Make your own at DIY Cyclops Fest

By Tim Walker



DIY. If you’re reading this story, you may already know that DIY stands for Do It Yourself, but you may be unaware that it applies to a lot more than just home renovation.

Do It Yourself has grown into a subculture all its own—the primary idea is making your own arts and crafts, often from raw or refurbished materials, and then selling your work to people directly, with the artist intimately involved in nearly every facet of the operation, putting their heart and soul into the process. This is exactly the philosophy that DJ Galvin and her husband Justin believe in, have lived their lives by, and which in turn led them—along with Justin’s mother, Connie Galvin—to start the Cyclops Fest, an “epic festival of handmade goods, music, culture, and DIY wonderfulness,” as they so aptly describe it. The festival is now in its sixth year, and growing larger with every passing year.

The Sixth Annual Cyclops Fest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, on the lawn at the Mills Lawn Elementary School at 200 South Walnut Street in Yellow Springs. The event will run from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and will feature a craft beer garden with all beer provided by Yellow Springs Brewery, live DJs and music, a food truck court, and lots of kids activities—among them, Decoy Art Studio will be providing a pottery wheel hands-on demonstration for children, as well as a Cyclops Monster takeaway project. But the real draw, of course, will be the 80-plus vendors and their booths filled with wonderful and unique handmade apparel, jewelry, paper goods, and art objects.

DJ and Justin Galvin are a remarkably creative and energetic couple, and along with Connie Galvin, they have also owned and operated the Urban Handmade shop in the village of Yellow Springs since 2009. They seem to embody the DIY philosophy in everything they do—Urban Handmade, which relocated in June to 113 Corry St., is a boutique filled with gorgeous handmade items, some manufactured by the Galvins, others produced by local craftsmen and sold on consignment. The variety and beauty of the items for sale needs to be seen to be appreciated; everything is available, from artfully silk-screened clothing and home decorations to unique candles, jewelry, colorful wall hangings, and intriguing tchotchkes of all shapes and sizes. The couple does all of their own screen printing at the store, where they sell apparel as well as art, accessories, candles, and bath and body products—everything made by hand, with nothing mass-produced.

“It really came naturally,” says DJ Galvin when she spoke to the Dayton City Paper about the couple’s inspiration behind Cyclops Fest. “After Justin and I started the business, we saw that there was a need to showcase handmade art and home-grown entrepreneurs. And we knew our best chance at that was in Yellow Springs.”

“Cyclops Fest is the result of a partnership with the village of Yellow Springs, where Justin is from,” Galvin continues. “We’ll have about 80 handmade artists at the 2016 Fest, most of whom return every year. They sell a wide variety of handmade products—this is really a celebration of the entire DIY culture, and lots of entrepreneurs will be present. We’ll have a lot of the vendors set up on the lawn of the Mills Lawn Elementary school itself, and then from Short Street to Limestone, that whole section of Walnut Street, will be closed down by the village for the festival to use, as well. It’s kind of nice—this is our first year at this particular location, and it will be like a block party festival for us. You’ll still have that place near the school for the kids to play. It’s really exciting for families—there will be lots of stuff for kids to do this year, and we have new and familiar vendors, coming from all over—we have people coming in from Cleveland, Columbus, Kentucky, Indiana, as well as local artists.”

One question, however, is foremost in everyone’s mind, and one that visitors and vendors alike have asked the Galvins: What does a one-eyed creature from Greek mythology have to do with DIY culture?

“Everyone asks us that,” Galvin laughs. “Honestly, it’s something Justin came up with. When we were first formulating the idea, we decided we wanted something that was short, just one word that kind of stuck out. We started looking around at music festivals, like for instance Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Then, the creature that was designed for us, a one-eyed Cyclops, just seemed to fit—we just thought it would be really fun to have a one-eyed monster representing our festival.”

Visitors to the Cyclops Fest will certainly be impressed by the wide variety of handmade goods on hand, many of which are produced by local talent. Tara Anderson from Wilberforce will be bringing her Odd Pottery to the festival for the first time this year, and her ceramic art, wall hangings, and aromatherapy jewelry promise to attract curious people to her booth. Krissie Mastin, whose business is based on a farm she calls home in rural Clark County, will be at the festival again showcasing her handmade jewelry and accessories created from vintage items and repurposed metals. And another local vendor, a native of Enon, Ohio, and 1992 Greenon graduate, who is returning for her second year to the festival, is Emily Rigsbee, the owner and creative mind behind BeeTree EcoArt.

“My art is inspired by nature, with nature in mind,” Rigsbee says. “So, all of my art is nature-themed. I draw my inspiration from the natural world, and all of my art reflects the fascination I have with trees, the earth, and its creatures. And then it’s made the most eco-friendly way that I can make it. So, all the wood that we use is repurposed, or reclaimed, wood. The inks that we print with are water-based, non-toxic inks, the fabrics I use I try to source them from thrift stores, garage sales… I just try to buy as little ‘new’ materials as I possibly can.”

In describing her past experience with the festival, Rigsbee continues, “I was at the Cyclops Fest last year, and it’s a great show… The items you’ll find at Cyclops are all entirely handmade, and I think that just makes for a high level of quality. It’s a lot more indie-craft, the really funky and eclectic art that is really one-of-a-kind, that you just can’t get anywhere else. People love coming to this show. Honestly, this is just one of those festivals that I really look forward to doing again and again.”

“I have been trained as a traditional goldsmith,” says Matt Breunig, another Cyclops Fest veteran and a jeweler with 20 years of experience in his craft. “And I do a lot of gemstone jewelry, multiple colors, primarily, I worked more in sterling silver. But in recent years, I started doing work in the steampunk genre, that style of jewelry. So that is basically like upcycling, incorporating various pieces and making them into an artistic piece. Basically, using old parts, not for their originally intended purposes. I didn’t really know anything about steampunk until a few years ago—it’s been around for a while, and it started out as a literary movement. A few years ago, a friend of mine mentioned to me that I should do steampunk jewelry, and I didn’t even know what he was talking about.”

“My wife and I have been doing art shows in the region since 2012,” Breunig continues. “We moved from Kettering to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2013, so we’re pretty familiar with the Dayton market as far as the art shows go. The first time we did Cyclops we were still living in Ohio—we weren’t able to do it last year due to a scheduling conflict—but we’re happy to be coming back this year. We love Yellow Springs, and it’s a good excuse for us to come back to the area and visit our old friends. I definitely think that the Cyclops Fest has brought a little bit higher caliber of artist and craftsmen to the area. I’ve really enjoyed doing it the past few years, and I hope to see it continue far into the future.”

“It’s really amazing to me to see how the DIY culture has evolved,” Galvin says when asked how the festival relates to individuals, DIY creativity, and artistic expression. “I mean, we started Urban Handmade in 2009, and there really weren’t any other stores—there was one store similar to it in Columbus, I think. But then a lot of the artists, including myself and Connie, who was my business partner, we were selling online, on Etsy, and we noticed this giant surge and this need people had to find handmade items. There was a cultural shift, where it became OK, this idea that people didn’t have to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch. And, people were looking for more art, and that’s where the idea for the store came from. My husband grew up in Yellow Springs, and we just thought this would be the perfect place. And even with Cyclops and other festivals of its kind—it’s really hard to find a purely handmade festival. A lot of people, even a lot of our vendors, tell us that this is the ‘funnest’ festival they do each year.”

“We take great pride in making this event different and unique. Cyclops Fest is one of those festivals where you see a lot of the town people come. I mean, of course there are a lot of people from out of town as well, but it’s great because you can sit there and enjoy yourself, drink a beer, and the moms and dads are all shopping and they’re out with the kids, who are playing…a real community feeling. And, there’s really something there for everybody.”

Cyclops Fest 2016 will be held Saturday, Sept. 10 at Mills Lawn Elementary School, 200 S. Walnut St. in Yellow Springs. The event runs from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to all ages, and the festival will be held rain or shine. For more information, please visit


Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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