The answer is ‘yes’, what is the question? Sharing my enthusiasm for STEAMhouse

The induction tours and next steps*

Following on from meeting with Lily to plan out the project. The next step at STEAMhouse was the General Induction tour, followed by Production Space and Digital Suite introduction. As much of each induction focusses on building and machine specific health and safety, I’ve condensed them into one reflection.

The atmosphere is friendly and professional as you enter STEAMhouse. With all the research happenings at BCU there’s often an event on at the same time.

Full Steam Ahead, STEAMhouse, steam engine with writing on the cloud of steam
My journey with STEAMhouse is building up steam. Shutterstock image

Paul Barlow, senior digital manufacturing technician, did the General and specific inductions for my groups. He is a real master of the production space and happy to answer any number of daft questions. There are the usual rules and regulations in place to protect members and staff. Part of the production space is devoted entirely to metalwork, another to wood.

There’s a spirt of entrepreneurship throughout and a strong communication of what’s expected and what each material and machine can do. It was marvellous to meet other members, both artists and non-artists. That’s what I like about STEAMhouse, that Art and STEM can cheer each other on.

After the first induction I gained access to the members only area, including the production spaces. It is a bit magic to go into the behind-the-scenes zone.

A highlight for me was the extraordinary range of bio-materials being used and created. It’s eye-opening what can be achieved with coffee grounds! If you’re into alternatives to wood pulp paper check out Maren Krings’ expert work with Hemp and Photography.

Biomaterials at STEAMhouse on the table, artist and manufacturing of biomaterials, printer and Production space image
An example of some of the biomaterials being trialed at STEAMhouse

Paul reiterated the importance using the machine’s to fulfil the (art) business goal, rather than creating for the machine. Focussing on my plan sheet has really helped to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome AKA art materials addiction.

To satisfy my desire to create affordable, scalable artworks I’m going to need to fine tune my prototypes and create them in software. Fighting the urge to panic, I remind myself that there is a lot of support with this, including an online self-paced course, YouTube and specialist technicians to ask.

The creation of prototypes is covered in the funding, so it’s a chance to make the mistakes without losing a fortune. A bonus if you’re a cash-strapped artist. I’ve left each time feeling like this is a life-changing opportunity. I’m super excited to get started but daunted by the upskilling required.

As updates happen, I’ll be sharing them both here and via Instagram. If you’ve got any experience using Fusion 360 or taking on new skills I’d love to hear your advice below.


* “The answer is ‘Yes’, what is the question paraphrases the Leonard Bernstein quote made famous in Harvard’s Norton Lectures, the contemporary version has been made popular in the UK by author and entrepreneur Neville Wright and in the USA by author and restaurateur Cameron Mitchell.

The Norton Lectures from Harvard University Harvard Charles Eliot Norton Lectures

Leonard Bernstein

Neville Wright’s book

Cameron Mitchell

For more on the wide range of uses for Hemp, including a book created on hemp paper see Maren Krings website Hemp Hub • Maren Krings Photography

STEAMhouse Welcome to STEAMhouse! The perfect place for your business to grow!

BCU Birmingham City University (

Sister site

Shiny Object Syndrome – CEO Entrepreneur

Fusion 360 (Autodesk)


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