The MetalMeet Story
....how it all began with a
friendly weekend get-together of "Metalshaping Enthusiasts"
In 2000, Wray Schelin invited George King and Tom
Lipton to his Massachusetts shop for a weekend hands-on
sheetmetal-shaping workshop. One of the projects was wire-forming an
original design radiator shell that was to look something like that
which adorned a late 1930's Alfa Romeo. Wray wanted to stress how the
craft of Metal Shaping could unleash the Creative
Potential and expand Freedom of Design
for those who master it.
Tom and George arrived, and the three friends went
about the tasks at hand not yet aware that they had stumbled across
what was to become the phenomenon know as MetalMeet.
On Saturday night, while they were busy fabricating the wire form for
the radiator shell, Wray said, "I bet if we could get fifty people in a
shop for a weekend, working together, we could build a whole car body
shell!" To Wray's surprise, both Tom and George jumped on the idea and
said, "Yea, let's do it!", and planning for the
first annual FormFest, which evolved into MetalMeet,
The first hurdle to overcome was locating a site
that would be big enough to handle the event, but that was quickly
resolved when George offered his 7000 square foot shop in Huntsville,
Alabama for the meet. Within minutes, the idea became a reality, and
the FormFest 2001 was underway. Now all they had to
do was find forty-seven more "Metalshaping Enthusiasts" to help make it
Fortunately, Metal Shaping had
grown in recent years both as a hobby and as a viable business, so
finding forty-seven more "Metalshaping Enthusiasts" to participate in a
free weekend-long workshop would prove to be easier than they thought.
One of most pressing needs for FormFest 2001 was
for everyone to bring as many tools and pieces of equipment to the
event as possible. The word was put out on the "Yahoo! Groups"
Metalshapers e-mail List, which Wray had co-founded, and which George
and Tom were both charter members. Soon a sign-up list was posted, and
momentum begun to grow.
As the host, George decided that the event was to
be free with the exception of covering the cost of materials that would
be used. The first year went better than anyone had ever expected.
Folks came in from all over the country, coast to coast. A lot was
accomplished in the way of Metal Shaping, but
something significant had been set in motion, and with the help of all
the participants, it quickly developed into an annual event, one that
many waited all year in anticipation to attend.
Since the first FormFest at Georges shop in 2001,
each year has seen a steady growth in interest in the Metal Shaping
Craft, being helped along by the growing presence of TV shows dedicated
to Motorcycle and Hotrod building. Membership on MetalMeet.com was
growing at very fast pace, and attendance at the Annual International
MetalMeet had grown to the level where it became necessary to find a
new more weather friendly location to hold the event. After two
successful years being hosted by Randy Ferguson at his home in
Robinson, Ill., the event was moved beginning with MetalMeet 2005, to
the Crawford County Fairgrounds in Oblong, Ill. Since then, the small,
friendly and gracious, Midwestern town of Oblong has welcomed and
supported our events, and helped MetalMeet to grow and prosper.