48 minutes | May 27, 2019

How to Make Nerd Nostalgia

Episode Details Air date: May 28, 2019 Guest: Adam Volpe Runtime: 48 minutes Summary: In episode 6 of Season 2, Jen sits down in her home with a fellow resident of her town, Adam Volpe. Adam talks about how he came to create fantastical metal weapons and other pieces of welded artwork.  Links of Interest: Adam on YouTubeAdam’s business (PrettyHateMachining) on FacebookPrettyHateMachining on EtsyBoston Voyager interview with AdamThe New Jersey Italian Accent Explained What I Made This Month From the transcript: “And now I’d like to tell you about something I made this month. It was quite a long process because of how fine our chosen yarn was, but I was able to finish knitting the new baby’s blanket just about a week before my due date. The pattern and yarn match nicely with the two previous ones I’ve made for Emma and Joey. But this blanket is made with a lighter yarn since this is a true summer baby. I’m excited to use it for monthly baby pictures and as a daily sleep surface for my new little one as we lounge on the porch and in the yard. I hope that your summer is filled with lazy afternoons with cold beverages and happy memories.” Episode Transcript Introduction Hello, and welcome to “How to Make a Memory,” the show that explores the items we make for one another and how they impact our relationships. My name is Jen Tierney and my guest this episode is a fellow resident of my town in Massachusetts, Adam Volpe. A few years ago, Adam posted a picture on our community Facebook page about his side hustle of welding metal sculptures, artwork, and weapons. It took me some time to get up the courage to ask him to come be on the show, since he was a complete stranger before he walked in to record with me a few months ago. But my concerns about having a 6’2″ stranger who welds giant metal weapons over for a chat about making were quickly dispelled when I discovered that Adam is one of those people who you can talk to for 5 minutes and feel like you’ve known your whole life.  A quick note before you hear our conversation. We make reference to a game called WoW on several occasions throughout the episode. Wow is short for World of Warcraft, which is a popular massively multiplayer online role playing game that we both played for several years in the 00s. There are other references to video games, televisions shows, and conventions that some of you may not be familiar with. All you need to know in order to enjoy this episode is that Adam and I share a love for some specific pieces of gaming pop culture from 10-20 years ago. The specifics aren’t super important. Conversation Jen If you want to introduce yourself a bit because all I know about you is that you live in my town. Adam Okay. Jen And that you occasionally post pictures of these very impressive pieces of metal work that you do. And that’s it. That’s the extent of my knowledge of you. Adam Good. That’s a good start, right? Yeah. So, my name is Adam Volpe, this side thing that I have – metalworking, metal artwork, weapons smithing, whatever you want to call it – It’s like, basically just a little side hobby that just kind of kept growing. And people got interested in my stuff. I didn’t – I never even started it with the goal of having a business or making money even or anything like that. So it was just for fun, something to do. You know, at best, I hoped maybe one day I could just make my money back on the materials, you know, whatever. It just – I started posting this stuff online and it just kept growing, you know? It started with Facebook and Instagram, and then the YouTube videos. And it just keeps going. It keeps on going. I’ve got a shop on Etsy and everything. Jen Really? I didn’t know any of that stuff. So that’s cool! Adam Yeah, it’s probably been… It’s been almost four years now. What happened? Jen That’s great. Oh my gosh. Oh, wow. That’s awesome. Yeah. Adam I actually started doing – I don’t know if I would call it artwork, but it’s probably the closest thing. Like, I would make – I made a scale model of the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. It’s sculpture I guess you might call it? Something like that. Jen Yeah. Adam But once I made my first sword, everybody was like, “That’s awesome.” Jen Yeah. Adam And people were like, “How do I buy this? How much do I gotta pay you? I don’t really care.” You know? So. “Oh, okay, this could be interesting,” right? Jen Yeah. Adam Like I said, at the beginning, I just, “okay, let’s just make back the material and consumables cost and so forth.” And then it’s just kind of gradually rolled into a second job. Jen That’s great. Adam It’s my second job now. Jen Okay, that’s awesome. So, I see a lot of the sort of like, cosplay version of that kind of stuff. Every year my husband and I go to PAX. Adam Yep, I went this year as well. Jen There’s a ton – Yeah, it’s, we love – I don’t think we’ve missed a PAX East yet. We’ve been to every one. We may have missed one, but yeah. Adam Really? Okay, so you’re more hardcore than I am. Jen I mean, we really love it. But we’re not – we’ve only gotten dressed up once. So we just go to like, enjoy all the dress up. And we play a lot of Magic the Gathering. And we like to play test a lot of the indie games. Adam Really? Okay. Jen And we go to a lot of the panels and stuff like that. So we like the full PAX experience. But the one time we went and we got dressed up we… Are you familiar with The Lego Movie? Adam Yes. Everything is awesome. Jen Yes. So my husband went as Emmett, and I went as Wyldstyle. And Emma was like, three months old. And we dressed her up as the Piece of Resistance and put her on Joe’s back. It was very cute. So people really liked it. So yeah, so I’ve seen a lot of very intricate, beautifully made weapons in that context. But obviously, no one brings metal to that. Like, that’s a thing. You can’t walk into PAX with like something that could really be a weapon. Adam Yes. And honestly, that’s something that has kind of held me back in a way because I would love to go to one of those events. Comic Con or any kind of anime convention or whatever and have a booth or something. But, completely out. You know, they said, “Not even a chance of this happening.” Jen Yeah, yeah. Adam It makes sense. Large groups of people and giant dangerous weapons is probably not… you know… Jen I’ve made things in the past that I’ve been like, “I’d love to sell this at PAX.” But I certainly don’t make at a level where like, I don’t mass produce things. You know, I make like one or two things here and there. So I’ve thought on a number of occasions of making a business card with the kind of things that I make. Like, I make a lot of hand knit dice bags and things like that. Adam Okay, cool. Jen So I wonder if you could like go and just have a card with you and be like, “I make giant swords. I see you have a giant sword. If you’d ever like a real giant sword, let me know.” Adam Just have posters of them up. “Here ya go. This is what I sell.” Jen You could wear one of those big… you know, one of those boards you see outside sandwhich shops. Adam A sandwhich board! Jen Yeah, a sandwhich board, exactly! Adam I could. Jen You could. “I make giant swords!” Adam Interesting side note. For whatever reason – and I’ve never been able to understand this – But I try to spread my stuff online everywhere. I mean, obviously, I want more people to see everything. I post on you know, Reddit and every Facebook group. Everything. And I have found that 99% of cosplayers are not interested in my stuff. In fact, I would say that, that’s where I get most of my negative reactions. It’s like a totally, it seems like it should be such a related field. But it’s totally separate and the two sides don’t even like each other. I totally was expecting to get a lot of support. And that’s where I get like all my down votes and everything. The cosplay subreddits and everything. I guess, if you’re into cosplay, and this is the best I can, you know, assume. If you’re into cosplay, you’re into it for a specific reason. You know, you want to go to these conventions, and you want to dress up and you need something that you can carry around for eight hours. And you know, and you have no desire to be swinging these things and smashing free Craigslist furniture and so forth. That’s not… That’s not what these people are into, basically. Jen I totally get that part of it. The part of me that thinks that people would be into it is like the part of me that – I could do cosplay. I just don’t, it’s not where I put my energy. But I would totally do it. However, the part of me that loves video games and movies and all those incredibly intricate, cool worlds, when I see the things you make I go, “That’s so cool. It’s like from the thing I love. I could see that as a piece of art in my house, not as a thing I’m going to carry with me, but as a thing I want to own because it looks just like x.” Adam Right. And so this is actually where most of my customers come from. The stuff I make largely is technically functional. You know, if you can swing a seven foot long sword, you know what I mean? It’s technically functional. It will hold up. It’s sharp. It will cut through
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