BY PAUL BICKLEY
“It fuels our community’s inner geek.” That’s how Steven Backs, adult-audience strategist at the Monroe County Public Library and woodworking member of Bloominglabs, describes Makevention, an annual convention of local makers. The Makevention website defines “makers” as “crafters, inventors, tinkerers, builders, designers, gadgeteers, artists, engineers, scientists, and everything in between.”
This year, the Monroe County Public Library is partnering with Bloominglabs to host the fourth annual Makevention, which will be 10 a.m.–4 p.m. August 27 at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center. Those attending can try their hand at soap making, creating wristbands by sewing LEDs into discarded textiles, and crafting medieval- and Renaissance-style weapons and clothing. Among its many displays, the convention will feature green-screen technology, robotics, lock-picking games, and a computer program (used by only 1,600 people worldwide) that helps engineers build automobile engines.
Though some exhibitors sell their creations, Jenett Tillotson, an Indiana University Research Technologies programmer and Bloominglabs’ co-founder, says Makevention is more than a fair. “Most of the exhibitors just like solving a problem and making something, and Makevention gives them a place to show it off,” Tillotson says.
Backs says the appeal of Makevention is that it is inviting and interactive. “It lets parents expose kids to new ideas at an accessible, friendly, easy-to-take-in event at which exhibitors show not only what they’ve made, but their making processes, as well,” he says.
Half of the exhibitors, Tillotson says, are members of Bloominglabs, a nonprofit maker space at 1609 S. Rogers St., Building Four. The space is rented by members, who share materials, equipment, and know-how. The group meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. for open-hack meetings where all ages are welcome to come, ask questions, teach things, and build stuff, according to the group’s website.
According to Tillotson and Backs, Makevention is growing. Twenty-seven makers exhibited last year; 30 are expected this year. And while 1,200 people attended last year, they expect between 1,500 and 2,000 to show up for this year’s event. Admission is free, though donations will be accepted at the door. For more information, visit makevention.org and bloominglabs.org.