Tiny Rain Bows brings big love to niche Tampa Bay art communities

The next Tiny Rain Bows workshop is happening Saturday at Black Crow Coffee Co. Grand Central.

click to enlarge Jackon Cardarelli (L) and Mia Hollenback talk all things art, community and growth with CL. - BELLA POZO
Jackon Cardarelli (L) and Mia Hollenback talk all things art, community and growth with CL.

If you’ve frequented local coffee shops around the Tampa Bay area over the last few months, chances are that you’ve seen or heard something about said shop hosting a workshop put together by Tiny Rain Bows. Founded by Mia Hollenback and Jackson Cardarelli, Tiny Rain Bows facilitates artmaking through crafts and community-building by hosting workshops that pop up at places like Black Crow Coffee in St. Petersburg and Temple Terrace’s Felicitous Coffee and Tea House. These workshops enable connection through shared experience, like picking up needle and thread for the first time, or making a banner with a motivational mantra on it. Ahead of their upcoming book-binding workshop, Hollenback and Cardarelli spoke to Creative Loafing about their practice and the importance of DIY accessibility in our regional art world.

Editor's note (12/17/21) Mia Hollenback has since rebranded to "Mia Makes It."

Tiny Rain Bows Workshop

Bookbinding, make your own sketchbook or journal.

Sat. Feb. 15, 12 p.m.-3 p.m. Suggested donation is $5.

Black Crow Coffee Co. Grand Central, 2157 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

How did Tiny Rain Bows manifest? Tell me about the origin of the name and what you’re all about.

Hollenback: The name Tiny Rain Bows came about when we were in our kitchen: our countertops have these tiny mirrors that refract light and create tiny rainbows. There were some shining on Jackson’s face and I said the words “tiny rainbows,” and it just stuck. Tiny rainbows bring joy and it’s a lovely thing to witness. We’re saying it’s the little things that matter and bring happiness and that’s what we want to hone when we cultivate these small communities in our workshops and events.

Cardarelli: Tiny Rain Bows represents the power of people organizing together. By welcoming all folx to the table, learning from each other and making things, we all reconnect with our passions. We want to nix formalities and focus on extending warmth and courtesy to all who want to get involved with our vision of inclusiveness. There is magical power in numbers, so we want to use our platform and events for the collective good through workshops, parties, pop-ups, and more.

What does DIY mean to Tiny Rain Bows?

Cardarelli: Resources that are free, inexpensive or available at libraries can be turned into tiny production studios for new artists. For instance, using cheap printers to mass-produce a hundred pages of neat art can turn into canvassing or networking opportunities in the community. This approach to art around town—in addition to new workshop ideas and free-for-all art opportunities—paves a grassroots growth for Tiny Rain Bows. It is rewarding to keep our events on a free or sliding donation basis, as money usually limits how people experience art in classes or museum spaces.

Hollenback: I’ve always had a hard time feeling that I fit into the “fine” art community, and gallery receptions rarely made me feel included on a couple of levels: it’s awkward to go to an opening where everyone is already in their circles with a drink in hand. Secondly, I feel like the kind of art I make isn’t shown in the gallery spaces I’ve seen in the Tampa Bay area. I’m more integrated in the DIY art community, where folx make things happen by themselves. We also host our workshops on a donation basis, so all the money we make goes into materials for future workshops. We want artmaking to be accessible—even if you can’t make the suggested donation, we will never turn you away.

What are your goals with the workshops and how do you form a community in them?

Hollenback: We want to create a safe space where people can meet one another and find common ground in working towards a similar goal or project. For example, embroidery is a great way to bring new people together as it doesn’t require a lot of eye contact because everyone is focusing on their hoops, so people feel more comfortable to talk outloud to the room or the person next to them. By slowing down and creating something together, we can ease the tension of everyday life and offer a new way of looking at things through a lens of communal living. We want to teach people of all ages and backgrounds a new skill that they can continue to build on after the workshop, or even teach someone they love. We had a group of high schoolers attend one of our embroidery workshops and they started talking about hosting embroidery parties in the future and how proud their grandmas would be. It was really sweet and inspiring! 

Cardarelli: You don’t need the skills that are at the center of our workshops; all you have to do is show up! We hope that our events will make you happy and connected to something larger. Walking away with new connections, new skills, and new ideas is the most powerful arsenal for changing the world for the better, one mini-revolutionary moment at a time.

What does the future hold for Tiny Rain Bows?

Cardarelli: In the next few months, Tiny Rain Bows will begin collaborations with artists on new work that is multi-faceted or more complex. We have already been able to connect musicians with visual artists, designers with writers, and more. We hope that these initial connections will bloom into gorgeous, voluptuous artwork to be enjoyed by all.

Hollenback: Our next goal is to make some public art installations, try performance art, and paint some murals. We were invited by our apartment building to paint some of their walls, so that’s the imminent project on the horizon. We also want to host another art sale with local vendors we support.

How can people connect with you to learn more and get involved?

Cardarelli: You can reach out and introduce yourself to us on social media (@tinyrainbows.png) or email [email protected]. Are you a Tampa business or homeowner looking to add art onto your walls or property? We would love to work with you to paint murals or provide other rad local custom art for your space.

Hollenback: If you would like to follow us or support us so we can continue to host workshops on a donation basis, please go to our website at tinyrainbows.org. We have an events calendar, a web store with art for sale, and soon we will have a blog.

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