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 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+
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.
- 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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.