DRIFTOPIA

Date: November 9, 2018 Author: Jeff Thorburn Categories: features
Back

Here amongst the amazing lakes and endless shorelines of the Kootenay Boundary area, we get plenty of driftwood. With a need for some furniture in his house a few years ago, Daniel “Alien” Nelson brought home a truckload of driftwood and started experimenting with what he could create. Tables, chairs, garden planters, and beds were only a few of the things he was constructing in a small makeshift lean-to shop in his rental home’s backyard—a house was once owned by the late Josh Evin.

Over time, Alien gained a reputation for his creations—despite having no training beyond grade eight woodshop. Moving multiple times over the following years, he was eventually able to support himself with his business and it acted as an avenue for his creative juices to flow. His company, Driftwood Works, was officially born.

Presently, Alien’s business is booming. Despite his time devoted to creating Driftwood Works, Alien remains a dedicated skateboarder. During the first year, Alien made a run of limited edition rings cut from skateboards, a one-off table created with old decks, and recently, he has been making what he likes to call “Riverboards.” With the help of an eco-friendly epoxy, Alien has continued to diversify and reinvent the term “functional art.”

Having recently purchased a home from Eugene Voykin’s father, Alien suddenly had the space to create his own skatepark—and that's just what he’s doing, one feature at a time. It all started with the DIY barrier-style quarterpipe in his front yard. Jamie Maley and the guys from Transition Construction were in the area, and they were more than thrilled to help make Alien’s idea materialize. Soon after, a local father-son concrete finishing team constructed a mirrored copy of the first QP to create a deadly stair-gap between the two.

The concrete pad which the QP’s were built upon has its own history. In the summer of 1999, Josh Evin, Eugene Voykin, Shane Wallace, and Mike Evans set out with the sponsorship of PM Skateboards to tour 3,000 kilometres in a van with failing brakes, towing a 5,000-pound portable skatepark behind them. Many of the ramps built for this tour were constructed by Eugene and friends on this vary slab of concrete, decades before Alien had purchased the home. At the end of the tour, in 1999, these vary ramps ended up under an abandoned Vancouver overpass which would eventually become the DIY skatepark known as Leeside.

Ultimately, Alien is set on creating a “Heart Bowl” to commemorate the life of his late friend Josh, who initially introduced Alien to the Kootenay lifestyle many years ago. 

Words and photos by Spencer Legebokoff.