Friday, June 22, 2018
Events

Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire offers world of builder delights

An award-winning Star Wars Millennium Falcon outfitted with Mac and PC parts, a truck with working Wi-Fi, a penguin made from typewriter parts and scrap metal, a ray gun necklace and robots are just some of the Upcycled Studio creations set to dazzle attendees Saturday at the second annual Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire in Shady Hills.

Holiday couple Diana and Ken Swallow, the creative duo behind the collaboration called Upcycled Studio, are making their debut at the event. Diana makes jewelry from brass, copper and sterling silver, along with as many recycled materials as possible, such as gears, vintage buttons, electronics, found objects and "anything that could look good in jewelry." Ken makes sculptures from scrap metal, electronics, old typewriters, vintage items and "mostly things that other people see as junk."

Along with their sculptures and jewelry, the couple will have a display for attendees to guess what several different parts come from.

Before forming Upcycled Studio, Ken installed burglar alarms for ADT, while Diana was a graphic designer for Valpak. After a series of job losses, Ken started making things with old computer parts that he had lying around the house. The Swallows posted a Facebook photo of Ken's Trike Bike, which was so well received that it prompted them to start selling their designs on Etsy, a website that allows artists to set up virtual shops.

The Swallows began selling their work separately, under the names Diana Swallow Designs and KenArt or KenBots. After building a large Internet following, they joined forces and created Upcycled Studio, allowing them to participate in shows together under one name.

Last year, the Orlando Mini Maker Faire organizers found Ken's work on Etsy and invited them to attend.

"I had no idea what to expect because he's the geeky one," Diana said with a laugh. "I had never heard of a Maker Faire and he had only heard of them online."

The Orlando Mini Maker Faire was full of things that Diana couldn't have imagined.

"I was sitting in our booth and R2-D2 came by," Diana said. "How often does that happen? Then it became a parade of R2-D2s."

The Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire is a regional offshoot of the California-based Maker Faire sponsored by MAKE magazine, which began in 2006. Since its inception, Maker Faire has begun supporting regional events around the country. Last year, the nonprofit Learning is 4 Everyone organized the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire's inaugural event at the University Area Community Center in Tampa.

This year's local event expects about 30 inventors, creators and organizations displaying their wares, several workshops on topics like patent and invention development and sparking creativity, and many hands-on activities at the event's new venue at the Concourse.

The gathering brings its unique blend of science fair and carnival ambiance to Pasco County largely because last year's event drew such an unexpectedly big crowd.

"(Last year's event) went really well," said Terri Willingham, Mini Maker Faire coordinator and president of Learning is 4 Everyone. "That's why we moved to a larger facility. We were modestly hoping we'd get 150 people and we had about 350 people."

The venue isn't the only new thing. The Deconstruction Zone hands-on exhibit, winner of the 2013 Deconstruction Award, will allow kids to deconstruct old furniture and electrical appliances like radios, toasters and drills to see what they look like inside.

Willingham said her favorite moment during the debut of the Deconstruction Zone at the USF Engineering Expo in February was one of silence. When the kids realized that they would be able to take things apart without worrying about breaking anything, they were speechless.

"(The Faire is) to celebrate a more productive culture, so we can be active producers, instead of passive consumers," Willingham said. "This is a really fun way to introduce kids and adults and people of all ages to the idea that we are all makers."

Samantha Fuchs can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6235.

Comments
See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color yo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

What's it like to start a family when you're working for the CIA? Jihi and Andrew Bustamante know.
Updated: 8 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride’s popular parade has moved to downtown St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at...
Published: 06/22/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Summer Classic Movie Series: See 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 3 p.m., Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. $10, $7 members. (813) 274-8982; tampatheatre.org.St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue’s Grand Central Distr...
Published: 06/22/18
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Published: 06/21/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train : The legendary number-one selling duo and Train perform full sets and a joint set. Kandace Springs opens. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$125. (813) 301-2500; amaliearena.com.St. Pete ...
Published: 06/21/18
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Pińa Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Pińa Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18