A Look Back: Adventure in Heavy Metal

This fall, we hosted our second-ever Design Build Adventure in Heavy Metal, benefitting the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM). It promised tons of adventure from the moment it began. The 2.5-day workshop kicked off in the midst of a severe thunderstorm that caused flash flooding all over greater Austin.

But the downpour wasn’t enough to stop our 11 adventurers from showing up to embark on a weekend of collaboration, creative thinking, and plenty of music, food and fun.

After receiving sketchbooks, safety glasses, earplugs and bandanas, the adventurers gathered around the bunkhouse table to get acquainted and to hear Jack share a little about the Design Build Adventure philosophy. The adventurers then went out to the shop with our faculty for an Introduction to Tools, where they got some hands-on time with the wire welder, chop saw, band saw, grinder and other tools. This is also when the students got their first peek at the scrap materials pile and began brainstorming what they could build over the weekend. Their assignment that evening was to come up with some ideas, given the constraints on time, tools, materials and labor.

The sky cleared that evening just in time for a campfire happy hour (big thanks to Real Ale!) and guitar pull on the back porch. Musicians included Taylor Tehan, Jesse Ebaugh, Williams Harries Graham, Chris Porter, Payton Keller, and the multi-talented Dan Dyer and James Rosinbaum, who are also members of the Design Build Adventure faculty.

Day 2 began with stretching with Jack and a hearty breakfast. Over coffee, the participants shared their proposed designs. With Jack’s leadership, four design-build themes rose to the top: light, sculpture, fire and furniture. Under those themes, the participants were divided into teams and spent the first half of the morning sketching, experimenting with materials and refining the details of the projects they would create together.

Over lunch, the teams presented their “final” ideas and received feedback from Jack and the DBA faculty. With their game plans mapped out, the adventurers spent the afternoon in the shop bringing their sketches to life.

Saturday wrapped with another campfire happy hour and live music performances by Austin musicians and HAAM advocates Kacy Crowley and Dan Dyer.

On the final day as the adventurers finished their projects, award-winning executive chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki arrived on the scene to prepare for the celebratory dinner that evening. On a pit designed and built on site, the culinary team slow-roasted a pig and a goat and took over the bunkhouse kitchen.

Toward sundown, the adventurers formally present their finished projects: two lighting fixtures, two benches, a sculpture and a “ring of fire.” All six pieces will be put up for auction at a future date, and 100 percent of sales will go to HAAM.

The heavy metal adventure wrapped with a sumptuous family-style dinner under a starry night, followed by more fireside music-making and a lively game of Stump. Jack and the Design Build Adventure team couldn’t be more pleased with the talent and generosity of all who participated — from the adventurers to the musicians to the chefs. Thank you all for making it downright magical.