Stories of Tinkerpreneurs

indexWhat is a tinkerpreneur, you might justifiably ask?  Well, if you take a look at Michelle Malkin’s new book, Who Built That: Awe-inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs, you will begin to understand.  Malkin chose a number of little-known innovators who turned their ideas into commercial success and made such items as toilet paper, window glass, razor blades, and air conditioners items we take for granted.

In addition to being a columnist and news-woman, Malkin is a tinkerer.  The only problem with this is the failure rate of her inventions is fairly high.  She lists the following “contrivances gone wrong:”

  • a modified grill that exploded and nearly burned her eyebrows off,
  • a soda-bottle submarine that sank like concrete, and
  • a supply of marshmallow shooters clogged with sticky ammunition. (p.2)

light-cone-314071_640She takes such success stories as that of Tony Maglica – the inventor of the Maglite flashlight – and relates the roots of the person in a brief biography and shows what invention and good marketing can do to raise one from humble beginnings to a household name.  Maglica says “As long as I’m alive, I will never give up.”

Other successes she covers are Willis Carrier and Irvine Lyle.  One of those names is still heard today connected to the product they pioneered: the air conditioner.  Eventually, their product was sold to other businesses that prospered because of this invention: The American Chicle Company – maker of Chiclets, Whitman’s – the much loved chocolate company, and King Gillette’s razor empire – who solved a rust problem at the razor plant through conditioning the air.

razor-blade-220323_640Speaking of King Camp Gillette, Malkin also relates his rise to success with the story of the man whose name we all recognize as the inventor of the disposable blade and safety razor.  The biographies and histories of Westinghouse and Tesla, as well as others,can be found here.

If you like to tinker, and are motivated to take your inventions to market, you will find this book inspiring. (Conversely, Malkin takes her comments into the political arena, which may be off-putting.)

Pictures furnished by


Websites for Maker Inspiration

Looking for a new project? Instructables is a great place to start, or continue.  But, maybe you are looking for something new.  Here are a few websites we’ve been looking at lately.  (Like any website, we like them, but aren’t making any promises about how accurate the individual projects might be.) promotes itself as a site for all things frugal living, and that means lots of DIY.  We are particularly fond of this garden swing/firepit structure from  from budget101’s Facebook page.


We think Google Cardboard is a pretty fun project.  Download the template to make the viewer from cardboard (yes, that’s why it’s called Google Cardboard), download some apps to you smartphone, insert phone into viewer, and, Voila! your own virtual reality viewer. You can develop your own apps, too.

And don’t forget the Blue Ribbon Projects from previous Maker Faires. We know this list needs an update. It still provides some great ideas for your summer Making.

These would all make great Akron Mini Maker Faire projects.  Check out our Makers tab above for information on how you can be a Maker.

The Potato Project

Anyone who gardens is likely to agree there is nothing like a freshly dug potato from your own backyard.  We’ve been growing potatoes in our Akron garden for years, and believe us when we say they are delish!

But this year, we somehow bought too many seed potatoes for our backyard plot. What to do, what to do? We’ve heard of potatoes being grown in plants, pots, and even large trash bags, but had never tried it. Let’s give it a try, we thought.  But what sort of container would we use?

As luck would have it, a weekend garage clean-out turned up a 30-gallon trash container which was being used not for trash, but old towels.  Hmmmm, we thought.  This would make a dandy container for …  potatoes?

And so, the Potato Project was born. Follow along as we experiment with too many seed potatoes, a trash can looking for a reason to live, and some spud-lovin’ Makers to grow our own container potatoes.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

We took our handy hole saw …

... and made some holes in the bottom of the trash can.

… and made some holes in the bottom of the trash can.

We made some holes in the sides, too.

We made some holes in the sides, too.

Then, we put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.

Then, we put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.

Next, we filled the trash can about 1/3 full of compost and potting soil.

Next, we filled the trash can about 1/3 full of compost and potting soil.

WE dropped in 4 seed potatoes, and pushed them down into the compost/soil.

WE dropped in 4 seed potatoes, and pushed them down into the compost/soil,

watered it really well,

watered it really well,

and set it in a sunny corner of the garden.

and set it in a sunny corner of the garden. 


What is a “Maker Faire?”

As they tell us on the original Maker Faire website:

photo (1)“We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth. Maker Faire is part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new! As a celebration of the Maker Movement, it’s a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Faire gathers together tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, 20150530_152830engineers, science clubs, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. Makers come to show their creations and share their learnings. Attendees flock to Maker Faire to glimpse the future and find the 20150330_174831inspiration to become Makers themselves.”

Don’t miss out on the Akron Mini Maker Faire!


Cleveland Mini Maker Faire June 6

For everyone who can’t wait all the way until September to go the a local Mini Maker Faire in Akron, strap on your walking shoes and head on up to Cleveland CMMFfor the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire on June 6 at the Cleveland Public Library.

Last year, the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire had over 100 (!) Makers.  We can’t wait to join the fun.

You might still be able to get in as a Maker.  Fill out the Call for Makers on their website, and then email Emily Applebaum at Ingenuity Cleveland to let her know you’ve applied.

See you there!


Canadian Sets Hoverboard Record

Lots of you have probably heard about the Guinness World Record for a hoverboard flight, but we think its cool enough to share one more time.

CNET reports Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru has designed and built a hoverboard which he flew for over 900 feet. You can catch the full report here.

We gotta ask: Catalin Alexandru Duru, do you want to be a Maker?


Really, truly, officially

The 2015 Akron Mini Maker Faire really will be Saturday, September 19. The hours truly will be noon to 4 pm.  It officially will happen at the Main Library in downtown Akron. Crowds will fill our Atrium and Lobby, cruise through our Garden Trio Corridor, wander through and be amazed by all the Maker exhibits filling our first floor.  It will, once again, be fun and inspiring for all.

And the part all Makers want to know about: the Call for Makers will be July 10-August 22.  Please remember to fill out the online form which we’ll post during those dates.  Even if you’ve been telling us all along how you can’t wait to show your stuff. Because, we’d hate for anything else to slip through the cracks.

If it’s on the internet, it’s gotta be right. And now it is.

Make on.


A Day at the Flea

The Cleveland Flea.

Last Saturday was a perfect day to stroll the Mothers’ Day Flea in the Tyler Village area of Cleveland (E 36 St and Superior Ave, just east of I-90).  We met lots of cool Makers, crafters, and upcyclers, including American Renaissance Architectural Salvage, Frost Glass, Gina DiSantis,  Kimberly Monaco, and Retread Akron.

We had some awesome eats at the Wholly Frijoles foodtruck.

Finally, we bought something! Farin Blackburn works calligraphic magic  to create these fun coasters – the perfect gift for a home-brewer OSU grad in our life. Next time, we’re bringing more money to get some Akron coasters for ourselves.



Spring is in the air

and a Makers fancy turns to thoughts of …

Car Restoration!

Take a look at what some Akron-area Makers have been up to. Then send us your photos.20150330_174840


Battlebots are Coming

robot1Robot-builders, listen up!  Our local makerspace, Synhak, is hosting a weekly robot build and compete workshop on Thursdays 7:00-10:00 pm.

Click here for to see the MeetUp announcement for this week’s meeting.robot2