Monday, December 26, 2011

Lost & Found

Burn, baby burn. Uh... no!

I traveled to Black Rock City for the first time in 2011. I’ve been talking for almost a year about Burning Man. I talked your ear off about my participation in Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. We built the largest working timepiece ever built: a clock with a one-mile diameter clock face. It was awesome.

I talked about my art piece for the 1MileClock, a woven newspaper piece; a 4 foot by 6 foot weaving glued and sealed on a ¾ inch thick sheet of plywood. I hauled that heavy artwork about 800 miles up to Northwestern Nevada from Palm Springs.

In October, I wrote about having an early arrival pass to Black Rock City to work with the 1MileClock team to build the number towers for the clock. The lead-in photo for that blog is a photograph of my artwork. Stick with me. There’s a point to all this.

On the Saturday of Burning Man week, the BRC DPW (Black Rock City Dept. of Public Works) moved the 12 clock number towers to a designated burn area. Forty-five minutes after the Burning Man burned, the clock towers were torched. It was an awesome sight. There were fire dancers doing their thing before the burn. There was a large crowd gathered for the burn. I looked for tower #5, where my artwork was. It wasn’t there. There was a blank space where my panel had been.

My art piece, along with 7 other art panels had been stolen between the time the DWP moved the towers and the time of the burn. My art panel was one of those stolen. Someone took the time to unscrew an incredibly heavy 4’ x 6’ panel from the clock tower and carry it nearly a mile off the playa. Not just one panel, but 8 panels.

On one hand, I was very disappointed to have created a piece of artwork specifically for the purpose of being torched at Burning Man. On the other hand, it was somewhat gratifying to know that someone liked my artwork enough to go through all that trouble. On the other hand, (wait, I have three hands?) it bothers me greatly to have my artwork out there not knowing who has it or what’s being done with or to it. Is it proudly displayed in someone’s home? Is it being used to patch a hole in the side of a barn? Where did it go?

Yesterday, I received a FB message from James Bowers, the brain & driving force behind Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. Jim wrote: “Jerry, Merry Christmas my friend! Guess what!? I've recovered your stolen art panel. It's being safely stored at my house (and on proud display). Not sure how to get it back to you.... Ever make it up to NorCal? Hugs – Jim”

What a surprise! I thought they were gone and lost forever. Jim was able to track down the eight stolen panels and have them all delivered to him! I have no idea how he did it. I suspect he’s being discrete about it on FB. I will certainly weasel it out of him in 2012 when we're all home again in BRC.

Jim wanted to know about how to get it back to me & did I have any suggestions? After thinking about it, I wrote: Great recovery job, Jim! I am happy to know their final disposition! It was the "not knowing" that bothered me most. My suggestion is to burn it. Perhaps we can take them to BM 2012 & torch them? That was to be their destiny. Burn it.

I created this artwork with full knowledge it would burn. It didn’t burn. Even though it will be a year late. Burn it.

Thanks for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chain, Chain, Chain....

In my art, I love to take small bits and work them into a whole. I work with beads. I work with tab tops. I work with any collection of items that can be pulled together into a larger piece: tin can lids, key chains.

My BFA in Education background is in weaving… textiles. You take thread or string and weave it into a larger piece. Take something small and create something big.

Early on, I enjoyed using traditional techniques such as bobbin lace to create my artwork. I would use non-traditional materials such as choir or sisal with bobbin lace techniques. The results were strange yet familiar. Most traditional weavers would look at my work and not believe what they saw. I loved the mind phuque.

The bulk of my work over the years uses newspaper as my media. Woven newspaper. People look at it and can’t get their minds around it. “Did you paint all those little squares?” “Did you cut out all those little squares of paper?” “WHAT is that????”

I love using every-day items in non-traditional ways.

For 30+ years, I’ve been interested in using wire to make “things”. It began with my student teaching days: I taught a class in Beginning Jewelry. I needed to come up with lesson plans to teach jewelry making that required no heating of metal. How do you teach jewelry making and keep the attention of both the boys and girls??? AND not melt metal?


I developed a six-week lesson plan that utilized wire. The girls made earrings and pendants from wire. The boys made bracelets and, well, bracelets from wire (turned out they weren't interested in other forms of jewelry). I showed the girls how to make jump rings from copper wire and how to use them to make chains and other items. I showed the guys how to twist different gauges of wire into “wire ropes” and how to hammer them into bands for bracelets.

The students love the class. Everyone one left class with the jewelry they’d made.

Thirty years later, I’m still “playing” with wire. And newspaper…

I taught myself to make chain maille. I wove together links to make fabric. What I didn’t know was that I was making Japanese 4 in 1 chain maille. I knew it worked but it didn’t look like the chain maille I’d seen in medieval armor. I wanted to make THAT chain maille and I never could figure it out.

For years, I searched on line for instructions: they were so obtuse, no one could be expected to follow the instructions. And then… I found them! Thank you Ring Lord!

My 30-year (passive) quest for Chain Maille has come to fruition. I now know how to make the European 4 in 1 Chain Maille….

Now, what am I going to make???? Something totally useless.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson