I meet my friend Drew outside Artisan’s Asylum, and I hand over an old smartphone. “The screen is cracked,” I say, “batteries are losing charge, and I think the power connection is going wonky.”
“Nothing I can’t fix,” he says, “and besides that it’s perfect.”
Drew tells me about his ideas for a project. He has a used ambulance and he’s planning on turning the inside into a mobile art house, with the phones intended to display visuals.
As he talks, he walks into the Asylum, a former warehouse that’s now been taken over by a collective of engineers, metalworkers and craftspeople, and he shows me around.
“You know SCUL, of course.” He waves at a den of hand-welded bikes that belong to a gang that friends of mine have ridden with. They’re a menagerie of tall bikes and choppers, less bikes than human propelled metal sculpture.
“Over here is wood shop. Machine shop next over. That’s our new plasma cutter.” He points at a squat, metal apparatus that uses electrical arcs to superheat gas for precision slicing of metal. Basically? A lightning knife.
There’s more, of course – welding stations, paint shops, 3D printers, jeweler cubbies. Artisan’s is a makerspace, a communal workshop for dreamers, artists and inventors, a place where wild ideas become reality. They teach classes, and they’re open for tours for the curious, the inventive, and the creative.
“You mind if I write about you guys?” I ask.
“Not at all,” he says, “the more, the madder.”