The 2014 Maker Faire saw robots, printers and puppets – Metro US

The 2014 Maker Faire saw robots, printers and puppets

Got a broken button maker? There’s a fix for that – and Tony Stanzione of theFixers’ Collective says he can show you how.

“Our whole thing is to get people to do their own fix,” said Stanzione, who estimated he’s been part of the Brooklyn-based group since 2008. “Learn how to use their hands.”

The Fixers’ Collective, dedicated as it is to the mission of “improvisational fixing and aggressive asset recovery,” fit in well at the 2014 World Maker Faire, which took place this weekend at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.

The event, now in its fifth year, draws in a synthesis of creative and tech types, from robotic engineers, 3D-printer enthusiasts and jewelry makers (and jewelry makers who create their wares on a 3D printer) all with a yearning to fix, hack, improvise and share – and to get curious visitors into the game.

None quite encapsulated that spirit as much as thePuppet Phactory, whose founders, John Trevellini and Gregg Bellon, encouraged kids (and reporters) to take a good look at junk scattered around the booth – and hack a puppet.

“It’s more than just building the puppet. Hack-a-puppets are just people looking at junk in different ways,” said Trevellini, who had a ready answer for exactly how one “hacks” a puppet. “Hacking is looking at something and finding a different use for it – an alternative use for it. And it just sounds so good – hack. A. puppet.”

The puppets, made from such disparate items as vacuum cleaners (“If you plug it in, it still vacuums,” said Trevellini of that one), buckets, exercise equipment, discarded crafts items, ping-pong balls – “Interesting things. Things that articulate,” he said.

Few things articulate quite as well as a chorus of animatronic singing sea fauna attached to a Volvo, which proved to be a noisy hit at the fair.

Called the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir, the car – and its creator, Richard Carter, of Houston, Texas – have brought their act across the country, as far as Seattle and San Francisco, before making an appearance in Queens.

The scores of moving fish and lobsters are powered by 300 pounds of batteries and five miles of wires, and Carter said it took him and about 20 of his closest (and presumably rock ‘n’ roll-loving) friends fourth months to put the car together.

Asked why, of all things, a car mounted with dancing lobsters, Carter grinned widely and gave a practiced answer: “Once you have an idea like this, how can you not do it?”

For more information on Maker Faire, visit their website.