This 21 year old launched a new shared metalworking studio in Fishtown - Philly

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This 21 year old launched a new shared metalworking studio in Fishtown

Like its neighbors The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym and 3rd Ward, The Carbon Collective is a membership-based studio for makers of all levels. The space, which feels grittier than 3rd Ward, is equipped with welders, power hammers, plasma cutters and a forging station.

A vehicle Dave Wade Brann's friends made for the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.

Photos by Aidan Un

When his mentor, metal sculptor Bob Phillips, passed away last year, Dave Wade Brann couldn’t stand the idea of Phillips’ Fishtown studio getting into the wrong hands.

“I didn’t want to let it become a condo or get gutted,” Brann said. “I wanted it to continue to be an art space.”

So he worked with Phillips’ widow, Cheryl Levin, to turn the 3,000 square foot space into a shared metalworking and educational space. Brann, 21, who studied under Phillips in his studio from the ages of 13 to 15, is calling it The Carbon Collective at Phillips Metal, paying homage to the prominent local artist whose metal work can still be seen along Girard Avenue, near Fairmount Park and inside the Rittenhouse Hotel.

Visit The Carbon Collective on Facebook here.

The entrance to The Carbon Collective at Phillips Metal is on the 2100 block of E. Arizona Street in Fishtown.

The Carbon Collective, a membership-based studio for makers of all levels, is another iteration of the collaborative “makerspaces” that are cropping up in the riverwards, like The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym and 3rd Ward.


The space, which is grittier than the polished urban chic of 3rd Ward, is equipped with welders, power hammers, plasma cutters and a forging station, as well as a sound system that filled the walls with electronic music when Technically Philly visited recently.

Since its launch in July, hobbyists, professionals and amateurs have all approached Brann about using the space. There was the guy who wanted to build motorcycles in the studio, one who wanted to make chef’s knives and another who created lamps with found objects.

There were also the two separate people who wanted to learn how to make engagement rings out of meteorites. So Brann found someone to teach a workshop on it.

Carbon Collective’s forging station.

For Brann, The Carbon Collective is about democratizing the workshop landscape.

“Not everybody has the option to have a workshop,” he said. “And they should.”

The Audobon, N.J. native used to work as an electrician and now does custom metal work, from high-end light fixtures to intricate wrought-iron gates to large scale art installations at festivals.

He hopes The Carbon Collective can become a place that artists come to do big metal sculptures and a place to be inspired, much like he was when he first stepped foot in the space at 13.

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Dave Wade Brann, founder of the Carbon Collective, cuts a piece of metal with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Dave Wade Brann, 21, has been metalworking since he was 13.

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Dave Wade Brann used to work out of Frank’s Kitchens, a private collaborative art space in Kensington.

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