I may have to take a repair kit, as it is a long way across town. Not a few pieces have failed to survive getting from kitchen to gallery, as many legends will tell. Someone should collect tales about the Jell-O Art Show, before we completely forget our history. Maybe next year for our 30th show we should do that! I'll put it on my list.
My Jell-O Art Show list is long, full of details about things I need to remember for that concentrated day. One year I got halfway there without my costumes...so that's one aspect. I have three Queen costumes planned for this year, with accessories to swap out and strict timing requirements. When the show itself opens at 5:00, I will have been there for many hours setting up the stage, props, staging details, my t-shirt table, the many headpieces I will bring in case someone wants to own one ($25) and display for those. Sometimes I bring an archival piece or two but probably not this year, since somehow I have to fit a throne into my car.
Quickly, since many of you are working on pieces or still planning to, I will remind you of a couple of pro tips. It helps to make your Jell-O stronger than the package directions for any kind of stability in your piece, and to keep it from melting at room temperature. Any extra amount of clear gelatin (like Knox) will help. Those little packets have about a quarter ounce in them I think, so you will need a lot of them to make a difference, plus you can decrease the amount of water to help. If you are using Jell-O brand, you have a lot of chemicals and sugar in there too, which you don't need, since you are presumably not going to eat your sculpture. I buy plain gelatin powder online in bulk to make mine, adding only dye, but some artists believe that the sugar in Jell-O brand helps add strength. I use up to 3 ounces of powdered gelatin per cup of water, but you may not need that much.
The other thing is to know that gelatin has to absorb water a little (called "blooming") before it is ready to get to a liquid state. Mix it up in cold water, even though the package directions on the edible kind say to use hot first. Use hot first if you are not adding any extra gelatin, but if you are, let it bloom in the cold water for about ten minutes and then melt the whole mess. I use the microwave but you can do it on the stovetop as well. Stir it a lot. Get all the graininess dissolved and then skim off any foam that forms on top.
Molds are best for quick work and if you make it strong enough you can pry the pieces out of the mold with your fingers, or try the slight melting technique of sitting the mold in hot water for a few seconds. You can glue broken pieces with molten gelatin but it's best if you plan for intact pieces with few seams, as the pieces tend to separate along their natural lines of formation. Anything can be used as a mold, but flexible plastic might be the best. Scour the goodwills for odd things to use as molds. I've found tons of old molds too, as people don't tend to value them as they used to. You can use glass and harder containers but be warned that gelatin is strong and can chip glass by pulling it that hard. It's truly amazing.
You can also use anything for color, including food coloring, dye, or candy ingredients. Be creative. This is supposed to be fun. As far as making a statement goes, I like to do that, but I don't always connect with the theme. So far my piece does not connect with fools, but it could by the time I finish, and be reflected in the title. Strange artisty things happen when I work on art...my mind flows in directions unknown and sometimes unarticulated. We'll see!
I finished the shirts on Friday and am still working on a few props, plus still learning lines and songs for the performance. I must say this Queen position has been an opening to so many levels of the Jell-O Art Show that I did not appreciate in the same way before I was crowned. I've always done the art and shirts and promoted the event, but now I have a kind of maternal or benevolent view of the happening. I feel responsible, and the pressure to be clever has been hard on me.
|Those Slug Queens use more glitter than I do|
Being able to act from a persona is very helpful, though. I do what the Queen of Jell-O Art wants to do, speak like she would speak, guide like she would guide, and try to empower my public and my fellow artists. She's not autocratic or demanding, unless that furthers the fun of the narrative, and she is a very human queen. She wants to be loved (from a distance) and wants to serve well. She needs no King and never will, in fact she resists power even while trying to use hers for the forces of good. It's a position that is open to interpretation but at the same time somewhat circumscribed in that many things are expected of her.
|This is a Knight of my realm, being far too resplendent.|
I do find that when I rise to those expectations through her, the results are generally pleasing. I got to receive an award for the Radar Angels from the Mayor last year. I get to be as royal as I please as long as I ignore those who don't take the whole thing seriously. And I also get the option of not taking the whole thing too seriously!
And it is supposed to be fun! Repeat that when you have gelatin all over your kitchen and your piece keeps slipping away from you. If Jell-O makes you her fool this year, no matter. It will be over quickly, and you will get another chance next year to be in similar straits. Don't worry about it. Bring your failure and put it on a pedestal, and you will find it looks a lot more successful in context. Art is not supposed to be perfect, it's supposed to be creative. Do your best to open your synapses and let your brain tell your hands and eyes what it sees.
Here's your chance to do real art,to take it to any level you like. It's all up to you. I will love it no matter what. So when you see an old lady in a funny outfit come to ask you about your piece and your artistic process, don't be afraid. I am not going to make a fool of you, although you are welcome to that option. And don't mistake me for one of those other slimy Queens, the Slug Queens, though there will be several of them there trying to be important in a realm that is clearly that of Queen Gelatinaceae of the Jell-O Art.
Just kidding, they're not slimy. I am truly grateful to those who show up, costumed in style, to honor our show. If there were not Slug Queens setting a graceful example, I would not have my own position, very likely, and wouldn't know what to do with it. And anyone who goes around in lime green and chartreuse gets accolades from me. I am lucky in that I get all the Jell-O colors, which I interpret to be all the colors. My slime comes in a rainbow.
We will see what our designated Slug Queen representative, Sitara Slugshine, brings for our delight. She will appear around six to give her Benediction, so come early. It's also best to see the pieces if you come early. At 7:00 when the Radar Angels perform, it is a bit hard to see the art, and at 8:00, the big trash cans come out and everything gets put away. So see you there!