My New Possibility Engine


I’ve spent most of my adult life having regular access to a workshop of some kind. My first really private workspace was in Brooklyn, N.Y. After moving from there to the mattress factory in Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, to my parent’s basement, to my own garages, closets, and cars, I’ve finally moved into my ideal man cave, as you see here.

I frequently call my shop spaces “possibility engines” (I just as frequently worry that that’s a pretentious thing to call my shop spaces), and I’ve always required a certain amount of visual cacophony in these places where I seek inspiration. I like noise (some might call it mess, but don’t believe them). I need, in some ways, to be overwhelmed by the space where I make.

By the same token, I have a deeply personal relationship with everything in that space, such that at my worst, I’m a high-functioning hoarder, and at my best, I’m the curator of the most awesome museum of my own brain.

The museum I oversee is, at its core, a simple conduit for the stories that objects tell. Sometimes fictional objects tell true stories. Eventually, every object describes a narrative in its wear and decay, and my fascination with that narrative is what has always made me a maker.

I want and need the objects around me to talk.

When I can’t find objects that talk the way I want, I’ve made them, and when I didn’t know how to make them, I’ve taught myself how. I have done this since I was 5 or 6.

Many of the most transcendent, and most frustrating, moments in my life have been while making things. I’ve left far more projects by the wayside unfinished than I’ve completed. At least 30 sit on shelves in various storage spaces, and I have eager plans for each of them, most of which will go unfulfilled. But I won’t.

With the limited time I have to devote to personal projects, and with the long experience I’ve had in making, I now do most of my tool setup, construction-problem solving, and building in my head. I spend weeks throwing out bad ideas, and honing good ones, so that when I finally do get into my shop, I’m ready, and the work goes quickly.

That’s the plan, anyway. At least half the time my fine ideas get bogged down by the reality that making things is an endless exercise in things not going as you planned. Which really is the point, isn’t it?

I don’t make things in order to have finished objects. I have finished objects as a by-product of my need to always be making.

I love these objects. I enjoy the conversation we have together. I like the problem solving, the broken blades, and the Band-Aids. They’ve made me who I am.

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