Tinkertopia: converting trash to treasure

1950s old timey music plays softly on a donated record player. One woman sews while another cuts apart tin cans.
This idyllic scene comes from Adult Craft night at Tinkertopia, a newly opened downtown Tacoma upcycled creative space and art rummaging shop on Pacific Ave.
The imaginatively decorated shop features old goods for purchase such as bowling pins, burlap sacks and everything in between. Items in the shop were all donated by businesses or individuals.
Tinkertopia is the brainchild of husband and wife team Darcy and R.R Anderson. “[We] were at a crossroads and both of us needed to do something that was fulfilling,” said Darcy.
Inspiration for Tinkertopia came from other existing spaces in the Pacific Northwest area such as UrbanSource in Vancouver B.C, Creation Station in Lynwood, and Scraps in Portland.  The purpose behind this space is to use discarded items that would otherwise end up in a landfill, rethinking their purpose and creating something new.
Tinkertopia customers can purchase a premade bag with the materials and instructions necessary to create something fun such as action figures, puppets and spy gear, or they can purchase a bag and “stuff it with all the goodies and textures and bits and pieces,” said Darcy.
From there you have the option of taking these materials home and creating there, or paying a small hourly fee to work in an area called the Tinkerspace.
The Tinkerspace is equipped with materials, books, sewing machines, and drills. “One of the reasons we wanted to make this space was for a generation of kids that didn’t have dad’s workshop,” said Darcy.
Tinkertopia is backed by Spaceworks Tacoma. “[They] matched our endeavor with a vacant spot in the city and for 6 months we get to have this space rent-free,” said Darcy. Beyond providing a space for businesses, Spaceworks also provides resources such as accounting, marketing and personal business advising.
Though Tinkertopia is a business, the spirit of D.I.Y and crafting is certainly not lost. Darcy said that the best craft she’d made in the last month was “[the] big fluffy squid that is hanging in the window” (photo featured above).
Besides books and websites, Darcy explains Pintrest is quickly becoming one of her favorite places for upcycle crafting ideas.
The vision behind Tinkertopia is promoting creativity through reuse, which can be a challenge when crafters have a certain idea in mind of what they want to create.
To make crafting more environmentally conscious, Darcy suggests looking to see what you and other people have at your disposal before going out and buying newly manufactured products.
While D.I.Y projects can help make the most out of used materials, it also can be a great stress reliever: something all college students need every once in a while. Making a little hedgehog out of old cans can bring a smile to your face and help you refocus your study efforts when you need a break.
Tinkertopia is open from 10am- pm Wednesday-Sunday. The Tinkerspace is crowded on the weekend so it is usually best to call ahead and reserve a spot for free creation. More information on the Tinkertopia can be found at www.tinkertopia.com.