What is the FrankenToyMobile?

Launched in June 2015, the FrankenToyMobile is a pedal-powered maker space that encourages imagination and curiosity by providing free, hands-on workshops where youth and adults reuse toys as raw material for original creations. By inviting youth to modify “junk” toys into objects that they feel express their identity and personality, we encourage them to experiment, challenge dominant ideas about gendered toys, and see the world as being full of possibility.

Through our workshops, the FrankenToyMobile turns public spaces into opportunities for community-based creative experiences. Our custom-designed tricycle is a traveling studio with counter-style workspace, the mobility of which enables us to go to people, lowering barriers to access for both individuals with existing interests in making and passersby whose curiosity is piqued by our presence. Participants are provided with minimal directions: grab a tray, select toy parts, and let us know what they want to make. We facilitate the making process as needed, teaching fastening skills and serving as technical assistants to help make their vision a reality. Our project is as much about bringing people together to share creative experiences and discover new talents as it is about the toys that are made.

Since June 2015, we have served over 1100 people through 16 workshops in public spaces around Chicago. 

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