Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts: Man finds his passion giving new life to robots

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJuly 14, 2013 

— As a kid, State College resident Dan Baxter enjoyed science fiction and was fascinated by robots.

As an adult, the software salesman said he recently decided to put his imagination to work and create robots himself made from vintage recycled material.

“I went to the arts fest last year and there was so much creativity going on that I knew I needed to get out of my own head and be creative with something I enjoyed,” Baxter said. “My goal was to get creative and see where it went from there.”

This is Baxter’s first year setting up a tent on South Allen Street near Fairmount Avenue and showcasing his part-time business and full time hobby, BaxterBots, at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

Baxter estimated about 1,000 people visited his tent while he made numerous sales of the vintage robot pieces that range in price from about $180 to $550.

“I guess the biggest response from people are how fascinated they are by it,” Baxter said about his work.

Some handcrafted robots are made with old flashlights as legs, light bulbs for eyes and several gadgets for other body parts including old cameras dating back to the 1940s. And with each robot comes a specific name that goes with the history of the “bot.”

Baxter said he finds and purchases old material from junkyards, flea markets, online or anywhere he can find vintage material that is the right fit for his craft.

And how much time he takes to make the robot depends on his idea.

“Sometime the idea takes 10 minutes then I’ll be out there tinkering with it,” he said.

But for Baxter, he said it’s all about being creative.

“It’s just something I like and keep my mind going in a different direction than the everyday grunt of things,” he said.

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

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