created something similar and has published directions. The quickest and easiest way to learn is by following in the footsteps of those who have blazed the trail before us. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have all of the parts and equipment on hand. Think of things that you do have that can substitute, or find out who does have the necessary parts/equipment and make a plan to borrow or purchase your own.

Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

I am not selling any of my creations at this time.

What has been your greatest success in business?

In the early 00’s I was a member of a team that developed and sold more than a hundred Linux-based servers for small to medium size businesses.

What advice would you offer other inventors/makers developing or wanting to develop products? 

If you want to sell a lot of product you need to have someone with good business and marketing skills on your team. Don’t be overly concerned about intellectual property rights when just getting started. A patent is useless if you don’t have the resources to defend it.

Want to know more about Richard and his Accessibility Hacks, check out his blog. And be sure to check him out at the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on May 20th.

Call for Makers at 2017 Buffalo Mini Maker !

We are now accepting applications for creative makers of all kinds to be part of our fourth annual event! We are looking to showcase a diverse mix of makers, ranging from tech enthusiasts to crafters, homesteaders, scientists, garage tinkerers and inventors.

Makers include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Scientists
  • Robotics, builders & clubs
  • 3D printing enthusiasts
  • Woodworkers, machinists & welders
  • App designers
  • Food makers, growers & foragers
  • Drone enthusiasts & builders
  • Knitters, weavers & yarn bombers
  • Engineers
  • Artists & sculptors
  • Fashion designers, costume makers
  • Automotive, motorcycle and bicycle designer/builders
  • Musical instrument makers
  • Lego, K’Nex & other builders
  • Puppeteers
  • Inventors & tinkerers
  • Cosplayers
  • Musicians
  • Performers, actors, comedians

There is no minimum age restriction – young makers are encouraged to apply. APPLY NOW!

Meet Romibo: Making & Social Robot Enhanced Learning

Fourth 2015 3

Romibo is a social therapy robot developed by Carnegie Mellon University and utilized by Fine Art Miracles (FAM) – a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization offering art and music therapy and social robot enhanced learning. Using emerging technology, Romibo can move, speak and ask questions, and even track the eye movements of whomever is engaging with him. Finding that challenged and neuro-typical children have an easier time focusing for long periods of time when engaged with a robot, he has proven to be a valuable aid in the classroom, especially for children on the autism spectrum who have difficulty feeling comfortable interacting with people. Great improvements in social behavior have been attributed to interactions with this furry and friendly robot.

Continue reading