Paul Elkins, Pacific Northwest polymath: A passion for invention.
Categories: Mobility, TinyHouse
Paul Elkins has always loved to doodle; when he turned 8 years old his mother bought him his first serious sketch pad and he has since filled 25 more books with his designs. Elkins redesigned the world around him with his drawings of mini submarines, backpack helicopters, gas vapor carburetors and turbo-powered skateboards.
Unlike the work of other dreamers, Elkins' designs didn't remain trapped on the page. Inspired by a tinkering father, and uncle, he has turned dozens of his whimsical ideas into a reality that defies description. There's his Mochet velocycle pedal car, 7-pound Coroplast foldable kayak, rapid deployment Coroplast shelter for Ice fishing or Emergencies, bicycle camper, to name just a few.
Today, the Internet has made it easier to become a maker, but whenElkins first started tinkering he had to rely on magazines like Popular Mechanics and Mother Earth News and the occasional library book to find similar concepts to build upon.
Now after decades as a self-taught inventor, Elkins has built dozens of bicycles (many inspired by the recumbent bicycle he first spotted as a ten year old at a car show), boats, micro-shelters (some hardly bigger than a person, but equipped with solar showers and running water) and those category-defying inventions like a human-powered wheel.
Elkins has never made any money from his inventions and he calls himself a "conceptual artist" instead of designer or inventor due to his lack of interest in patents or selling products. With his retirement from Boeing approaching, he is considering releasing plans for some of his designs for sale to help fund his continued design work, butElkins' primary motivation for doing what he does will never be economic.