Traditional Arts at the Champlain Mini-Maker Faire!

What do the traditional arts have in common with the Maker Movement?

On Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24 Kathleen and Andy brought the Vermont Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program on the road to the Champlain Mini Maker Faire at Shelburne Farms.  Kathleen and Andy were joined by Somali-Bantu instrument maker and musician, Mohamed Bulle and Abenaki artist and educator, Judy Dow.


Mohamed brought with him a collection of drums and a shareero, a six-stringed lyre. Over the course of the day he built a new drum using a wide PVC pipe for the body and hide for the head. Judy brought a collection of her baskets - made with materials ranging from traditional ash splints to wire to cardboard strips cut from cereal boxes. Judy also brought an extensive collection of innovative student mapping projects to highlight her educational work.

Regional Maker Faires are expos that promote engagement with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics)—inclusive of everything from robotics to 3-D printing to solar cars, as well up-cycled clothing, sci-fi costuming and (in our local case) the world’s largest spirograph!

Maker Faires serve as the public face of the Maker movement – a loosely organized collection of hobbyists and professionals exploring the intersection of creativity and Do It Yourself science, technology and art. Above all else, Maker Faires provide a platform for people showcase their work with the goal of  inspiring others to go out and create on their own.

A selection of Judy's baskets and her students' maps.

A selection of Judy's baskets and her students' maps.

Many of the creative forms with which we we work lend themselves well to a Maker context - they are rooted in a DIY ethic, learned by doing, and shaped by impulses tied to both continuity and innovation. From a sciences perspective they can be explored as physical processes that bring change to materials - whether we are talking about pounding brown ash logs with a sledge hammer to create splints for basket making, the physics of a blacksmith's forge, or the properties of different types of local stone and the proper tools and techniques employed to shape them into something new.

In addition to these things, our Traditional Arts Program also allows us to talk about culture, history and place - particularly in relation to Vermont. In a Maker context it affords the opportunity to undertake something we feel is absolutely vital: bridging the humanities and sciences in personal, meaningful and engaging ways.

We had a great day, and we're looking forward to returning next year! Big thanks to the Champlain Valley Mini Maker Faire for making it possible for us to be a part of it!