Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gelatin Art My Way

I've been having fun in the last few months trying for a presence in the world of Jell-O Art. Today I googled Gelatinaceae images and it was all my photos! Actually way more, it included photos from my other blog and even stuff from the Saturday Market photo gallery. Not everything of course, because strange are the ways of Google.

I have to bring some of the posts and images from the other blog to here, and I will start with some photos from this year's Jell-O Art Show. For anyone new to the scene, the Radar Angels have been holding a Jell-O Art Show for some 23 years, and I have always been a part of it. There has been an evolution, and now I spend a lot of time during the winter months when I'm not retailing, working on Jell-O.

This is me at the show, trying to get the piece assembled, and the show has already started. The next photo is the moment I turned to see a crowd of curious and amazed people all focusing on me! I look quite startled and utterly delighted. It felt like a highly significant life moment, the true fame I didn't know I wanted.

I had made two sets of win
gs, an upper and lower, but they wouldn't stay on the way they had at home and I eventually gave up and wore the top set, the pink ones. The third photo is a shot of the wings, from when Rich Glauber invited me and Scarlett the Old Queen (who is wearing the other set of wings) up onstage on Opening Day of the Saturday Market, which is the same day as the Jell-O Show most years. It was quite the triumph for me and for Jell-O Art, though in the big world it went largely unnoticed.

The top photo is one of the mask, shot by Kim at the Market, which stands out on its own as a wonderful piece of art. the last shot is the piece set up at my house, in my project room, which is going to be my Jell-O Art Museum. My retirement plan is that I will charge a dollar admission and give tours of my archive of Jell-O Art and Radar Angels memorabilia and artifacts which will probably force me to be open every Tuesday between 1:00 and 1:15 pm. It's about as solid as all my other retirement plans.

But the good thing about being a Jell-O Artist is that there is no need to retire.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nothing New Under the Sun

Upon further googling, I found gelatin art and even a book with plastic templates to make the process super simple. Primarily for use in cake decorating, the flowers shown by Cake Connection are made with wire stems and florist's tape, with very thin gelatin petals that are quite beautiful.

Mine look much more one-of-a-kind and are thicker and stranger than theirs, but they have not only products to sell you but a video showing the entire process. It does give me a few ideas for texturing and shaping using flat molds, brushing on the gelatin in its liquid state.

Still, I will forge ahead with my plan to make many of these, and expand the possibilities. They do fascinate and delight. That may be quite enough.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Highly evolved species

I am so in love with the useless objects that really need a glass dome or pedestal for proper display. Maybe shadow boxes, or anyway something fancier than the spruced-up cardboard boxes I'm providing.

This last one is an iris, about a foot high with stem, very difficult to see flat like this.

Presentation will come, I feel sure. I'm only charging thirty dollars for these right now, a bargain. Of course remember they are jello, with no data about how long they will last and still look beautiful. I'm prepared to say a decade at least, since I have pieces that old that still look perfect.

But marketing will definitely be my challenge. Useless objects of beauty and astonishment are perennially popular, though. People need these.


Here are the roses, some bundled in threes for bouquets. The hardest part in making these is matching up the colors of petals and leaves. Even using mainly the same two dyes, fuchsia and avocado, with a bit of yellow and forest green here and there, the endless variety of shades is amazing.

I so love the way the petals distort themselves beautifully with very little direction from me.

Jell-Oh Art Museum

I spent the whole day taking photos of all the Jell-Oh I have at the moment. Most of them need a lot more light, and I know presentation in general is what I have to work on. Here, as inadequately as photography can capture their lively fascination, is the range of what I am offering.

These are just the ones made to wear on your head. I will make separate posts for the other types of flowers. Genuses? These are primarily orchids.

Jell-Oh Family: Genus, species

So the botanists among you will take issue with my juxtaposition of species and family nomenclature. Set aside the fact that these are not actually plants and not actually subject to universal rules, but anyway, Gelatinaceae is the family name. Then comes genus and species, and if I really get into it, I could name each creation with its own, dividing the collection into lots of categories.

Might, eventually. For now I just need to make a bunch more of them and figure out how to market them effectively. I'm giving out a lot of cards at the Market and have already gotten quite sick of the question: "Can you eat it?" There is always a downside to popularity, and to be seductive means to attract a lot of attention, not always the kind one hopes for.

I did correctly name the "orchid" I entered in the Arts Alliance 6x6 show, which sold to my friend Susan Sibilia-Young, catapulting me into the arena of professional Jell-Oh artist, though I actually did not get the $30 as it was a benefit for the gallery. The name was Gelatinaceae: Gelatinum something-or-other. I have failed to record it anywhere I can find, but the blog about it is here:

The young woman who bought the first one at the Market will remain unidentified, though I hope she did wear it in her hair to the prom. Thanks to her, I have made several on hairbands now and have a good time wearing them on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

My interest in nomenclature was sparked in my early twenties when I landed a wonderful job at the Colorado College botany lab, where I assisted with classes, mounted specimens in the herbarium, and got to go on fabulous field trips all over the Rockies, collecting and identifying wildflowers. As it turns out we were surveying lands that would be developed as ski areas and towns such as Vail and in the Aspen area. The development was going to happen, and we were looking for endangered species. I recall us finding a few, but of course we were not able to prevent what is most likely disheartening development forty years later. I haven't been back to check, but I often fondle my memories from those long summer days in the soft mountain air, looking closely with my hand lens at the tiny details inside flowers, keying plants out to see if they were what we thought they were. It was a perfect life for a summer.

Naming plants has been an interest of mine ever since. I got fired from a nursery job in NYC for being more excited about looking plants up in the books than I was for cleaning spider mites off their leaves. Technically I believe the firing was for failing to keep the leaves from coming off a gigantic banana tree when I cleaned them, but no matter. The tree was probably worth at least hundreds of dollars, but I was so young then, didn't care much about that.

My first job in Eugene was working at Gray's Garden Center, which was still the feed store then, and my friend Chris and I were the only young women who worked there at the time, hired to sell tomato starts. The Gray brothers were still running the place, despite their style differences, and there are lots of funny stories from that time. The guys bought me an orchid when I got laid off finally, though I was unable to keep it alive, alas. I rescued several almost dead plants during that time and might still have one or two. I love rescuing plants and helping them recover through my style of benign neglect.

But as far as the Jell-Oh goes, it's still hot in my priorities and naming the individual pieces seems like a plan, though kind of a painstaking process. I do already miss the ones that have sold, and hope I remember to photograph every one of them. The blog will help with that.

The greater complexity and astonishing variation should keep me interested as I develop this art. I get a huge kick out of telling people that I am probably the only person in the world doing this. I know that won't last, but hey, how often in your life do you get to say that with any confidence? I didn't expect to.

A big thanks to artist Ruth Ann Howden for the idea to call it Jell-Oh! Perfect marketing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A new species of flora

I've started this new blog for my latest art series, gelatin flowers. I've developed, over 23 years of making Jell-O Art, a technique for making gorgeous, seductive flowers out of dried gelatin.

The variations seem endless, the colors brilliant, and it's so much fun I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. I'm there in the photo on my birthday, with my special hair ornament.

Also shown are a few of the roses on apple branches, of which I've made about a dozen and a half now, and a closeup or a few of some of the orchids. I'm working on irises now, and a mermaid or two, and will be making fairies, many other types of flowers, and who knows what else.

I've written many posts about the process and my exhibit in the annual Jell-O Art Show that happened April 2, 2011, at Maude Kerns Art Center, over in my blog divinetension. That blog includes other thoughts about Saturday Market, where I sell every weekend, and other things happening in my little life, but this one will be exclusively for the jello art.

After 23 years, it was just a brilliant flash of an idea to try to sell this art. It seems to be working. Every week I spend many hours explaining the process and convincing incredulous folks that it is indeed not glass, not plastic, but gelatine. Except for the dye, the flowers are 100% gelatin and water. My cards say they are useless objects of senseless beauty, or senseless objects of seductive beauty, and that they are no longer edible. People can't quite grasp the concept, so far, but the objects are so glorious, I have sold several to people who are just as fascinated by them as I am. I'm excited to show my new ones each week, on Saturdays, and also at the Tuesday Market.

I might just be the only person in the world making and selling these right now. My living room is full of big trays of petals and leaves waiting to be jelloed together. I'm also decorating boxes for them and figuring out how to make them into headbands, pins, tiaras, and whatever else comes to mind. Stay tuned!