Speaking to 10 play over the phone following his elimination, Dan said his time in the barn was “unbelievable in many different ways”.
“To start with, meeting people who are just like me, that is the biggest struggle for someone in the world that we are in. The 13 of us were like peas in a pod from a different pea plant,” he said of his fellow Makers.
“It was just amazing to meet people that think and do and act the same way that I do, just in different medias… Day one was like walking into a family reunion, it was absolutely astonishing,” he added.
Explaining that he was “born into” the crafting world, Dan’s father is similarly a very talented maker who encouraged Dan at every opportunity to flourish in the world of making.
“I love fixing, making and helping people, so those three things all go together,” Dan said.
During the competition, Dan opened up to judges Benja Harney and Deborah Riley about his early onset Parkinson’s diagnosis, and how it had affected his relationship to work and his making. During the episode, Dan told the hosts and judges that thanks to medication, he can continue to make.
“The really, really unfortunate part is, I don’t know how long for,” he said at the time.
Seeing his story come to air, Dan told 10 play he was “humbled” to finally be able to share with the world his diagnosis.
“I was really, really happy to know that it had been aired, it’s not a problem for me to talk about it anymore,” he added.
“I know a lot of people around the world and… I’m blessed to have a lot of people I can call loved ones, and it was starting to get challenging to have a positive conversation with people I haven’t spoken to in a while. I’d have to broach that topic which automatically brings a downer on the conversation.
“Making It, not even on purpose, became a platform for me to alleviate some of that stress. I went there to make cool, crazy stuff and have a crazy experience and the second or thirdhand advantage ended up being I was able to broadcast to the wider audience what I’m challenged with at the moment, and help myself moving forward and the others in my loved circle to have more positive conversations,” Dan said.
“I’m actually really content with whatever happens now because I’ve been able to get my story across… I’m very thankful for that.”
During his time in the competition, one of Dan’s crowning achievements was his Heritage Shrine craft that he put together to honour his story.
Each individual piece and the specific materials used held deep symbolism to Dan, representing his family, the paths that he took which led him into his different stages of life and those that supported him, culminating in meeting the ‘light of his life’, his wife, represented by the second vine sprouting near the top of the piece.
Incorporating fresh fruit that represented parts of his life like education and his health, Dan wanted to make the piece serve a purpose, literally nourishing and feeding the soul, drawing on the lessons of the past and using them in everyday life. The lemon at the top of the piece, a nod to his Parkinson’s disease.
“That lemon is there, but I plan to make lemonade out of that.”
Watch Making It Australia on Wednesday and Thursdays at 7:30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand