Blacksmithing does the Perot- Postmortem


#1

Last night, the blacksmithing committee took an anvil, a forge, and a bunch of hammers to the Perot museum and demonstrated various small smithing projects during the museums “Social Science: Maker” event. The event was a night time, adults only, chance for people to check out the museum, with drinks. The “Maker” aspect of the event was several demonstrations on laser cutting, amateur robotics, and (you guessed it) blacksmithing, among others.

I didn’t make it inside the building, but maybe some of those who did can chime in about how the event was inside. I will say that the laser-cut paper headbands they were letting people make seemed very popular and might be an idea we could borrow for future open houses, ect.

We set up outside and banged on hot steel from 7-11 pretty much straight. I’m gonna breakdown my thoughts on how it went for future reference and to document whatever learnings we can get from it- feel free to add whatever you saw or other thoughts.

The Good:

  1. The Event/Venue- it was well run, the staff was friendly and helpful, the attendees were generally well engaged and the turnout seemed good despite the shitty weather (I’m sure there would have been more folks if it were nicer, but regardless, it was a good crowd). Many of those in attendance were definitely our kind of nerds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few of them again.

    They had us set up right outside the building, just past the front gate. If you entered the event, you walked right by us. The area was covered by a concrete and steel awning and kept the rain off nicely (also had a pretty great view of the Dallas skyline)- A+

  2. The Mobile Equipment- @EthanWestern and I prettied up one of the anvils, put wheels on it, and designed a modular handle so the whole thing works like a heavy-ass dolly now. (the handle is removed while the anvil is in use) It looks like this:

This worked better than I thought it would. We moved the thing (all 150-ish) pounds of it, about 300 feet, up and down an incline, with just one person pushing it, and didn’t manage to get a single hernia. Pretty great. Paired with Lil’ Smoky (the Gas-Forge-That-Could), and the post vise on a dolly, and the entire setup didn’t take 15 minutes to build/tear down. I would like to design a better way for the copper strapping material to quickly disconnect from the anvil stand, the screws in there now work fine, but something like a toolbox clasp would make taking the anvil off the stand a little quicker.

  1. The Demos: It felt like we have a good handle on a fairly decent selection of small projects suitable for demonstration. People were interested and seemed entertained. Maybe we should try some simple forge welding next time if it’s dark, because the more sparks there were, the more folks seemed to enjoy it,

What Could have been Improved:

  1. Hydration- We should have remembered to bring our own water. It’s thirsty work and the staff seemed to have a hard time rounding up agua. (They eventually did, but we shouldn’t count on that.)

  2. PR information- We handed out a bunch of business cards, and a big thanks to @Kriskat30 for making us a banner last minute and bringing us some stickers to hand out. That said, it might be a good idea to have a couple of “Dallas Makerspace” vinyl banners stashed in the PR closet along with some general information sheets to hand out. I think that would have paid off.

  3. Buy Propane Ahead of Time- Turns out finding a BBQ bottle of propane (or getting one filled) on Friday afternoon, in Dallas, in the rain, is harder that you’d think.

  4. Larger display pieces- I think it’d be cool to have some larger example pieces to have on the table. Maybe some large candle holders, coat racks, etc. Some things that are a bit more complicated than we would make on site.Seems like people would be interested in that. And before anyone says it- edged weapons get awwwwwfully tricky at crowded public events these days.

All in all I think it went very well and I’m looking forward to doing more events like this.

Oh, and huge thanks to Nick for coming out and helping. Really helped a lot, much appreciated, I don’t know which Nick you are on Talk or I’d tag you. Remember that woman who had us wish her husband Happy Birthday? That was awesome.


#2

Suggestion: Put those things on a table / stand / whatever so that folks can grab one without you having to stop what you are doing. Having worked … well … let’s just call it “more than one trade show” … I know, when you are engaged, there are a non-zero number of people who will get inpatient then leave before getting a business card / information sheet. In other words, do not put hurdles between the audience and the information.


#3

For sure. We did that with the cards. Flyers would have been cool too.


#4

We did have a huge vinyl dms banner a few years ago. I’ll look around for it.
@talkers possibly it would be a thought to create a “go bag” for events with water, cards, stickers, stashes of money, fake passports, mustaches and other things related to pr needs in the closet for people to grab for events. Just a cheap backpack stuffed with giveaways.


#5

I like this idea: instead of a SHTF bag, we could have a HTSO bag (Hand This Stuff Out).


#6

The Uhaul on Northwest Highway at Harry Hines will fill or swap propane bottles. They have good hours too.


#7

Not in the rain, FYI. We tried.


#8

I wonder if that was the banner that was stored, and got tossed because some people (who shall not be named) thought it was “torn”.


#9

Before investing in a bunch of vinyl banners, is there always gonna be a way to display one or more? Would a stash of corroplast signs be helpful? Of course, with those, you need dirt soft enough to stick those weeny wire stands into…

FWIW/FYI
The Garland ISD Printing Services Dept. Has some badass large format printers, and they are permitted to take work from outside the district. I’ve found pricing to be good. They regularly print on vinyl, various weights/finishes of paper, foam core, corroplast the stuff those portable roll up banners (like an upside down window shade) are printed on etc. The newest one can literally print on a door.


#10

@EthanWestern and @brsims I’m curious as to how you guys found this opportunity. Did they approach you or did you approach them?

Ps I think it’s awesome and I wish I could have joined you but I had the little.


#11

@uglyknees, very likely this thread, and specifically this comment from @Captchemo:

We are very interested in having the DMS come out “officially” and showcase projects or demo something. We can provide tables, and power if needed. It would be great opportunity to advertise the space. A decision would need to be made by 9/24 or so to make sure a space is reserved and you get in the program. There will be a broad range of “maker” projects and exhibitors that evening to showcase the full spectrum of making. We would love for the DMS to be part of this event. Feel free to contact me if you need more information. Social Science is a great event. It’s adult only (no kids!!!) with about 1200-1500 guests.

Looking forward to having DMS represented!
Patrick Carroll
Resident Maker - Perot Museum


#12

This. We chatted after that, did some paperwork, and it was good to go. The people who work for the Perot were really nice and easy to work with.


#13

I want to thank the blacksmith group for coming out to Social Science this weekend at the Perot. I know it was crappy weather, and we really appreciate all the effort you guys put out to be a part of the event. I, unfortunately did not get to go outside but I spoke with many people (guests inside…) that loved what you guys did. I did a talk on the Maker Movement and gave a shout out to the DMS as a great place to get involved and learn more. Also talked up the Thursday open houses. Many seemed very interested in what the space is doing.

As a member of DMS for many years and the Resident Maker at the Perot I’ve tried several times to connect the two and do more collaborative work together. We have several events throughout the year that would be great opportunities to showcase what DMS does and provide great content for the museum. I know I speak for the museum to say that we would love to develop a better relationship with DMS. Myself, Patrick Carroll [email protected] or the family events manager Laurel Benson [email protected] are both good contacts for you guys to have if you want to get involved or work together more in the future.

As a bit of constructive criticism, we tried to organize an inside display for other groups from the makerspace to use this weekend for a display of projects and it never materialized on your end. As a member and as a representative from the Perot, it was very disappointing that didn’t get organized. There are some incredible things being done at the space that would have awesome to show at a Maker oriented event. From experience I know it’s been hard to organize the different members and groups from the space. It would be great if that could happen somehow so when opportunities like Social Science come up, the space could take better advantage.

Again, I really appreciate all the blacksmith group did. It was a great event and I hope all of you who came felt welcome and had a good time.

Patrick Carroll


#14

@jrkriehn - I am certain that Blacksmithing can work up something more substantial than the “weeny wire stands” ?


#15

For future reference, I am that Nick.


#16

gotcha

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#17

I should have come to this, I could have ridden by bike down. :frowning:


#18

More the merrier, always!