A man of many trades

The Shed - - Shed Artist -

Sean started out bend­ing steel in a fac­tory af­ter leav­ing school aged 15. “You would get a mil­lion rods and put a 90-de­gree bend in them, turn them over and put a 90-de­gree bend in the other side. I did that for a while, then I did plas­tic in­jec­tion mold­ing. Then I did weld­ing, and then I was an oys­ter farmer.”

Born in Eng­land, he came to New Zealand as a baby, but has moved back­wards and for­wards be­tween the hemi­spheres, along the way work­ing as se­cu­rity for the Chelsea Foot­ball Club, and as a take­away cook. “I never knew where I fit­ted so I just kind of did a bit of ev­ery­thing.”

Sean had a light­bulb mo­ment when some­one ex­plained to him how an en­gine worked. “I re­ally took it on board and went back to school and got my me­chanic’s ap­pren­tice­ship.”

He went on to sell cars, clean cars, work as a ser­vice ad­vi­sor, and man­age a work­shop be­fore join­ing the po­lice force. He spent 10 years in the force, in­clud­ing five years as a con­sta­ble in Alexan­dra, fol­lowed by a stint as a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer, which re­in­forced his be­lief that a cre­ative out­let is es­sen­tial for every­one and can steer peo­ple away from of­fend­ing.

“I can’t draw to save my­self so never thought I was artis­tic or cre­ative,” says Sean. Then one day in 2012, the self-con­fessed hoarder was fid­dling in his shed and came out with a ray gun made from an oil lamp, old elec­tric drill, drawer han­dle, and corkscrew. Im­pressed with his hand­i­work, he put it up for auc­tion on Trade Me. “It had over 10,000 views and sold for $300, and busi­ness sky­rock­eted from there.” Sean, who has lived in Clyde for the past 10 years where he shares the care of his 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daugh­ter, took a break from sci­ence fic­tion a few years ago to work on a more prac­ti­cal in­ven­tion — a high-tech, car­bon-fi­bre snow sled that he saw as an al­ter­na­tive to snow­board­ing and ski­ing.

His Snolo Sleds busi­ness won third prize in the ANZ Fly­ing Start com­pe­ti­tion and looked set to take off in­ter­na­tion­ally “but didn’t fly in the end,” as other grown-ups were slow to catch on. Sean is now pretty much a full-time junk artist with a bit of win­dow-clean­ing thrown in “to get me out and talk­ing to peo­ple”.

Do­ing some weld­ing work on his Rocket Bike

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