Meet the Maker: Tim Sway

Meet Tim Sway, an upcyclist who makes nice things out of items that would otherwise be thrown away!

GHMF:  Tell me about your exhibit and what activities will be available.

Sway:  My exhibit is a little area I built for myself to hang out in – and for you to visit. My “set” fits into the table base which doubles as a cart to carry it away. It is made entirely from reclaimed materials. I’ll have photos of my work and an ipad with additional photos, as well as videos of me making things. I will also have a couple of guitars I made from reclaimed materials and a chess set made from airplane engine parts. I’m just going to hang out with whomever wants to and answer questions anyone may ask. Maybe I’ll bring something small to work on. bike parts and tree branch console

GHMF:  You consider yourself to be an “upcyclist.” Can you explain what an upcyclist does and what inspired you to become one?

Sway:  Honestly, most of my work is making things out of reclaimed materials… wood and other things that were salvaged from deconstructed buildings. There is value in reclaimed building materials. But what I REALLY like to do is upcycle, which is when I take something that has been discarded and deemed “trash” or valueless and give it a value and purpose again.

I am an artist leaning towards activist. I don’t consider myself to be ‘saving the world’ by making a coffee table out of pallets, rather, I make artistic statements and try to inspire others to think about what they use – and discard.

GHMF:  Your tag line is “making worthless things priceless.” Can you describe a project you worked on that encapsulates this idea?

Sway:  All my work plays on the concept of value in some way or another. Obviously just about everything I make will eventually have a price tag on it (unless I give it away). But we all have special possessions that are “priceless” to us. I aim to make things that the owner will cherish… family heirlooms, out of Marching Drum Tablewhat others considered “worthless.”  Most of my work encapsulates this idea. One that comes to mind is a coffee table I made out of a broken drum and used drum sticks. The drum belonged to a music major. Her mom had me turn the now useless instrument into a functioning artistic table that the young musician will have forever – and not just something collecting dust!

GHMF:  What do you think is the biggest misconception about makers or the maker movement?

Sway:  I don’t know what people’s conception of “the maker movement” is, never mind any misconceptions. I do know there are some people that are quick to dismiss, degrade and denounce just about anything and everything outside of their knowledge or comfort zone. To each their own. It doesn’t really affect me, my work or my customers in any way.

GHMF:  Anything else you would like to share about your exhibit or other projects you’re working on?

Sway:  It is very easy for me to get free things and upcycle them. But it gets more difficult finding customers for the pieces. Most people still shop at the import, throw-away product stores. This gives me more things to upcycle, but still not enough people to buy. So a million upcyclists making awesome stuff won’t make much of a difference in our disposable society unless consumers change. This society needs to dramatically change how it views and uses everything.

I should also mention that I made a pilot television series called “trashformers” that appears on fyi network. It premiered in July of this year. In three episodes, I and three other designers were tasked with making useable things from a discarded ferris wheel, a school bus and a plane. I do not know if more episodes of this show will be made. pinball desk

GHMF:  What is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Sway:  The best way to reach me is by email: You can call me, too. I probably won’t answer (I can never hear my phone! lol) but I’ll call you back: 203.512.7936

Check out these videos of projects that Tim will be bringing to our Maker Faire:

Chess pieces built using aircraft engine parts:

Chess board made out of reclaimed mahogany and aluminum:

Give Tim a follow and find him on other networks:

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