Joe Sandor, You Will Be Missed

Joe Sandor, You Will Be Missed

joe sandor with sculptures

This month the maker community lost a beloved maker: painter, sculptor, photographer, poet, and Chicagoan Joseph Andrew Sandor passed away at the age of 35. I met Joe in person in May of 2011, when he had made the pilgrimage from Chicago to Maker Faire Bay Area, and I was instantly struck by the passion he had for the maker community and for all things handmade.

I had been in touch with him via email before then, in 2010, when he wrote a feature piece for MAKE Volume 23 titled “Social Slag” about the art and community of the DIY iron pour. Joe later wrote a piece for Volume 31 titled “Slow Art Pottery” about Saint John’s Pottery Studio, and a piece for Volume 33 titled “Made of America” about a cast-iron skillet map of the U.S. And I had the pleasure of interviewing him about how he got involved in the iron pour community, what makes a good pour, and some interesting tales of salvage. Joe had first learned casting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In true maker fashion, he had led the charge for organizing a crew from the Chicago Crucible to demonstrate iron pouring at Maker Faire Detroit, 2010 and 2011.

joe sandor iron pour2

joe sandor iron pour maker faireThe iron pour crew at the Maker Faire Detroit (Joe is third from the right).

And here’s a video we shot featuring Joe explaining the iron pour at the Faire in 2011:

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Joe was always innovating and sharing knowledge, whether through his art or his role in the community. His wife, Joy Kubarek-Sandor, shared the following with us:

I was with Joe for 14 years and saw that creativity and passion exude through all he did. More than anything Joe was an idea man and he had the excitement and enthusiasm to put those ideas into action. I have piles upon piles of his sketchbooks, journals, and other scraps of paper with all those ideas. I hope that can be some inspiration to other makers out there. Never stop thinking of ideas.

m23_iron_jsandor1Joe’s Towers sculpture of nickel-plated cast iron, steel, wood, and brick.

His latest venture was two successfully funded Kickstarter campaigns: Captain Crepe Pan and Pirate Pancake Griddle! Skull and Crossbones Pancakes. Travis Good blogged about the latter on MAKE, and Joe hosted a demo at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 this past May. His wife Joy is working to finish the Pirate Pancake Griddle project. She writes, “The Kickstarter community has also been supportive and shared many kind words about Joe’s work. I’m hoping to keep as much of his projects alive as I can through the support of his maker friends and networks.”

joe sandor pirate

Joe had made really fun videos for both of his Kickstarter projects:

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He was also proud to have been recently featured in this Craftsman “Made to Make” video, shot at his studio in Chicago:

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joe sandor moon shotJoe at an Arrowhead Astronomical Society meeting. Photo by Bob King.

From a memorial post:

If you would like to honor Joe’s memory, you may donate to the non-euthanizing Treehouse Humane Society in Chicago where he adopted one of his dearest companions, his cat Louis XIV. Joe’s two cats brought him countless hours of laughter and comfort and he would only hope others could experience the same.

We will miss you, Joe. Thank you for the enthusiasm and passion you brought to the maker community, and for the knowledge you shared.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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