a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The miniature, mechanical craft ambassador

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH – A Pennsylvania crafter is hoping people will develop a healthy addiction to cigarette machines.

Lynne Kropinak has recycled two of the vending machines with hand pulls into devices to dispense inexpensive, handmade crafts in boxes the same size as cigarette packs.

“Get a healthy habit. Support the local craft scene,” said Kropinak, of Cecil Township, Washington County.

She repainted and decorated the machines purchased on eBay and rotates them in such places as: Bocktown Beer and Grill, a hip craft beer bar in North Fayette Township; and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the city’s North Side. The illuminated, behind-glass displays that once advertised Marlboro or Pall Mall smokes have been replaced with hand-cut paper designs in the Art Deco style. The machines bear the name Craft-O-Tron.

She got the idea from Art-o-mat® inspired by Clark Whittington, who began in 1997 using recycled cigarette vending machines to dispense art and culture in Winston-Salem, N.C. The concept since has spread across the country, selling art created by nearly 400 artists from 10 countries.

“I loved the idea and thought, ‘Why not do it with crafters in Pittsburgh?’” said Kropinak, a mother of six sons, who also creates whimsical lamps from recycled items in a company she named Brought Back to Light.

“It’s sort of a miniature mechanical craft show that travels around like a craft ambassador.”

She also uses them to promote the dates and locations of craft shows, such as Handmade Arcade, where she was found Saturday among 120 local crafters selling their wares at David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Among the items sold in the Craft-O-Trons are crocheted pierogies, bracelets, earrings crafted from small plastic replicas of Heinz pickles and keychains decorated with dangling Barbie doll arms and legs. Each "pack" sells for $5. The said keychain, left, is the work of Nikki Telladictorian, who refers to herself as a "small arms dealer."

One of the machines will be relocated in May to Big Jim’s Roadhouse on Cecil-Hendersonville Road in Hendersonville.

1 comment:

go carr go said...

Thanks for the wonderful write up!

A big shout out to Lynne, all the craft o tron crafters, the customers, and the hosts for making this a huge success!