Monday, September 16, 2019

it starts Here...

It all starts with this little spike decorated with fluorescent pink tendrils, marking your spot on the Playa. I'm not sure why this little marker makes me so happy, maybe just being placed somewhere, build it here, right here, an unveiling of months of work.

I admit the last few months have been rather intense. I worked every single day on the Flybrary starting early May. I have never before been as focused on a project, and I really understood how much of me it would require. In those four months, my family and everything else took the back burner. Now, as the dust is settling there is finally time to digest the here it goes...

Some of the many pictures of the experience, starting with one of my new favorite peeps, Brian, holding it together in the air. Thanks to his and Johnny's amazing wrenching hands, there was not one bolt missing. Three day build, VR forklifts, a tow-behind-pneumatic ground anchor driver, a boom lift, Christian's Hiab crane and a huge 75 ton crane for the bird truss. That's something!

I had good help, but even managing people is a lot of work. I am grateful for being prepared both physically (thanks to ketosis) and mentally to make it happen. And it did. 

My lipstick cladden forkie, Margaret. Bad ass inspiring.

I had a fantastic crew, and they all got along as well, an important factor in keeping it all going. Big shout out to you all! 

The camp at BM, known as the Flybrary Art Support Camp/ Taos Camp, was lovingly planned and put together by a few and was hands down one of the best camps to date. 

The food was amazing. The weather was incredible. To those of you who have not ventured out to Black Rock City, this may be no big deal, but to those of us who have- we know that crew, camp, weather and food will make or break you.

Anka flew in from Berlin to cook bacon and eggs..amongst other things..

Sabrina joined us for a few fun moments.

..a small repeat from 2018 of the three musketeers, repairs on Atlas..

And I got to fly! Really, after almost 20 years I finally got to see it from above in a tiny Cessna. A real treat, thanks Firefly!

The Flybrary was so much fun. We checked out books all week, spontaneously opening whenever we wanted, the Flybrarians jovially steering the mood within the head. About half of the checked out books came back, which is great. The response was impressive and I think most all had a memorable moment in or around the sculpture. 

Harlan joined us for the family portrait.

We all are looking fuzzy sharp after my presentation at the ARTery.

I had invited two Danish members of the Human Library to stay with us in camp. I had never met them before, and it was to be their first time at Burning Man. Sif and Kay turned out to be fun loving adaptable people who will remain friends far past the playa. 

The Human Library was a complete hit at the Flybrary.  We checked out human books almost every day, and as the word spread more and more people came to check out the books. It was tremendously moving to see the interchanges between "book" and "reader" and to get some feedback afterwards. Lots of discovery happening there. Burning Man seems to be a fitting environment for this model and I can see the Human Library returning for years to come.

some reading going on...

sassy Flybrarians

The core crew and I were out there for three weeks. That is longer than I've ever stayed before, and the actual Burning Man festival started to fade quickly that last week on the Playa. During the event I was still working, getting fuel for the generator, dealing with lighting, running various Flybrary errands. I actually did not see much this year as I was chin deep in the project. It was really an experience in festival world, how this immense production comes about and how it disappears in a matter of days. We left Friday, almost a week after the event ended, with only a one or two forklifts and forkies left to help us out on a mostly empty playa in the middle of nowhere, Nevada.

We had trucked the sculpture to BM on one commercial truck and the rest of the components on Christian's awesome crane truck, Atlas, as well as full size trailer. It always looks like a circus is coming to town when we transport our work, and so picking a safe route across the States is important. We chose to go through Arizona, as Flagstaff is such a welcome hub for us...but just outside of that liberal bubble of a town we got pulled over, and "put out of service". The stress this caused was unnerving, as we had to reconfigure our load with the addition of yet another truck, backtracking to save the day. We re-arranged the load again once we crossed the border into Nevada, for they seem to have seen it all in Nevada. Except I did get a ticket for driving too slow! That would be towing a travel trailer with a 20 year old Toyota, not an easy task.

I decided that the stress was not worth it so I order a second semi truck for the return trip. The trucks were supposed to be arriving the same time, but trucking is an organic thing, so we loaded the last truck a day after the first, a week after the end of the event, after a rain storm.
I've seen more of Gerlach in this trip than over the last 20 years. Enough said.

We drove home lighter and faster, Atlas carrying the travel trailer and the Toyota zipping right along. We skipped Arizona and came through Utah this time. That's pretty creepy too though.

Clearly we were all relieved to make it home, and the Flybrary came back on two trucks, weathered but well. 

Ulanova taking a moment.

Where to next? I do not know yet, but I hope its second life will be somewhere semi permanent or permanent. There is interest and more is brewing. That feels great, as it has been such a labour of love, and I believe the message in all of its forms is timely and relevant. 

endless de-MOOPing....

More soon. xo

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The hands that build...

So what happens when you work on a project every day for four months? You stop blogging! I have been holding on tight, as the ride of a build is a varied experience, with speed bumps, smooth sailing, tremendous joy and utter anguish.
We are almost off to the Playa, and I'm sure this will be my last blog post pre-Burning Man. I promise to take many many pictures!
This post is mainly dedicated to all the hard working people that have lent a hand from the beginning. Thank you.

One little Lady Welder Good time Haver can only build a Flybrary with the help of many hands. 
Your sweat, tears, laughter and blood made it come together, in this tight deadline. Thank you from the depths of my blackened heart (it's still there)
Really, thank you!

Here they are, in no particular order, my peeps, my shop team, my crew. 
My best man, hands down.

Claire. Came from afar to help a ton.

Definitely a talented LWGH!

Travis Webb, talented Blacksmith who saved my arm from completely falling off.

Indy, showing her amazing dedication.

Doug, a seasoned crew member, friend and good time haver.

My love, for whom I dedicate this work.

Cedar. Always got my back.

Adam, my talented lighting creator.

Fergie aka Big Chicken, helping getting it to the finish line.

Peter, the busiest guy I know, who still shows up and saves the day in the 11th hour.

Laurita, such a bad ass in the shop. A fellow LWGH.

The two remaining Lady Welders Good-time Havers.

Love you all!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Crowd Funding!

The term "crowd funding" has a complicated set of emotional reactions for me. I guess most of my reactions are more negative than positive.. 

I think this is related to the fact that I believe art is absolutely necessary for a healthy culture to exist and I believe that artists should be supported as such.  When artist have to reach out to the greater community to help them get their projects funded, it feels to me like there are some serious cracks in what we value in society. I mean look at the value we place on sports. Not that sports are not valuable, but the disproportionate amount of money that goes to athletes, in comparison to a teacher, a pediatrician or and artist. What does that say about what we value? 

Not to mention the popular crowdfunding platforms for people who need financial help through tough medical situations, what does that say about our healthcare system? It makes me angry, and the fact that crowd funding even exists points to the broken socio-political systems we live within.

And yes, sure the crowd funding platforms can ignite more interest as they are personal advertisements for their causes. And yes, I feel very grateful to have partial funding for a project of this size. And it's simply not quite enough to get it done. And so, I like many, resort to crowd funding to ask for support and get my art into the world. 

Now that we are clear on how I feel about it...jeez.

This project is HUGE, and I do need a little help to get it through the finish line. (get that sports reference). Every little bit helps, there is no way I could build this without your support, and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to make thought provoking sculptures!

The making of the video below was a fun project in itself, and I am lucky to have a brother in law, Cles, whose talent is abounding in film and editing. Thank you Cles!

Enjoy a glimpse into the build of the Flybrary! If you can contribute please go to:

and here's the video:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Gotta love the angles...33.5˚

Work on the Flybrary has ramped up to full speed, which really means working every day, early to late, and then for me dreaming about what needs to be tackled the following day. Pacing is a crucial aspect that I have been forced to learn over the many large project builds and so far so good. 
Because we live in rural Northern New Mexico, obtaining materials for a project of this magnitude is a feat of its own. I finally received my weekly steel order at 8pm last night, pretty much a day and a half after it should have been delivered. The driver got lost in this beautiful landscape. The steel really is only freighted up from Albuquerque, but I guess it looks quite different up North.
My Mcmaster Carr orders that should take three days max, take on average four days, sometimes five. Welding supplies and gases need a dedicated trip to Santa Fe, which is almost a day trip from here. And parts for things that break, well the broken thing remains broken a little longer. It can get complicated, especially in keeping crew busy, when the foraging of materials has gone haywire. Really most of this is out of my control, so I'm flexing with the turns. Again, pacing..

In the shop it's a daily whirlwind of measuring, re-measuring, dividing the angles and cutting angles. I have to muse at the fact that I did not much like geometry and I find that I am completely immersed in it with this build. The truth is that it can even be fun, as I love what I'm working on, so the math is challenging but rewarding too. 

The many different planes add a twist that can bend any brain not fueled by enough coffee, but it is the process. The real life version of the piece is looking good.

All projects this size require helping hands and help from my friend Claire,  has been invaluable on this build. She has tackled everything from child care and cooking as well as grinding, cutting, drilling, plasma and layout in the shop. She is also working on assembling the book-birds.  
Her literary interest and knowledge of books has been the foundation for the Flybrary book collection. She has gone through and catalogued all books we have so far. To my great demise she is heading back to Barcelona soon, where she lives, to jump into other fun projects. She has touched all aspects of this build and lives within the Flybrary project, which she sadly wont see this year on the Playa, but hopefully another time.

I have had a mutinous elbow for the past few months, known as lateral epicondyles, basically a tear of the tendon around the elbow joint, and I am trying to steer clear of all forging. There is some small stuff, but hammering really adds to the inflammation, and it's very painful. 

My blacksmithing friend Travis has come to the rescue and is helping forge some of the parts for the neuron circuit inspired chandelier. He is a very skilled knife maker, so this stuff is easy for such a talented blacksmith.

I am expecting a few more people to join the team in the next few weeks, welders, filmmakers(for my crowdfunding video) and more enthusiastic helping hands in the shop. Definitely always looking for more skilled help in the shop!

Christian, my wing man, has been in NYC with our son, for almost 10 days to afford me solid work time. Though I miss my boys daily, I appreciate the space to be able to just do what is needed at any time.

A few more pictures below of the connection flanges, and the larger view of the shop, with the back three head panels under construction The Flybrary will soon outgrow the shop and the build will need to continue outside. That will be interesting and will require all kinds of heavy equipment. Sometimes I wonder why I dreamt this so large...

Next up, I am working on designing the ears for the head. That will be fun, as I can build them with slightly smaller pipe, which is simply easier to work with. The large pipes for the super structure are here(those are the ones that came last night). That will be fun to make the interior structure to hold the 8x head panels. Here is the latest drawing from my incredibly busy and talented engineers.

Onwards! Coffee and dirty shop clothes ahoy! If anyone can recommend some decent work pants that fit women please speak up. I am tearing through a pair I just bought and as most of us metalworkers know...staying protected is the key to shop happiness.(and of course looking your sparkly best)
More soon!