Monday, June 23, 2014

Genie Bottle Update 3

We are still working on building a giant genie bottle, big enough to sit inside and enjoy a few moments to make a wish or two.  We call ourselves Struggletent, the camp that struggles with our tent.
We are community of artist, engineers, designers and makers who are working together to build a 24 foot tall Genie Bottle at this year's Burning Man Art Festival. The Genie Bottle is supported by a grant from Burning Man.   As the lead artist on this project, I am also documenting our progress.  This is my fourth installment on this project.  Read Update 2, Update 1, and The first post.

Will Corvino cut more than 150 pieces on the laser cutter with Paul Brown's specifications.  Here you can see Paul, Jim Crowley, Will, and Melanie Schrader, genies in residence and members of Struggletent, posing with some of the panels that make up the outside of the bottle.
In cutting the panels, we are left with lots of letters, numbers and pretty flourishes, some of which are on the ground here.  You can also see the two doorways on the right.
We are designing the bottle in the spirit of Arabesque art, which includes a tradition of calligraphy.  So, what should we write?  Paul and I chose about a dozen of our favorite math and physics equations to decorate the panels that will be at eye level.  This is the Fourier transform.  (We lost the dot on the i.  Must remember to drill that out.)  We like to think mathematics are the wishes granted by the genie.
This is the washer deck that will be 16 feet off the ground on the finished art.  That stack in the background will be the mezzanine deck, which will be about 5 feet off the ground.
On top of this washer, we built one of the smaller levels as our test level.  Start small. Then go big!
The bottle has 140 side panels cut on a laser cutter into trapezoids.  Then, we have to cut all four edges of every piece to have a bevel so that the pieces will fit together at the proper angles.  Paul figured out all the angles, and we are using a table saw and a jointer saw to cut them.  Here Paul works the table saw, while I admire Marty Kenney's knotwork designs.
Assembling the pieces requires lots of drilling of nails, thousands and thousands of nails! Fortunately, Stuggletent has many helping hands and several power drills.  This day's drillers including Theresa Whitney-Corvino, Paul and Jim.  Will is in the background beveling two-by-twos on the jointer.  We use the two-by-twos to join almost every seam.
You can see some of the two-by-twos on the inside here.  The seams that won't be joined by two-by-twos will have either bigger wood or metal brackets.
The top level will have a crow's nest that Mike Ryan and Scott Anderson are making from rolled steel.
Here is Mike Ryan preparing to bend the steel pipe.  And here I thought that only Super Man could bend steel.  Maybe Mike actually is Super Man?!
Here we are leveling the ground for our test build.  The Playa will be very flat, and we need a very flat surface to build our sculpture.  Will ran the rototiller, then, Will, Theresa, Paul, Jim and I all helped with the raking and leveling of the dirt.  We will have just enough space for the ground level deck plus just enough room to squeak around each edge when it's built.
Here you can see how far we are today, two layers of panels and the washer deck.   Doesn't Marty's artwork in the cutouts look amazing? 
Thanks for looking! Here you can see photos of the finished Genie Bottle at Burning Man.


  1. That is a substantial project. I love it! Keep the updates coming.

    1. It's one of the largest projects I've ever worked on. I'm so looking forward to seeing it finished!


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