Monday, September 22, 2014

Assembling the Genie Bottle at Burning Man 2014

These are the photos I took of the assembly of the Genie Bottle at Burning Man.

We arrived to the Playa on Monday night, and on Tuesday, we were placed, found our trucker, unloaded the truck and put up some caution tape and lights. 
We had over 200 pieces to assemble. Fortunately, we had many helping hands.
This is Marty Kenney, working so hard, he trapped himself inside.
This is the dump truck that brought us decomposed granite (DG).  We covered the ground with a 3.5 inch layer of DG to protect it during the burn.
 While waiting for the ground stakes and DG to arrive, we organized all of the pieces.
Here's what the neighbors were doing at the same time.  This piece is called "Squared" by Charles A. Gadeken.
 This is Embrace by The Pier Group.
 After dinner, we built the deck.  Tiling a pentagon with rectangles is no easy feat!
 The next morning, we finished the top of the deck and raised the main struts.
 Everybody is strutting!
 Zelda Lin inside
 Adding walls.
 Hats off to Marty Kenney for making construction work look classy!
The crane came...
 ... while the sky put on a show for us.
A little dust storm blew through.
The crane lifted the top part onto the base.
While we guided the piece into place with long ropes.
That's Jim Crowley inside bolting the pieces together.
We worked at night to finish the last round of panels.
And then we added the interior, and it was done.
If you would like to see more photos and read about of the Genie Bottle at Burning Man, click here.  Thanks for looking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Tutorial -- Coxeter Bead

 This is my newest beaded bead tutorial, the Coxeter Bead
Coxeter Beads are named after the great mathematician Harold Scott MacDonald Coxeter in honor of his extensive work on symmetry, especially four dimensional polytopes, on which this piece is based.
You weave it like cubic right angle weave, but with tetrahedrons and prisms instead of cubes. This tutorial is designed for experienced beaders, and it includes charts like those found on my blog here. This tutorial assumes you already how to do cubic right angle weave and know how to connect two ends to make a continuous strip. If you don’t, check out this link at my blog to learn how. You should also probably already know how to bead a dodecahedron or at least know what a dodecahedron is before trying this design. This is a dodecahedron.

This is a spinning dodecahedron.

If you want to learn how to bead a dodecahedron, Cindy Holsclaw wrote a free tutorial.  

With most of the same materials, you can make Coxeter Beads in two sizes (26 mm and 20 mm).
This is the main design, the larger version that I used in the step photos.  It uses 3 mm Toho beads and half Tila beads, tiny drop seed beads and some size 15° seed beads.
And this is the smaller version that I describe at the end of the pattern with some extra drawings and photos.
As a beaded bead, six large holes run through the center of a Coxeter Bead.  So you can easily string it on chain or cord.

Although it might sound complicated from that introduction, the structure of this thing is actually quite elegant. Once you get the hang of it, it's quite intuitive, and my tutorial is designed to give you that intuition. Click on the photo below to see the materials list. 
The tutorial is 14 pages, including over 100 illustrations and photographs. The tutorial is a PDF file that gives charts and explanations for reading the charts to make Coxeter Beads in two sizes.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/202740541/
Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Genie Bottle at Burning Man 2014

I recently returned from a long epic journey, camping in the Nevada desert, and making large art for the Burning Man Art Festival.
I was the lead artist for a 25 foot tall Genie Bottle, a furnished wooden gazebo and climbable sculpture made by a crew of over two dozen people.  The Genie Bottle was supported, in part, by a grant from Burning Man.
I worked on the Genie Bottle most days in some way since April, including 13 nights on Playa. Last week, my friends and crew mates burned down the Genie Bottle to ash, and we cooked s'mores over its smoldering hot coals. That was five months of creation burned away in less than a day. The art was ephemeral. It was a study in detachment. However, not everything about the Genie Bottle is gone. There remain numerous artifacts, including stickers, buttons, photographs, pillows, tassels, and the countless memories of festival goers who climbed in and around the piece, sat inside on its couch, enjoyed its light, danced on its pole, and watched it burn throughout the dark night.

Here is what it looked like at night.  It's a blurry photo, because that's how I remember it.
 Here's a clearer shot with The Man in the background.
This was the interior design.  Zelda Lin was chiefly responsible for leading the interior design crew.  She created those stencils on the pillows specifically for this project.  Sarah Leyrer painted the "By Struggletent" and other signs that decorated the interior.  You'll be happy to know that we removed the pillows, cushions, tassels, lights and signs before we burned the bottle.
The Genie Bottle had 20 facets per layer and 7 faceted layers, so a total of 140 facets.  Of these, 120 were laser cut with arabesque designs designed by Marty Kenney.
 The Genie Bottle stood 25 feet into the air.
It weighed approximately 4500 pounds, with about a quarter of that weight in the pentagonal deck.  The deck was bolted to the ground with 10 long ground anchors that took a special machine to hammer them into the ground and remove later.
We had to bolt the piece to the ground to keep it from falling over in high winds or when people climbed on it.  People climb just about everything at Burning Man, so it was important to make it safe.
We could see the genie bottle all the way from our camp, which was maybe a half mile away. (This photo was not taken from our camp.)  Here on the horizon, you can see The Temple and The Volcano on the left and Embrace on the right.
The Burn
We set the Genie Bottle on fire on a Friday night at Midnight.  We removed all of the interior decorations, the crown on top and the steel pole in the center.  We loaded it up with fire wood.  We strategically cut into some of the main struts to help control how the piece fell.  Then about 20 people formed our fire safety perimeter crew, led by Greg Whitehead.  We made a circle about 63 feet away from the ground deck in order to keep watchers at a safe distance.   By this time, a few art cars had parked and a couple hundred people waited patiently for the burn to start,  Mike Ryan added a few gallons of "accelerants" (that's a fancy name for diesel fuel).  Then Paul McGlaughlin threw a couple flares inside to ignite it.  The burn started with a BANG! More people amassed like moths to a flame.
Within minutes, the entire structure was engulfed in flames.
 
The laser cut, 3/4" plywood burned off first, revealing the 2 by 4s, 4 by 4s and the two upper decks.
Eventually, one of the main struts failed, and the washer deck (16 feet up) came crashing down to the ground.  It fell beautifully, with only one large beam falling outside the pentagonal base.

And then it came down completely.  Once our safety perimeter was released, a line of revelers danced circles around the fire.
Here's a little video to give you a sense of the mood when the perimeter dropped.  I simply spun around in a circle so you could see all the things going on.  Forgive me if it makes you dizzy.  Next time, I promise to bring a tripod.
video
The fire burned all night, and a small group of us stayed up to watch and tend the fire.  Once the fire died down enough to get close to it, we made do-it-yourself s'mores.  Dawn broke at about 7 AM with a red sun.
Then the Yin-Yang near us was set on fire.
And then at some point, I looked closely at our pile of coals and noticed foil wrapped potatoes.  Potatoes.  Somebody threw potatoes into our coals when we weren't looking.  Nobody tending the fire saw who did it.  I ate one.  It was a little dry, but I appreciated the thought.
Then I headed home and tagged in our Leave No Trace Crew to clean up the mess: coals, metal bits, and thousands of screws.  And potatoes.  Susan Staley and Mike Katell lead the crew of mighty genies (including Theresa Whitney-Corvino, Sarah Leyrer, and Marty Kenney).  They didn't finish until 3PM.  Next time, we need a larger crew to help. 

The Genie Bottle was a creation by an intentional community, collectively known as Struggletent.  We are multifaceted in our skills and contributions. Over two dozen "strugglers" helped with the Genie Bottle at some point along its creation and burn.  Many new friendships between crew members were created, many old ones were strengthened and, sadly, a few are now broken.  Through the ups and downs of this project, I learned a lot about my friends, and more about myself, and for these insights, I am grateful. I am also relieved to be home again, back to work, and I remain confident that I will continue to create beautiful and complex artwork for and with my community.

Here I am with some of my fellow genies. Christy Burback, Susan Staley, me, Theresa Whitney-Corvino, and Danielle Deckard.  All of these women did more than their fair share in this project.  Thank you ladies!
This is Paul Brown at the top of the Genie Bottle.  He was the chief engineer for the Genie Bottle.  Without Paul, this project never would have happened.  He was the one that turned my sketches into workable plans, with everything specified to the nearest 1/1000th of an inch (a mil) and 1/10 of a degree. 
This is me, lounging on the couch inside.
Other people's photos and videos of the Genie Bottle:
Techcrunch See #37.
Daniel Thornton 
James Addison
Abi Bell
Abi Bell (2)
Arin Fishkin
Arin Fishkin (2)
Arin Fishkin (3)
Video of day 1 of build
Video of day 2 of build
Video at Sunset
Video of the burn




Thanks for looking!

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