Shop Etsy


Mark Frauenfelder: Maker Dad

Jun 5, 2014

by Lisa Butterworth handmade and vintage goods

When Boing Boing founder and Make magazine editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder started looking for a book with DIY projects he could do with his two daughters, he came up woefully short. “When I looked at the geek dads-style books, the projects didn’t really appeal to my daughters. And when I looked at books that were geared toward mothers and girls, the projects didn’t appeal that much to me,” he says. So Mark and his daughters decided to find DIY activities that they would all be interested in. The result is Frauenfelder’s new book, Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects


From silkscreening T-shirts and writing computer code for a video game to creating other-worldly edibles, there’s nothing stereotypically pink or sparkly about these projects (unless you want there to be). And creating the book was a full-on family affair. Sarina, Frauenfelder’s 16-year-old, said the projects gave her the opportunity to “be creative and spend time with [her dad] doing something fun.”And what did 11-year-old Jane get out of the experience? “She told me she likes the book because ‘astronaut ice cream is yummy,’” Frauenfelder says. Etsy caught up with the author to talk about creating with kids, the inspiration of soap, and the most important lesson he’s learned from DIY.

How involved were your daughters in the project process? Was Maker Dad a collaboration?

I think so. One example is, we were here in Venice, California, looking at some stores and we saw these little soaps that had been molded out of plastic doll arms. My daughter thought they were really bizarre but cool and I thought, We could make soap like that, I’ll bet. So we looked it up and saw that you could get glycerin soap that you could melt in the microwave and silicone rubber to make molds — that was totally a collaborative thing. Some of [the projects] my daughter came up with all by herself like, Mixie Sticks, a game of little colored blocks that snap together with magnets; you mix them up and then try to match them as quickly as you can, a race against the clock. Some things were completely my idea, so it was a mix of all of us.


Observing the Drawbot, a gadget that draws circular patterns.

The book features a number of tech projects, which is an area that girls are almost always excluded from.

So many of these books geared toward girls steer away from electronics, technology, and power tools, but when I go to Maker Faire [a Make-sponsored event celebrating DIY culture] and I look at the Learn How to Solder workshops, I see an equal number of girls taking the workshop as guys. So it’s like, all you have to do is introduce them to these topics and you’ll find out that girls are as interested as boys in this kind of stuff. I really wanted to make sure I had some examples about computer programming, electronics, soldering, tools, and power tools, because I saw that my girls, especially my 11-year-old, Jane, was very interested in all those kinds of things. I hope that more people start doing that too.


Make a giant bubble wand.

I don’t have kids, but there was even one project that I got really excited about: how to create a podcast.

That was a really fun one. Jane and I have a podcast that’s called Apps for Kids. She loves doing the podcast and has little business cards that she hands out to people, so I thought, We have so much fun doing it together, I’ll bet other parents and kids would have fun doing a podcast together too. It’s a great way to have a conversation with each other, learn from each other, and then you also learn good computer skills, too, like editing sound files.

As a dad who’s done these projects with your daughters, what would you tell other dads about what they might get out of making things with their kids based on your own experience?

One thing I think they’ll get is patience. [laughs] It’s going to take a lot longer to do a project than if you just take over and do it yourself. You have to hand the tools over to the kids and realize that they’re going to make cuts that aren’t straight, drill holes in the wrong places, be sloppier with the paint than you might be, but that’s just part of learning. You’re also going to learn that they want to try, they have their own ideas about how things should look that might not match yours. But that’s a good thing, I think, and it’s going to also teach kids compromise and bargaining. You get the whole operation.


  • venusian01

    venusian01 said 2 years ago

    Love this! Very cool. I remember doing projects as a little kid with my dad. "father-daughter" projects and breaking the mold of traditional girls' education. Would definitely get this book.

  • smittenkittenkendall

    Kendall McCulloch from SmittenKittenKendall said 2 years ago

    Such a great article! I'm so happy to see a maker book for girls that doesn't exclude them from doing cool things because of their gender. I'm really excited to check out this book and recommend it to my library customers :)

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 2 years ago

    Great article ! thanks !

  • SomeKindOfPretty

    Catheryn Dallenbach from SomeKindOfPretty said 2 years ago

    Such a great idea!! I think this is a wonderful idea!! :-)

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 2 years ago

    This is wonderful and such a great way to include and spend time with your daughters! Love <3

  • JosiesBeadedJewelry

    JAC from CURRICULUMjewelry said 2 years ago

    Thanks for inspiring families to break out of the princess roles for girls!!! Looks like a great book!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 2 years ago

    A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. ~Enid Bagnold

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 2 years ago

    Yay! Great idea for girls and dads.


    AGORAA from AGORAA said 2 years ago

    Very nice, thank you for sharing!

  • AnnaKiper

    Anna from ParisDecorPrints said 2 years ago


  • laramored

    Anemone from AnemoneReadsVintage said 2 years ago

    I followed Mark a bit when I was reading Boing-Boing - always interesting and inspiring guy! And what a great book - I was definitely closer to my dad than my mom when I was growing up, so I love the idea of this book and highlighting that special dad-daughter bond. Thanks for the article and interview!

  • frameyourstory

    FrameYourStory from Frameyourstory said 2 years ago

    awesome :)

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 2 years ago

    Wonderful book! It brings fathers and daughters closer together!

  • HabitNationUSA

    Rebecca and Daniel from HabitNationUSA said 2 years ago

    Fantastic! It is so important for girls to have that closeness with dad and have the opportunity for hands on experiences they will learn from and always cherish. It is amazing how positive a small project with dad can influence a young girl as she grows into a woman later in life.

  • ColourscapePrints

    Kelly and Kelly from ColourscapeStudios said 2 years ago

    That last paragraph is beautiful.... my partner and I have a (very) strong willed two year old and we're already learning that doing things with her might take longer, and it will definitely not look like what we had expected it to, but in the end, who cares... as long as she had fun creating!

  • baetensjosien

    Josien from JeTrouve said 2 years ago

    so wonderful!

  • kjazmin20

    Jazmin Marquez from CuteMuseStationery said 2 years ago

    very very clever

  • StillVintage

    StillVintage from StillVintage said 2 years ago

    Sounds like a great book to create a father-daughter bond

  • aSmaOriGinal

    Asma from AsmaOriginal said 2 years ago

    So needed!

  • PepitasStudio

    Pepitas House from PepitasStudio said 2 years ago

    Sounds like a great book.

  • lovelygifts

    Linda from lovelygifts said 2 years ago

    Great post!

  • kaspicrafts

    Kaspi Crafts from KaspiCrafts said 2 years ago

    I love that last bit about how kids have their own ideas of how something should look. Since we are little we are taught to color inside the lines, and I think the best would be to let go of these silly rules that sometimes hinder creativity.

  • peachtreepark

    Bradley and Talena from PeachtreePark said 2 years ago

    Awesome! With two young girls, and a very diy dad around here, this book WILL be in our collection!

  • rosebudshome

    rosebudshome from rosebudshome said 2 years ago

    That is how kids learn, hands on, you have to let them try even if it kills you. Not cutting straight? oh no!

  • BlueMoonLights

    Alexandra Simons from BlueMoonLights said 2 years ago

    Great post! Love everything about it. There are so many things kids can learn from these father daughter projects, and adults too.

  • TheGlowingSkin

    TheGlowingSkin from TheGlowingSkin said 2 years ago

    I have to admit - when I read the title, I expected a dad in a garage workshop making a toy boat with his sons. This is quite refreshing in that girls and dad are figuring out stuff organically to do while having fun in the process. Cool read.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 2 years ago

    Great idea! Wish somebody had thought of this when I was a kid.

  • SuzisPillowStudio

    Suzi from ThePillowStudioShop said 2 years ago

    I am so inspired right now. I can not wait for my two daughters to get home from school to tell them about this! Thanks

  • BumbleflyDesigns

    Timothy Millard from BumbleflyDesigns said 2 years ago

    The bond between a father and his children is priceless! Not only does this book provide great activities for fathers to do with their daughters but it also allows fathers to provide strong examples for their daughters of what they should seek out in a spouse. Activities that can be done together open lines of communication and show our daughters that they matter and that spending time with them is a priority. Well done!

  • glendalee

    glenda puhek from glendalee said 2 years ago

    You reminded me of how often my dad helped me through art school, helping me with last minute projects. He didn't like me messing with his power tools, and he didn't always understand what I was making, but if I said it was just like it was supposed to me he'd shrug and say, "Well, okay!" Hope all the dads have great days!

  • AustinModern

    Elle from ChaseAndScoutDesign said 2 years ago

    My husband turned me on to BB when we first met and Mark even mentioned our Mid Mod B&M once! Love to checkout BB when I have a few spare minutes to sit down and read - Good job on the book Mark!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    kathy johnson from ShoeClipsOnly said 2 years ago

    Looks like some fun and exciting ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  • busybonniebee

    Bonnie Becker from busybonniebee said 2 years ago

    Ooh, super exciting. I know what someone's getting for father's day!

  • inspiringanchors

    Megan Braswell from inspiringanchors said 2 years ago

    Awesome, awesome, awesome idea! As a grown woman I still want to work with power tools and overall 'guy' stuff. Not to mention doing any kind of project with your children and learning together is great and what a niche in the market for a Dad + Daughter book!

  • FieldsOfVintage

    C. Lydia from FieldsOfVintage said 2 years ago

    Such great ideas!

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 2 years ago

    Fantastic and inspiring maker Dad!

  • ArtisanSoapInVegas

    Cristy Ramos from ArtisanBathandBody said 2 years ago

    Love reading this. When I first started making soap, I remembered myself buying glycerin soap base, then I learned how to do it myself; my children enjoyed every creation, from a plain and funny figure to our own ideas, like putting so much herbs, clays, milk, and a few extracts in the soap base, we learned many things and we grow as a family by sharing time and experiences; and how to forget that soapy and clean mess!!! Then we learned a few other things and crafts, we enjoy our time together, learning and creating.

  • LnRworks

    R. Anne from LnRworks said 2 years ago

    What amazing ideas! Looks like lots of fun!

  • debvasbinder

    Deb Vasbinder from BabyCuteBaby said 2 years ago

    Great Father - Daughter Fun Time well spent.

  • HomeStudio

    Stef and Mark from HomeStudio said 2 years ago

    perfect! father/daughters need more time together especially during the summer.

  • GUtSSY

    Kasia Bourke from NoandEl said 2 years ago

    Inspiring. Dad and daughter projects are wonderful...this book sounds like a great father's day present.

  • farandtwee

    Vintage Minnow from VintageMinnow said 2 years ago


  • GiveaGadget

    Rita from OnceLostBoutique said 2 years ago

    Happy to see such a GREAT FAMILY !

  • jizbasusan

    Susan Jizba from TheWeaverOfWords said 2 years ago

    such a wonderful post!! I think that must be such an amazing way to create and think outside of the box when you get a dad and 2 daughters to collaborate in creating projects for a book that's fun for everyone... and by the way, what an amazingly COOL Dad, Mark is!!!

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 2 years ago


  • Nikifashion

    Natalia from Nikifashion said 2 years ago

    Awesome idea!

  • lillebeart

    Amy from lillebeart said 2 years ago

    I agree that exposure is key. I spent my childhood following my engineering dad around his workshop, and 30+ years later are tweaking so many of those techniques in my art. Not only is the father/daughter time important, but creating a diverse opportunity of interests is vital. Great highlighted post.

  • PiacereMioPaperie

    Nancy from PiacereMioPaperie said 2 years ago

    We need that book at our house!!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • kicjamdesigns

    Kevin and Christina from KicJamDesigns said 2 years ago

    Hey, let's get started! Thanks for some great ideas (love the idea of a podcast).

  • WingedWorld

    Vickie Moore from WingedWorld said 2 years ago

    Thank you, Mark, for including science and technology-based projects for girls in your incredibly creative book! My daughter is just as interested in those subjects as any boy and hopes to be an engineer some day.

  • muffintopdesigns

    cy and d from TheLovelySmith said 2 years ago

    so very cool! as the mom of 2 little girls, I can usually find things to do with them that are "girly", but my husband sometimes struggles to get out of "tea party" mode! these are some awesome ideas for them to explore! thanks!!!!

  • Bridalize

    Xiu Li from Bridalize said 2 years ago

    Love it. I don't have kids, but my nieces would really enjoy it. =)

  • fieldtrip

    Amy from fieldtrip said 2 years ago

    i love the concept of your book mark! it's an angle on projects i hadn't thought of exploring with kids - and a very important one that i think would be great for their development - and for some fun bonding time too :)

  • boonwoodLV

    Klik Klak Blocks from KlikKlakBlocks said 2 years ago

    Amazing! This is what children really need - spending their time having fun with their parents while in the same time learning some really great things! Wonderful!

  • rdboyer

    Robert from rdboyer said 2 years ago

    DIY projects for parents and kids is a great idea : )

  • lannapants

    Bangkokpants Pants from bangkokpants said 2 years ago

    Awesome project

  • ethnocity

    Rachna from ethnocity said 2 years ago

    Great idea..would love to read the book.

  • Laladesignstudio

    Lala Jewelry from Laladesignstudio said 2 years ago

    What a great book! I was my fathers side kick growing up. The projects we did together taught me how to be confident using tools.

  • LavaStudio

    Jill from LavaStudio said 2 years ago

    Such a fun idea! This would ne a great Father's Day gift!

  • Lousje

    Marlous P from Lousje said 2 years ago

    How awesome! Very neat idea :)

  • paulawinks

    Paula Mucha from ilPiccoloGiardino said 2 years ago

    Beautiful and inspiring to see the loving family interaction. Kudos!

  • sidhehulk

    Joy from TheJoyofRemembrance said 2 years ago

    Kudos to you for reaching out to do meaningful things with your daughters. And hey, it looks like you're having fun!

  • juliecriswell

    Julie Criswell from juliecriswell said 2 years ago

    I love Make Magazine. Gotta have the book! Great Father's Day or girls birthday or holiday present. I took shop classes as a kid: metal, wood, drafting, welding and it develops another way of looking at things. Wish I had taken auto shop too.

  • ada00888

    Ada S from KingdomOfShang said 2 years ago

    Very nice, thank you for sharing!

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 2 years ago

    Excellent to see fathers and daughters working and playing together.

  • weeklytreasurehunt

    Jess from WeeklyTreasureHunt said 2 years ago

    I love this book! Can't wait to see all the projects my husband and daughter have fun creating during their quality time!

  • misschristiana

    Christiana Odum from YarnDarlin said 2 years ago

    This is way awesome!

  • clareyclayworks

    Anne Clarey from ClareyClayworks said 2 years ago

    ---------WHAT A FUN DAD!!!-------------- keep it up!

  • CatShyCrafts

    Cathy Pascual from CatshyCrafts said 2 years ago

    Awesome! What a great Father's Day Gift!

  • mygoddess

    indre from HelloMyGoddess said 2 years ago

    What a refreshing outlook on DIY crafts! Great post!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 2 years ago

    Great projects!

  • doublebrush

    Cheryl from doublebrush said 2 years ago

    Wonderful! Bonding through creativity, and you get cool products that you made together in the end!

  • kristybeary

    Kristy Bear from KristyBeary said 2 years ago

    Cool ideas

  • boutiqueseragun

    Zehra from boutiqueseragun said 2 years ago

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • tartnonion

    Chris Perry said 2 years ago

    Kudos for championing us fathers who love their kids.

  • JaspersRomance

    Anna Buitendorp from ASplendidStory said 2 years ago

    Very forward thinking concept, and a great way to look at father/daughter time! Best wishes to you!

  • Clarannie

    Annie from AnniesChicBowtique said 2 years ago

    Great blog !! Thanks for sharing awesome ideas to spend quality time with your father/children.

  • NsewFabrics

    NsewFabrics from NsewFabrics said 2 years ago

    Looks like a FAB book :) Good Luck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • OldMillVintage

    OldMillVintage from OldMillVintage said 2 years ago

    Great Blog... and super quality time ideas :)

  • tiffanyfinkle

    Tiffany Finkle said 2 years ago

    What a crafty idea! I love it

  • Setlla

    Setlla Cai from RainbowSilk said 2 years ago

    Wonderful book! Beautiful and inspiring to see the loving family interaction.

  • lowelowejewelry

    Lowe Jewelry from lowelowejewelry said 2 years ago


  • TomboyGirly

    TomboyGirly from FashionRenovation said 2 years ago

    so so cool. pure etsy.

  • ashleysarkisian

    Ashley Sarkisian from JohnnieBlueBowTie said 2 years ago

    What an awesome idea!

  • ozgecaliskan

    Özge Çalışkan from palasxpandiras said 2 years ago

    great photos!

  • TechnoChic

    Natasha Dzurny from TechnoChic said 2 years ago

    MAKE: + Etsy!!!!!! My dreams have come true! Thanks for inspiring girls with technology! Your work will make a huge impact on the future of the tech industry- girls rock!

  • suzanneartist

    Suzanne Urban from SmirkingGoddess said 2 years ago

    Nifty, nifty, nifty! su

  • illuminativeharvest

    Jennifer Presler from IlluminativeHarvest said 2 years ago

    Great ideas!

  • CarolynsStampStore

    Carolyn Hasenfratz from CarolynsStampStore said 2 years ago

    My Dad showed me how to use tools when I was pretty young and we still make stuff together sometimes! Showing me how to use a soldering iron at age 6 didn't work out so well but that's how you learn!

  • sagebespoke

    Adela Sivewright from sagebespoke said 2 years ago

    Oh yes! My Dad and I made fried rice together and he taught me how to polish my bike - inbetween the spokes. I still make fried rice his way but sadly don't have my indi 500 anymore ( it would be vintage now).

  • TanaAnns

    Tana Stephens from TanaAnns said 2 years ago

    Thank you Lisa!

  • Dogdohr

    Joanne Dohr from Dogdohr said 2 years ago

    I love these dad stories !

  • anordicrose

    virginie lykins from anordicrose said 2 years ago

    My papa was my hero, I thought of him as the father in ' Swiss family robinson', able to make anything out of nothing, and always happy to spend time with his children..... We never had any money when I was a kid, but I had a very creative childhood... a start that has had a strong influence in my life. Merci Papa !

  • muchandquick

    Kalisa L. from MuchandQuick said 2 years ago

    Let the girls hammer and saw to build their own forts! Let the boys mix and measure and make their own cupcakes! Gendered play is boring, I'm all for taking down arbitrary borders and letting kids explore all the games and crafts that will guide them towards skills later in life! I spent my childhood playing with Barbies and running around as a tomboy in equal measure and I am thankful for parents that did not hem me into a particular behavior one way or the other.

  • vectorvintageshop

    Vector Vintage from vectorvintageshop said 2 years ago

    so special!

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 2 years ago

    thanks for the sharing, great!

Sign in to add your own