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Stephen Hynes didn’t realise he was about to find a new passion in life when he was sitting around a poker table in his friends house six years ago.
The table, he says, was falling apart, and rather than buy a new one, he and his friends decided to build one from scratch.
Since then Hynes has built a workshop in his back garden, where he mostly salvages old materials and then gives them a new purpose. His shed is filled with DIY projects ranging from hand-crafted lamps to restoration projects to a dog house.
Although not originally trained as a craftsperson, Hynes’ experience welding at a past job meant that he was a natural when it came to repurposing old metal pipes.
Now Hynes is turning to social media to try and inspire other people to find solace in working with their hands like he and his past generations have.
Going Back Generations
Hynes is from five generations of Glasnevin tradesmen.
Works from his great-great-grandfather, Peter Hynes can still be found around the corner in Glasnevin cemetery.
“I’m trained as a plumber, my dad is a fitter turner and his dad was trained as a HGV [heavy goods vehicle] mechanic,” says Hynes.
His great-great-grandfather Peter, though, was a renowned master sculptor, who went by the nickname Batty, he says.
Hynes says that his great-great-grandfather started with Farrell & Son, a well-known headstone and memorial company in the 1880s, which is still making headstones for the cemetery today.
Peter Hynes would have made intricate carvings on rough granite Celtic crosses, which can still be viewed in the cemetery today, he says.
Anything Is Possible
In Hynes’ workshop there sits a one-foot tall man, made from pipes. Where a head should be, Hynes has fastened a light bulb.
The man is in mid-kick of a football that rests beneath him. The ball is also made out of a lightbulb. His limbs are shaped from metal pipes, nuts and joints. These are materials salvaged from Hynes’ current job as service engineer at a multinational company based in Dublin.
His welding skills come from his time working as a plumber for Cadbury’s.
“I loved working with metal work and with plumbing you’re predominantly working with metal pipes,” he says.
This allowed Hynes to learn about fabricating, pipe fitting and most importantly, welding.
In his current job, Hynes’ coworkers make sure to save bits of tanks and pipes for him to use, by putting them in a salvage bucket, he says.
“I’ll cut the pipe the length that I need them, thread them with wire, and buff all the paint off them,” he says.
Hynes doesn’t like sticking to the same project though, his favorite part is figuring out how he is going to tackle something new, he says.
“It starts with an idea and then it becomes an infatuation,” he says.
“The crazier the thing you want him to build the more enthusiastic he gets about it,” says Daniel Lambert, a friend of Hynes.
One of Hynes’ creations can be found in Lambert’s home in Phibsboro — a cabinet, to hold a Belfast sink, which is made out of old scaffolding planks that has a decorative blowtorched effect.
“His attitude is that anything is possible,” says Lambert.
Finding A Purpose
In his current job at a multinational company Hynes works in shifts, which means that on some weeks, he could have four days off from work in a row.
He found that he had nothing to keep him occupied, as his friends were all working, and it began to impact on his mental health.
“I had so much time at my disposal. Everyone that I knew was in work. So it was a very lonely time,” he says.
He decided to build a shed, and take what was once a hobby, starting with the poker table, a little more seriously.
This was the start. Now this shed acts as the hub for Hynes’ creations.
“You just have to start somewhere. Once you start then you are flying then,” he says.
Hynes has a new project as of last week, after a friend called him about a house ten doors down from his own.
“There’s a derelict house on the road. An old lady used to live there about 10 or 15 years ago,” says Hynes.
The developer told Hynes’ friend that there is a shed out the back of the house that they are looking to get rid of.
Hynes went down to see if there was anything worthwhile salvaging in the shed.
“When I saw the Singer sewing machine there, I just thought ‘jackpot’,” he says.
Hynes plans to restore the machine back to working condition. If that’s not possible, he could see it being developed into a nice coffee table, he says.