Artist Draws All 100,000 Objects in Grandpa’s Shed

Craft & Design Workshop
Artist Draws All 100,000 Objects in Grandpa’s Shed
Photo by Lee John Phillips.
Photos by Lee John Phillips.

As we all know, a well-stocked workshop is a beautiful thing. It’s the place that keeps and collects all the tools and hardware you may someday need to fix something you love or make something new.

When Lee John Phillips’ grandfather passed away, he left behind a tool shed packed with a lifetime of old tools, hardware, and odds and ends. As an artist by training, Lee took inspiration from the dense, seemingly limitless stash of unique artifacts and began organizing and drawing collections of them in his sketchbook.

An arrangement of old tools

What started on a whim has turned into a 5-year journey to catalog every item in his grandfather’s tool shed. So far, Lee is around 20 months in and has covered approximately 4,000 items from the collection. Lee says on his Instagram account “I still can’t really estimate [the 4,000 items] as a percentage of the total. However, I feel I’m nowhere near 10% complete.” Lee’s best guess is that there are over 100,000 individual items in the shed.

Whether or not he can fully document the contents of the shed in the 5-year span, Lee’s work so far is already a beautiful tribute to both his grandfather and to the artifacts of Makers.

Another aspect of Lee’s work that I enjoy is his attention to organizing the shed artifacts into visually pleasing groups, similar to the photography work of Emily Blincoe. I’m hardly a neat freak, but something about applying order to the chaos feels nice. For his work, Lee’s tools of choice seem to be a Staedtler Mars Matic series pen and a combination of Moleskine Sketchbooks and blank Field Notes note pads. I can also see from the photos he’s posted that some of his drawings have been laser engraved into wood, which appropriately enough, would probably look great decorating a tool shed.


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I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Fan of donuts, Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, and blinking lights.

View more articles by Donald Bell