The Mini Maker Faire



I took these photos at Summerhall, at the Mini Maker Faire that was held there on 7th April as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

This man was playing a wooden xylophone at the time. The slightly dreamy look is him keeping time as he beat out a constantly changing melody and rhythm.

When I took this photo, he was probably about twenty minutes into a continuous piece that went on for another twenty minutes or more. The wooden pads on the xylophone made a sound that brought to mind music from South East Asia.

It was quite something, and because there were people all around doing other things, it was easy to just get into a trance with his mussic hammering out a gentle backdrop to the afternoon.

Fly Agaric Fire Education

The xylophone player stopped for the performance by this man, Ruaraidh Milne, from Fly Agaric whose business card states:

Trapeze, circus skills, environmental education, fire shows and more..


What he was doing here was showing how centripetal force plus oxygen plus fire plus a flammable material behaves. He’s holding a bullwhip and he first explained how bullwhips work, which is by the wave created by cracking the whip being forced along the constantly narrowing diameter along its length.

I always thought that the little bit of string or leather tied onto the end of a bullwhip was for decoration. Little did I know that it’s an essential part of the design.

Because the wave is being forced to occupy a smaller cross-sectional area as it travels, it has to speed up – hence the crack.

Then he lit the bullwhip, which he had bathed in paraffin, and it burned. But it didn’t make a big whoosh of flame – it just burned merrily.

But when he cracked it, the flammable liquid and the flame were forced out of the end of the bullwhip at speed. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

He was terrifically entertaining and a great educator.

Painting skulls

Inside Summerhall I saw kids decorating skulls. The decoration and the skulls themselves were all made of sugar and I couldn’t help but think that there was a certain gusto with which the kids were doing it. I mean, come on, these are skulls – as in dead people.

It reminded me of the Day Of The Dead in Mexico.

Skull work from Mahala le May – check out her site for more decorated skulls and a stop-motion dancing skull.


Tinkering With Electronics

There were a lot of computer engineers tinkering with bits of micro circuitry that did everything from sketching the Mona Lisa to powering tiny cars around a track.

There was also a Tesla generator spitting arcing sparks onto light bulbs to power them. I saw the film The Prestige on TV a while ago and when I googled for Tesla (played by David Bowie in the film) I discovered there is quite a mystique about Tesla and his life. The Oatmeal made an infographic about his life.

Remade In Edinburgh

There were also crafty things at the Mini Maker Faire – including a Remade In Edinburgh which describes itself as follows:

REMADE in Edinburgh is a community-led initiative to create a reuse and repair centre in South Edinburgh. The centre will host courses and workshops, converting things that would be thrown away into useful objects, training people in new skills, and promoting a zero-waste Edinburgh as an alternative to a culture of cheap disposable items.

So if you are in or around Edinburgh – you might want to contact them if you have something to donate or want to join in.

Tech Notes

I shot the portrait and the fire photo with an Olympus E-PM1 with 45mm lens – and I shot the skull with my iPhone.


  1. timethief says:

    This post was a fabulous read and delight to the eyes. It sounds like you had a good time at the Mini Maker Faire. Remade In Edinburgh sounds great group to take part in.


    1. I’m a sucker for anything educational – and I get a kick out of seeing people who are committed to the hobbies, experiments, etc. about which they are passionate.

      I didn’t mention in the article, but there was a bicycle maker’s club there. They had made wooden bicycles and even bicycles on top of bicycles – with the riders way up in the air. I should have taken photos… oh well. 😉


      1. timethief says:

        Please put that on your list of future posts because I’d love to see what the bicycle makers club has come up with.


        1. Will do.


  2. Maria says:

    Whole new take on the phrase, “Set the world on fire”
    – and of course your talent for portraiture, once again, leaves me in awe.


    1. Awe –

      Aw shucks 😉


  3. Just to let you know, Remade in Edinburgh will be back at Mini Makers Faire this year. Looking forward to it! Meanwhile, anyone who’d interested in learning repair and reuse skills can check out our website, or come along to Guthrie St on any Weds evening 7-9pm for our free drop-in session.


    1. Thank you for the update. I shall look out for ‘Remade’ at the fair this year. When is the fair being held?


      1. Sunday April 20th, at Summerhall again.


        1. Can we meet up there? I could do an article on Remade.


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