Texan making a sound at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJuly 13, 2013 

— One vendor seemed to be getting all the attention Friday at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Christopher Locke’s tent on Fairmount Avenue was lined with dozens of guests who left his booth amazed when they saw he created an acoustic stereo out of horns.

When Locke of Austin, Texas, realized he wanted more sound coming from his iPhone, but didn’t want to purchase speakers, he put his creativity to work and built what he calls an analog tele-phonographer about three years ago.

His contraption is made from refurbished brass instruments made out of recycled and salvaged goods that use the shape of the horn to amplify the sound. With a custom-made dock that fits iPad and iPod sizes, it allows the device to rest, as its speaker is lined up through space in the horn.

Bigger horns give a deeper sound, Locke said, while a small horn gives a higher sound. But both give at least triple the sound, he said.

Locke creates the devices as a part-time business when he’s not teaching art at Pflugerville Middle School in Texas. He comes to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts each year promoting his product.

Last year, Locke said he made about $14,000 in sales.

“When school is done for the year is when I get in my full production mode,” Locke said.

And he was a big hit at the fest this year.

“Honey, come here and listen to this!” yelled Marsha Broome, of Tyrone, to her husband. “You’re never going to believe what this guy makes.”

Broome said she owns an iPhone, and when she’s outside doing gardening, it doesn’t resonate enough sound for music.

“This is wild. I’ve never seen such a thing,” she said. “It’s just the kind of thing we need that give us more sound and is fashionable for our home.”

Starting at $400, some folks said they could not afford the device, but they left with a business card to tell others.

“It’s not really in my budget now, but it one of those things that is nice to ask for Christmas or a birthday that the household can use,” said another onlooker, Mark Gruber.

Locke said he expected to give away about 2,500 business cards throughout the course of the festival, where he will see additional sales afterward.

With a fine arts degree from George Washington University, Locke said being creative is in his heart.

“I have a real passion for it and testing things out and trying what others might not think of,” he said. “It’s a nice way to think out of the box and to get others thinking creatively as well.”

He calls his business Heartless Machine as a reference to the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown State College.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.

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