We went to the Maker Faire this weekend, a DIY design/technology/creativity festival that attracts everyone from crafty sewing upcyclers to techie families looking for a creative outing. It was such an inspiring event, full of tons of TinkerLab-style making, that I thought I’d dedicate the week to Maker Faire talent. I gathered tons of good projects for you, and I hope you’ll enjoy the eye-candy that I have in store for you!

maker faire + diy design

Shortly after walking through the main gate, we were greeted by a giant generator-powered electric giraffe. Its maker, Lindz, scaled a small kit robot up to this grand scale that reaches 17′ when its neck extends…and it was a show-stopper for sure. If you’ve ever been to Burning Man, you may recognize her, and you can read more about her here.

maker faire + diy design

Here’s a peek into what makes her work. I have no clue, but I did loved seeing all of the colorful wires and appreciate the hours of welding involved in making this animal go.

maker faire + diy design

Right around the corner from the electric giraffe was a pop-up tinkering studio that was designed to show how simple and inexpensive it can be to set up your own tinkering space. I love how they set up all their pliers on a folded piece of cardboard.

Inside this studio was a 5-minute LED Throwie project sponsored by Make Magazine. This would be a really fun project for kids older than five, but my 3-year old got into the spirit of it…especially the throwing part! LED Throwies were invented by the Graffiti Research Lab as an inexpensive and non-destructive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface (street signs, for example).

maker faire + diy design

The materials are simple and can be found at Radio Shack or similar stores.

You’ll need

  • a 10 mm diffused LED
  • a rare earth magnet
  • a lithium battery
  • tape (masking or packing will work)

maker faire + diy design

LED lights have a long and a short side. Attach the long side to the (+) positive side of the battery. Squeeze hard to make sure the light works. If it’s a go, take a 7″ long piece of tape and tape the LED around the battery one time. Then continue wrapping the tape around the magnet until you run out of tape. Here’s a really clear tutorial,with costs (about $1 per Throwie), from Instructables.

Your throwie is now ready to be tossed at something magnetic, maybe your fridge? The Throwie should last about two weeks. And when the battery expires, don’t forget to dispose of it properly.

What else could you do with LED lights or throwies?


  1. What a great celebration!!! I know a lot of people who would enjoy something like this! My husband would be one! (My Dad, nephews, etc..) C too! I looked up to see if one would be near us and there is one in Detroit coming in July (3 hours away) We may actually go to it…especially after seeing all your posts you may really convince me!
    My Dad has always been fascinated with LED lights!

    Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your other posts this week!

    Thanks for the nice comment, MelissaFrom what you’ve told me about him, Maker Faire would definitely speak to your dad’s interests! Well, your whole family, actually 🙂 Detroit isn’t too far away.

  2. Maker Faire was awesome! I especially loved the gigantic kinetic sculpture with the boulders and the little cupcake mobiles. Looking forward to seeing your take on it

    Hi Anne, The boulder sculpture was simply ridiculous in the best possible way, and I love those crazy little cupcakes. They make me smile. And it’s nice to know that I have a local fan 🙂

  3. I can’t wait for mid-June when Maker Faire is coming to Raleigh. We haven’t done much with LEDs other than building a trap for Metro Man (http://preview.tinyurl.com/3sz3zq6). I like the idea of throwies a lot. Rocket Boy has to do eye exercises and in one of those he has to throw bean bags into a bucket. He was excited at first, but after a week or so of bean bag tosses, he isn’t any more. So maybe tossing throwies at magnetic targets would be more interesting.

    Hi Yelena! Given Rocket Boy’s interest in circuits, rockets, etc. Maker Faire has your family’s name written all over it!! You’ll have to let me know if the throwie game works out — sounds like a good plan to me!

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