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Meet the Makerspace Makers and Attend our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference

1 Apr

It’s an exciting time in Tampa Bay!  When we held our first “Makerspace UnConference” at our first Maker festival in 2012, there were no full scale makerspaces in Tampa Bay.  The Faulhaber FabLab at the GWIZ Science Museum in Sarasota and Familab in Orlando were our two closest maker neighbors.  Learning is for Everyone was exploring the idea with potential collaborative partners, and a couple of other efforts were under consideration.

This year, we’re joined by four groups who have various programs underway and are excited to share their success and programs with Gulf Coast MakerCon attendees.  We’re happy to introduce them to you! They’ll be exhibiting at Gulf Coast MakerCon all weekend, and leading our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference on Sunday, April 6, at 4:30 pm, where you can learn more about these spaces, and how you can work to build more of them in your community.

Community Innovation Center at the John F. Germany Library 

new logoThe Community Innovation Center (CIC) at John F. Germany Library is a collaborative effort between 1939934_482287221897921_725617154_oLearning is for Everyone, Inc (  and the John F. Germany Library,   the flagship library of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System.   At 10,000 square feet, the CIC is the largest such facility in Tampa Bay and in Florida, and will function as a public Makerspace, an Entrepreneurship Center, a proving ground for Invention and Exploration, and the ultimate Creative Space,  providing the tools and human capital for fostering active creation, as well as the necessary knowledge for that creation.  The CIC, scheduled to open at the end of April,  is arranged into eight distinct, but flexible sections:

  • TechMasters Center
  • Entrepreneurial Center
  • Robotics Centers
  • Hands-On Workshop
  • Machine Shop
  • Media Lab & Studio
  • Arts Center
  • Computer Lab

CIC staff will be sharing some fun activities for our Young Makers section, and showcasing a little of what will be available in the space when it opens.

Faulhaber Fab Lab

Fab Lab logo

The Faulhaber Fab Lab is the oldest space in the area, currently moving to a new location in Sarasota, it bring high level manufacturing capabilities to the Gulf Coast area.  “A fab lab, ” explains representative, Eric McGrath, ” is a non-profit entity that has collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to assemble a diverse collection of state-of-the-art equipment and computers into one workspace as a community center for innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM education.”

fablab WorkshopsDr. Fritz Faulhaber and his wife Ping and through the Faulhaber Family Foundation are collaborating with the community of Sarasota to open the fab lab and be a central resource for invention and fabrication by individuals, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, retirees and business. The staff and volunteers in the community workshop instill the confidence for members to learn, design and safely operate computer-controlled machinery.

“The aim of a fab lab,” says Eric, ” is to teach advanced skills in design, innovation and how to make “almost anything”. These skill sets learned through nurturing the inventor in all of us can be applied in many careers. Business collaboration, workforce development and community innovation is an integral part of the Faulhaber Fab Lab.”

Visit for updates and information

Tampa Hackerspace

tampa hackerspaceTampa Hackerspace is a local community workshop organized to enable learning of technology skills by providing tools, space, equipment and classes.

“We are a non-profit, membership based institution, ” explains Tampa Hackerspace president, Bill Shaw. ” A broad selection of classes and workshops are open to both members and non-members.

“Every week we open our doors to the public and get together to build some cool projects and meet some very cool people. Join us to work on your stuff, bounce ideas off of members, check out the 3D printers and other equipment and socialize. Occasionally, we’ll throw in a small workshop or class. This is our best attended event and is a great opportunity to see what we do and meet our community.”

Tampa Hackerspace also hosts a Kid’s Open Make on Sunday Afternoons for crafts, electronics and technology projects, Minecraft, programming activities and more! Every month, they have a new theme and a host of new activities geared towards elementary and middle school students. Space is limited so they ask that you RSVP on to reserve a spot.

You can connect with Tampa Hackerspace:
Classes & Events:

Land O’ Lakes Library,  Pasco County Library System

The Lanedgar allan ohmsd O’Lakes Library in Pasco County has been exploring the idea of opening a makerspace in its library system for the past year, and made a name for itself this year, Pasco County Library Cooperativewhen it became the first library in the country to field a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team – the Edgar Allan Ohms! – who competed at the Orlando FRC Regional in March.  The Library is a trend setter, home to
one of the largest battle of the bands in the state (Rockus Maximus) and a popular anime convention (Lamecon) . A makerspace isn’t far behind!

The Land O’Lakes Library will be demoing their FRC robot, and showcasing free services and opportunities for job seekers and entrepreneurs. And you can apply for a library card, too!

Makerspace UnConference

Our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference will be held on Sunday, April 6th, at 4:30 pm at the Gulf Coast MakerCon stage.   As an “un” conference, it’s a casual opportunity to join in open discussion with these four very different spaces, that share a common interest in providing public creative spaces to build, learn and develop skills for hobby, personal satisfaction, and academic and career enrichment.   Join us to get ideas, share insights and find ways to collaborate in bringing more of these great spaces to Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast!


Meet the Maker: Jason Rawley, of Fireblade Comics

26 Mar

fireblade comics

We love the cosplay and gaming elements of our event this year, and are happy to welcome Jason Rawley of Fireblade Comics to our line up for Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014.  We asked him to tell us a bit about his work and what he’s bringing to our maker event.

GCMC: What do you do?

JR: Fireblade Comics began as my dream of producing online, live-action, interactive comics. As it’s developed over the years, I also incorporated my other works with custom action figures, props, and other collectibles.

GCMC: Why do you do it?

JR: I grew up in the 80’s as a huge fan of comics and movies and I was drawn to the realm of film making at an early age, especially special effects. Even as early as elementary school I Jasonwould create props and set pieces for the school plays. Art has always been in my veins so over the years I’ve done everything from graphic arts, website design, drawing, writing, and crafting. I’ve been building scale models for many years so that led to customizing action figures. Prop making became more of a demand as the cosplay community has grown, to the point where I get quite a few commissions throughout the year from people who come across my other works.

GCMC: Why do you think it’s important or valuable?

JR: I believe all art is important as self expression while is essential to us as humans. For those who get into cosplaying or collecting, this can be a great escape from the stress of normal life. So it’s always a privilege for me to be able to use my art to express myself while at the same time creating things people will use and appreciate for years.

GCMC: How long have you been doing it?

JR: I’ve been crafting, building, and customizing since early childhood so most people would say it was “all my life”.

GCMC: What do like best about it?

JR: As a form of self expression, being able to create things from my imagination is a wonderful release and a therapy. It’s taken me places and I’ve gotten to make many great friends over the years.

iron-man-unleashed-ver2-18GCMC: What are you bringing for folks to see or do at Gulf Coast MakerCon?

JR: I’ll be bringing a healthy selection of my customs including an array of props from sci-fi blasters to Ghostbuster gear as well as some action figure bases and displays. If possible I’ll bring some work-in-progress pieces so I can demonstrate how projects move through the construction phases.

GCMC: What do you hope to get out of your Makercon experience?

JR: I’m hoping to meet some good people with the same interests and fanboy fascinations as myself as well as get some feedback on my projects.

Come check out Jason’s awesome work at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5 & 6!  Get your discounted tickets today!

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Meet the Maker: Cameron Eckelberry, The Digital Berrybot

24 Mar

Cameron Eckelberry

We’ve got some Music Makers this year, at Gulf Coast Maker Con, including eclectic electric musician Cameron Eckelberry, performing under the name The Digital Berrybot.  We asked him to tell us a bit about himself and his work.

GCMC: What do you do?
CE: I write Electronic Music, I self-produce it and self-distribute it.

GCMC: Why do you do it? Why do you think it’s important?
CE: It makes me happy. Being lost an entire day in a sonic, creative adventure is what I live for. Not to mention, the possibility of giving someone a boost with an aesthetic, aural Cameron Eckelberrywaveband. Sometimes life can push someone down so hard that the only way to reach and bring up the person is the arts.

GCMC: How long have you been doing it?
CE: I started playing in Punk/Alt. Rock bands about 10 years ago, I started making electronic music though, about 7 years ago.

GCMC: What do like best about it?
CE: The freedom, making electronic music has empowered me to do whatever I want. Working in a band, you can be a bit restricted in regard to full artistic control, as it is generally run as a democracy. Don’t get me wrong though, that can lead to some fantastic outcomes.

GCMC: What are you bringing for folks to see or do at Gulf Coast MakerCon?
CE: I’m going to performing a live mix of my latest album . Every performance is different and I look forward to everyone getting their funk on!

GCMC: What do you hope to get out of your Makercon experience?
Technology always interests me, so I am really stoked to see all the cool gadgets people are building! Maybe we can get some cool collabs going?

Come get your funk on at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014!

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Meet the Maker: Carrie Boucher, of NOMADStudio

23 Mar

NOMADstudio Bus Logo

The diversity of Makers at this year’s DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit is truly wonderful, ranging from game makers to blacksmith artists to home scientists, and now a mobile art studio!  We’re very grateful that Carrie Boucher is bringing her amazing NOMADStudio art bus to Gulf Coast MakerCon.  

Here she tells us about her works with NOMADStudio and what she hopes to bring to Gulf Coast MakerCon, and check out her great TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2013 talk, below, about the power of freeing yourself of “the rules” and how that freedom unleashes creativity and achievement.

Carrie Boucher:  “I am an artist (metalsmith) and founder of NOMADstudio (the Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio). A crew of volunteers and I have converted a former Arlington Transit bus into a public art studio & classroom: the NOMAD Art Bus. Actually, the conversion is still underway, but we’re to the point that we can start getting the Art Bus out into the community so people can get on board, check it out and get creative with us!

NOMADstudio Debut at the 2014 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

NOMADstudio Debut at the 2014 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

“I founded NOMADstudio for several reasons. First of all I’ve always loved the idea of having an art studio on a bus. Building on that, after spending a year teaching art in an elementary/middle school environment I saw what lack of funding and focus on standardized tests were doing to our art classes. I was motivated to find a way to get more art programming out into our communities and saw the bus as a perfect vehicle to get us there…literally and figuratively.

“As the project developed it became clear to me that I wasn’t the only one who thought the idea of a studio on a bus was pretty cool. Just about everyone I spoke with got really excited about it and talked about what kinds of things they would like to do and see on the bus. So many jumped on board to help out because they wanted to see this idea become a reality. Right away it became a community project.

“We are really excited to be bringing the NOMAD Art Bus to MakerCon! When people discuss “maker culture” they often focus on artsthe modern technology aspect of it, but another fundamental aspect of it is creativity. Artistic endeavors are born from that same creative spirit and the lines between what artists do and makers do are often quite blurred…crafters and DIY-ers too, they are all innovators. Using your imagination to envision potential new uses for available raw materials, learning the skills to accomplish the project, then actually doing the work is the common equation used by all of these creatives. And getting them all to collaborate exponentially increases the potential for what can be created.

“That’s what makes events like Gulf Coast MakerCon really exciting! Being immersed in the DIY spirit is what NOMADstudio thrives on…and we love passing that spirit around…sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge! Get a group of creatives together and you’ve got a win-win every time!”

We couldn’t agree more!

Meet the Makers: The Florida Artist Blacksmith Association

22 Mar

FABAWe are very happy to welcome the Florida Artist Blacksmiths Association (FABA) to Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014.  This amazing group of artists teaches and promotes learning the skills of the blacksmith, and employing those skills for a variety of work ranging from the purely functional to the purely aesthetic.

We asked Blacksmith artist, Kirk Sullens, who will be representing the organization along with several other artists from around the state, to tell us about FABA and what they’re bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon.

“People become blacksmiths for as many reasons as there are blacksmiths,” Sullens said. ” A major factor for becoming a blacksmith is the satisfaction of learning to make projects entirely through your own skill.


Blacksmith Artist Kirk Sullens demonstrating his art.

“Being a blacksmith has value even in the modern age because it is a dynamic means of self expression as well as being extremely utilitarian. I like the mental challenge of working out which processes in what succession will be best to complete a project, as well as the physical challenge of actually applying those processes to raw materials and creating the project.”

FABA demonstrators will be bringing the basic equipment needed in a forge; hammer, anvil, and fire. Visitors will see bars of steel manipulated into a variety of forms, as well as seeing the demonstrators using tools made by themselves and other smiths. Demonstrators will discuss the basic processes of blacksmithing during the demonstrations, and tell the public how to get involved in the local and national blacksmithing community.

Come see what having a lot of irons in the fire really looks like!

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Meet the Maker: Tina Nicolai of Origami Owl Custom Jewelery

18 Mar

Origami OwlWe’re happy to have Origami Owl joining us again this year, with their awesomely il_570xN.571081612_l896 cool customizable lockets.

Lockets you create, says jeweler Tina Nicolai, “by selecting charms to tell your story. “


Tina Nicolai at last year’s Tampa Bay maker festival

“Last year, it was exciting to see the number of people who were inspired to create a keepsake as a special gift for a friend, or for themselves. I am looking forward to this year’s Gulf Coast MakerCon!”

And we look forward to seeing Tina there, with her great custom lockets!


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