We met Steve Sherwin at the Guild of Makers event in March, where he was showing off his wares and found him a man after our own heart. The incredible precision of the steel and brass rods and gears working in concert captivated us, so here they are presented for your enjoyment.
When we caught up with Steve for a phone call to find out about his processes and inspiration, he was on top of a roof, working under a blue sky in the sunshine. We were in an office next to a dual carriageway…
“I’m totally self-taught in everything that I do now. I’ve always messed about with things, all my life. I’ve always had motorbikes, taken them to bits, and put them back together. I made things out of wood when I was younger; I’ve made cabinets, wardrobes, bookshelves… I used to make those little fighting robots, a bit of everything.
“And then, about four years ago, I got a brazing kit and started getting into metalwork. I’d never been into metalwork, but I started to learn to braze things together.
“I’d just come up with this idea to make a beer bottle opener, because I like a bottle of beer. I made it with my brazing torch and a cheap pillar drill from Wickes. That’s where it all started.
“You get inspiration from all over the place. In Stratford upon Avon, there’s a museum called the MAD Museum (Mechanical Art and Design – hsmag.cc/gnOJXU). I visited there, and was inspired. I made this mechanical set of wings, showed them a video, took it there, and they wanted it, and it’s on display there now.
“As I progressed, I ended up buying myself a lathe. I’d never been on one in my life. I plugged myself into YouTube, and taught myself how to use it. I was finding that I didn’t have the equipment to do the things I wanted to do, so I bought myself a mill, and I’ve taught myself to use that as well. It’s escalated from there.
“I make all sorts of things, whatever comes into my head. The other day, I made a big metal shelving unit for the kitchen, and then I made bespoke metal legs for a kitchen island, then I’ll make a clock, then I’ll make a robot, if there’s some stuff hanging around the workshop. I’ll mess about with anything, to be honest.
“I’m a bricklayer by trade… I build and develop houses for a living. I’ve worked for myself for 30 years. It’s all I’ve ever done. But sometimes I think to myself: ‘I don’t want to go to work, I want to go in my workshop’. When you go in that garage, I can go in there at 7pm and, before I know it, it’s 10 o’clock. My head’s just in another world. I put Marc Riley on on 6 Music, listen to him chuntering rubbish, and that’s it. You have to be a bit odd in the head I think.
“But going to the Guild of Makers is good because it makes me feel normal. There are lots of other people like me out there.
“I’ve got to know Paul Parry, who only lives up the road from me, through the Guild. I walked in his workshop and said: ‘Thank God it’s not just me that’s an idiot.’ It is what it is though; you either get it, or you don’t. I do quite a lot of mountain biking, and if I don’t go they say ‘what you doing, messing about with your Meccano?’ They don’t get it. You either do, or you don’t.