Artisan’s Asylum and Red Bull Partner for Flugtag Boston

DATE:  August 25, 2016     CATEGORIES:  Blog, Events

Red Bull Flugtag Boston

This past Saturday, Red Bull held their annual Flugtag competition in Boston for the first time. The Artisan’s Asylum worked with Red Bull, becoming the first makerspace to officially do so. We hosted build days where participants could come and work on their projects. A third of the competing craft were either partially or completely built at Artisan’s, including the second and third place finishers. Red Bull also asked us to help with two very special craft.

by Arlene Elkins

Earlier this year, Red Bull approached the Artisan’s Asylum and asked us to hold a design contest open only to our members for two Flugtag craft that would be shown to the media before the competition. One craft would have a sports theme and the other would be inspired by Boston’s rich history.

“When Derek [Seabury, Artisan’s executive director] sent out an email to [the members], I replied saying I would love to help organize the contest and help in any way,” said member Adam Day.

Red Bull flugtag design challenge

Red Bull kicks off the design challenge at Artisan’s Asylum

Adam acted as a liaison between Red Bull and the Artisan’s Asylum and even set up a few meetings to work on design ideas.

“My original design was a MBTA redline subway car with four wacky balloon men: a Red Sox fan with a beer belly, bald head, and beard; a hockey fan with long black hair and glasses like from the movie, Slapstick, the Celtics mascot with big orange hair; and for the Patriots we put a cape on him and made him a masked superhero,” said contest winner, Sarah Miller.

“One of the crafts in the event was also an MBTA subway car. Red Bull asked us to come up with something else. We threw around three-pointed hat and a baseball glove before at some point Adam or I said, ‘Larry Bird!’”

MBTA flugtag

The competing MBTA themed Flugtag craft on event day. Photo by Kevin Lamont (Artisan’s Asylum member and volunteer).

Once RedBull chose the two winning designs: “Larry the Bird” and the “Somerville Sluggers,” a baseball bat-shaped craft by Adam Day, it was time to pull fabrication teams together and get to work. “I reached out to everyone who had submitted designs and included them in the design and construction process,” said Adam.

Larry the Bird head

Sarah posing with what would later become Larry’s head

“Adam was amazing!” said Sarah. “He not only worked on his own bat, but designed the bird in SolidWorks and used 8×12′ sheets of 2″ thick foam boards and cut them on our CNC router.”

Flugtag design

Sarah and her team sketch out plans and designs for their Flugtag craft

For Adam, the build was a family affair. Members of his family came to Artisan’s to work on both crafts. “The whole Day family was incredible,” Sarah explained. “Adam’s wife came in, six-months pregnant, and kicked major butt. Adam’s dad coming in and helping in the last three days was absolutely crucial.”

Building Larry the Bird

Sarah and Adam’s father work on one of Larry’s wings

A week before the competition, Sarah realized her craft was too small. “It looked as though somebody would be sitting on a dog instead of a horse,” she said. “I went and bought an insulation pack using two five-gallon propane tanks and a gun. I used it all weekend to double the size of the bird. I think it ended up looking rough with the shape of a pig instead of a bird. But that’s fine.”

Larry the Bird body

Trying to make Larry’s body bigger

The day before the competition, Adam and Sarah’s crafts were presented to the media, with two reporters riding the crafts into the Charles: Danielle Niles of CBS Boston on Larry the Bird into the Charles and the Boston Globe’s Steve Annear on the bat.

With the hard work done, both Sarah and Adam got to relax and enjoy the event the next day in style. “The competition was amazing!” says Sarah. “They were really nice to us and gave us free food and Red Bull, and a really great place to sit during the competition. I felt pretty first class!”

Nice Judge Science Bob

Artisan’s member, Science Bob (far right) was one of the Flugtag judges. He filled the role of “nice judge” and generally gave higher scores than the other judges

“It was really fun building the crafts even with the short deadline and long nights, but Redbull was very appreciative and treated us very well,” said Adam. “It was really fun watching them get sent off the ramp.”

Arlene Elkins is an arts administrator, marketer, and project manager. Her hobbies include dance, jewelry-making, and sarcasm.