yesterday with both feet. Felt like a cannonball, but the water was warm and inviting.
About twelve or thirteen of us crowded onto the stage at MKAC yesterday and entertained the annual meeting of their Board with a few short songs. I was so grateful to all of us for showing up in style and being so easily expressive. The musicians of the moment, Larry, Wren and Marty and Sunny, really carry things through and are extremely easy to work with. Dependable, cheerful, supportive...I could go on. I was sick all week with a terrible cold and had to miss the one rehearsal we had for this mini-show, but I'm guessing you could hardly tell. We stood up there with no mics, no strict procedure set up...we winged it. I think it sounded pretty good, though I tend to not hear anything much when I perform, being in an altered state of hyperpresence/absence because I'm an introvert and not an experienced performer. But maybe it's the costumes or all the low-key family singing or just the supportive group of Angels, somehow I get up there and sing loud and don't care and just do it like it comes naturally. Indi often has to tell me obvious things, like look at the audience, etc. but really, I amaze myself when I get up there and do that.
It would not be possible without the accepting nature and the high level of support of each one of the group. While singing and playing an instrument at the same time is an astounding skill, it is no less important to put on a wig and some ruffles and get up there to just be part of the group and sing behind whomever is singing. The one who has my undying gratitude and is really the one who gets the most credit, is Indi Stern. She is the glue that keeps it all together. Each and every one of the lovelies who showed up was fantastic in their own right, so a big thanks to Karen, Nan, Annemarie, Jacque, Mark, Sakti, and the ones who wanted to be there but couldn't: Ariel, Tania, Ruby, Sherri,Teresa, Jorge, Noah, Liliana, Jennifer, Angela, Joanie, and the rest of the sixty or so who call themselves Angels. Thanks also to those who came in support, Bee, Clare, Jude, Ben and Terry, and more. Huge thanks to the Board and Staff of Maude Kerns Art Center for thinking of us and the opportunity and their cooperation. Over-the-top cooperation as it turned out. I offered the chance for people to wear a Jell-O flower on their heads and since there were 20 flowers and about 50 people, I figured a couple would do it and the rest would stay in the box. Wrong! I should have brought more. It was so thrilling to look out over the audience at so many men and women wearing Jell-O. No one seemed to be too sophisticated to try it. That was the best. What a great community. And here I have to say a word of thanks also to the dearly departed, especially Gil Harrison, who was always there, and is sorely missed. And my still very-much alive mentors Leslie and Celeste, who always were able to make looking professional easy and possible. And still do. And Mom!
I had of course been quite nervous about our reception and my speech and giving a piece to the gallery, but with all the support I tend to try to just live with the anxiety and know that the crowd will be forgiving. It's like a lot of Radar Angel things, you put on your apron and put some Jell-O on your head and pretty soon you're Marilyn Monroe without the tragedy. It's like a lot of Life things I suppose, and I think I'll expound upon those in my other blog, http://divinetension.blogspot.com/ where I write about the more personal side of it all. This is the Jell-O Blog and yesterday was a Big Jell-O Day.
I had a lot of inquiries about the dried gelatin art itself and if you look back there is a lot of expostion in earlier blogs about the technique. I'll say it again here: it's really simple. I get gelatin powder, which I buy in bulk but for a start you can get the Knox stuff in the little packets. You mix it in cold water, and for the dried stuff or wet stuff you want to make art with, you mix it stronger than the package directions. I've settled on a formula about 12 times stronger than the 1/4 oz package meant to mix with a cup of water (or 3oz per cup). I think it would work 6 times stronger or anywhere in between, so just try something and see. The gelatin content makes it strong, the water makes it workable. After you mix it in cold water, let it sit for at least 10 minutes to "bloom" or absorb the water. I do it in a canning jar, because then I put it in the microwave for a minute or two to melt. Let that sit a bit too, then skim off the foam, add a little color (I just use liquid procion dye because I work with textiles and have a lot of dye around, but you can use food coloring or whatever you want) and then pour it into dishes in thin layers. You can also melt it in a pan if you don't want to use the microwave.
|This is a jiggly one by David Gibbs|
I put the dishes on top of the furniture where it's hot and come back in a few hours to tend it. I generally run my fingernail or a knife around the edge and then pry it out, in one piece or several, and then flip it over to dry some more. I make petal or leaf shapes at this point, sometimes laying it over the edge of the dish to bend or curl. You are going to have to experiment according to what you want as a final result. I have tried to keep it flat sometimes, which is pretty hard, and I also use textured surfaces sometimes, like a plastic lettuce leaf bowl I have that makes nice flower and leaf replicas. Sometimes I'll stretch it or cut in a spiral so I can pull out a long string to make boingy things. I twist it and shape it or just let it do what it wants. You have to tend it for a couple of days depending on your heat, or less, so you have to pay attention. If it changes texture in a weird way, remelt it. I've gotten rid of mold with bleach, but once its moldy you might as well throw it out and start over, as the animal origins tend to emerge with a nasty smell you don't want to add to your smell memory bank.
To make the flowers I just select pieces I like, hold them together in various ways and then stick them together with melted gelatin (not too hot, it can burn like crazy and sticks on you). Sometimes I'll clamp with a clothespin or just hold it together (for at least a 60 seconds) and then set it up again to dry. If you don't like it, you can pry it apart or get it wet and take it apart, or remelt the whole thing. It's really up to you to work with it and get to know the limits or the open qualities it offers. You can use objects in additional ways, like wire stems or toys or whatever you think helps your piece say what you want it to say. It's art! You are the artist and it's your job to work with the medium and your creative process to make something from nothing. That's an incredible joy for a lot of people and worth a try for everyone. You are an artist if you create.
To me that is really simple at this point but like I said yesterday, I feel like it took my whole life to get here. Jell-O Art made me an artist. I started out with my box of Cherry or Berry Blue and went from there, and you can do that too. The wet jiggly kind of Jell-O Art has its own delights and in fact I think I might challenge myself to make a wet piece this year. That also has its own demands, mostly because it will only last a few days so you have to do it right before the show (which is March 28 this year.) If you want the jiggle you can't make it as stiff, but you can use the Jell-O brand if you want and just add in a bit of Knox or less water, and those pieces have lots of charms too. That type of work is actually harder than the dried, in my opinion, but can also be quite rewarding. Perhaps another blog post.
|This was made in a complex process and I'll tell you someday|