Last Saturday night, Carla (my wife and editor-in-chief of CRAFT magazine) and I were judges in the first Dorkbake challenge, held at Machine Project in Echo Park, Los Angeles. A few weeks earlier, entrants who paid the $13.37 (heh heh) entry fee were issued a 100-Watt light bulb to use as the heating element for a home made oven.
The other two judges were Tom Jennings (an old friend and geek / artist / trailblazer extraordinaire), and Jonathan Gold, who writes the world's greatest restaurant column, Counter Culture, for The LA Weekly.
It wasn't easy choosing the best oven out of the eight that made it to the finals. Each oven was unique: a cardboard box with foam insulation, a disk drive enclosure, a Mac Classic, a terra cotta pot, an insulated bag dressed like a Viking opera singer, a cooler with a vacuum pump, a silver case, and a flying saucer. I sampled food cooked in each oven -- everything, from chicken with cheese and tomato sauce, to chocolate mint star cake with a cream filling, was delicious.
In the end, we chose Eric and Jodi Kurland's (AKA "Team Rosswell") elegant and playful flying saucer oven, which had a ring of blinking LEDs and a retrofuturistic tripod. Eric wore a gorilla suit and a home-made spaceman helmet with a robot voice changer, and his deadpan description of the oven was the highlight of the evening. Here's a video of Eric describing his and Jodi's oven.
My Flickr set of Dorkbake photos
Eric was dressed up like The Robot Monster from 1953. (Thanks, Coop!)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects