Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Best Tsunami Ever

I think that's what I'm naming my piece. I might think of something more serious that better fits the simplicity and elegance of the sculpture though. Today I took it outside and fussed with it a little, but it was really finished so I simply dusted it off and put it in a tub to take to the pr
e-show tomorrow night. We have dress and tech rehearsal so I'll use the opportunity to get my carload of stuff over to the gallery. Besides the sculpture I have a big tub full of fascinators, a box of props, a pile of hats and wearable Jell-O for my characters in the stage show, a table, tablecloths, and a bunch of things like tape, hammer and nails, and display pieces for my Jell-O to sit on. It's a big pile, so I wanted to get it all organized today.

This great hot weather was perfect for drying Jell-O outside (and laundry too) so I made three little roses on sticks just to round out my offerings in case people want to buy things but not wear them. I still love the shirts which is a good sign. Often I'm disappointed in them and sometimes they don't sell, but I think the laughing Einstein will be a winner. People might not recognize the image of the gravitational waves but they soon will. This interpretation is pretty far from the ones I found online, but all the nerds will get it. Most Jell-O artists have nerdy tendencies. Most Eugenians have nerdy tendencies for that matter.

A couple of people had technical questions about the dried gelatin this year (including someone eating lunch outside the Kiva today when I put up a poster) so I thought I'd take this opportunity to write about my piece instead of waiting for Sunday. Thinking to explore the liquid properties, I poured my gelatin out on big tub lids and let it flow around, tipping and shaking the lid to see what the molten goo would do. When it stopped moving I let it dry on top, then peeled it off, flipped it, and laid it over some glass jugs and jars I put on their sides atop the entertainment center. That let it sag and curve and I made about ten pieces of various watery colors like that. Some curled more than others, and some I curled on purpose. Then when I thought I had enough I simply stacked them up and made them look like waves lapping over each other kind of like the surf does when it runs up the last stretch of beach before it all sinks into the sand or back down into the sea. One trick I used was to get pieces of it wet, usually by brushing it with a bit of water, to bend it and shape it when it would crack if I tried to do it dry. This takes restraint, as it will certainly fall apart and melt and stick to everything, including your fingers, but I'm careful and usually get the results I want. I still enjoy it when it does something on its own without my help. Randomness in art is very appealing to me.

My wave isn't completely realistic, of course, but it all fit together quite naturally and I barely modified anything. I glued it together between the layers in a few spots but mostly just let it sit, feeling like it might not be a permanent piece so it didn't matter to me if it stayed together in any particular way. I'm really running out of space to store this stuff so I have to start recycling it into other pieces or letting it go to the compost pile. I'm a bit less attached to some of it as I age. Some of the earlier stuff looks quite crude in technique and hardly worth dusting off, and really, I say it should go into the Smithsonian but the chances of that are pretty darn slim and meanwhile I could use my project room for actual projects. As I learned from my one year of trying to be a famous Jell-O artist, it takes rather constant promotion to keep oneself up in the googleverse and trying to get into a museum would involve much more serious promotion than I am willing to do. Everything takes time, and I'd much rather spend more time out in nature than on the internet or writing letters and making phone calls.

We'll see how much of my collection I do let go, but you never know. People change. I don't really want to continue to accumulate worthless stuff, making a nasty chore for someone if I leave unexpectedly. My Mom set such a good example recently of selling her house and almost all of her stuff, and hers was actually worth something, so there was a reward in selling it. Mine will merely involve a large dumpster or several trips to the dump, plus a giant free pile. Maybe it would be fun to put some of the Jell-O outside in a rainstorm and watch it turn back into mush and get eaten by slugs. Might get the chance on Sunday.

Sunday my plan is to do as close to nothing as possible, though. I know I'll be exhausted. It's hard to explain how much work is involved in producing this event, which is literally the focus of three months of my life. From helping write and stage and practice the performance to putting up posters and sending out PSAs, we all participate and do as much as we have time for to make it happen. I'm skipping Opening Day of Saturday Market for it, kind of a blow to my income for the month but if the shirts sell that will help make up for that. I'll miss my Market people but there will be another Saturday right around the corner. This year we have some excellent musicians working with us, so the musicianship is a few steps up from amateur. It's not all the way to professional, with the exception of a very few, but they have pushed us into some pretty fine shapes. I think you'll really get a kick out of this show. We won't hurt anyone's feelings, it's all fun and games, and it's uplifting without any kind of moral message whatsoever. Just ridiculousness. Simple hilarity. Joyous cleverness. Harmony, beauty, and one bit of smelly history that will only amuse. You know you want to be there. There won't be a repeat's just once. Twenty-some minutes, and then it will be Jell-O Show history.

And this year we get a double hit of the Slug Queen, Markalo Parkalo, Your Queen and Mine. That will likely not happen again. There is one surprise I can not even give a hint about, plus I invited the Mayor. I'm guessing she'll come, though I told her if she got the chance to take a vacation instead, she should.

It's the day after tomorrow!! I'm all full of anxiety and excitement and trying to remind myself to savor it and enjoy the heck out of every moment. You should too. On April 3rd, it will all be memories. And leftovers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shirts! And Stuff.

We will have t-shirts. It was super hard this year, because I keep forgetting how old I am and how hard screenprinting is getting. I got too ambitious. This is a three-color waterbase, and it is wide, way wide. I don't even have a squeegee wide enough anymore. Printing waterbase has to go quickly, because the ink dries in the screens, so I knocked myself out but I did make it through and turned the screens upside down for a few tote bags too. I was worried about the black printing over the colors but I used the flash to dry them and all four platens so I got great results with that. I guess my main problem was that I had to use my poor body in ways it has not been used for several months, and it wasn't happy about it. Guess I'll go back to printing one and two color only and stop trying to make pearls to set on the table for cheap.

You can only get these shirts at the show, and they are traditionally only ten bucks because it makes no sense to have a bunch left over. I don't mind giving some away, except that I worked so hard I don't think I should. I think I'll give out some half-price coupons maybe. Really ten dollars is a ridiculous price for a shirt of any kind, much less one like this, so maybe I'll just grin when people ask about shirts for free. I thought about saying, "Do you know how insulting that is?" but that would just be mean. I'm the one who gave so many away that people got the idea that they should get one for free.

So that's done, and all the props are done too. I didn't make many this year, and had help with those. Jacque made the cool horses and Annemarie made a bunch of bright surfboards and other accessories that will look fantastic on stage. We are bringing some palm trees out of storage. Mostly we won't have many props because the stage is so full of people. That's fine with me. I still haven't gotten my taxes done, so there was no way I could have put the time in on set pieces that I did last year.

I missed that time, though, always a lot of fun for me. I love creating illusions out of cheap posterboard and markers. I thought last year's props were outstanding and really set the scenes, but they weren't exactly necessary. They just create the layers of meaning and visual richness that I love and I particularly love the funky way we get to do it for the Jell-O Show. It's supposed to look homemade. That's part of the charm.

I do kind of wish for the shirts that I had added this one more layer of detail that I left out, the warped grid that made the gravitational waves look more 3-D. It would have made the printing even harder and probably would have meant making extra screens to try to get all the detail in. I briefly thought of adding some handpainted detail like I did last year, but I won't. They're done. I have actual paid work I am supposed to do this week. Today I can't, because my days of fulltime printing are over, but tomorrow I must. At least some of it. And then more practicing, and then comes Saturday, and tra la la! See you at the Gallery!

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Week to Go!

Finally taking a break from practicing to write! Thought I'd check and see if my video is still online, and it is!
Jell-O Video Go watch it so it will stay popular enough to keep out of the internet dump.

We got good pre-show publicity yesterday, with little articles in both the Eugene Weekly and the Register Guard. These were for the call to artists, and as always I hope next week isn't too busy so they decide to feature the event too. If you're on Facebook we do have an event page, and there are lots of things posted on my own Facebook page, Gelatinaceae too. In addition, the Radar Angels have a Facebook page. So plenty of places to make your likes and comments and get the jiggle-giggles. I expect Mr. David Gibbs will continue to post lots of things as he does Instagram and who knows what, and he's just a little bit excited about his 20th year. Here's a cool photo he posted today that I had to steal.

I'm excited about it too, and it got me wondering how many others can claim longevity as Jell-O artists. I know a couple but not how many years, so if you are one of those people let me know so I can make a good list. It's worth recording these things for the archives. I actually do have a Jell-O Art Museum, and plan to donate it to the Smithsonian someday when I am finished with it. You know they'll want it. 

And I suppose there could be a book. I have a few books on my list to write someday when I give up all of my busywork. I've given up writing the story of the Radar Angels, as it isn't believable and I don't remember it accurately either. Plus I was hanging in the wings most of the time because I am not a person who loves group activities. I sure have been doing a lot of them, though.

The performers have been practicing twice a week, long, chaotic practices that are just beginning to really be enjoyable. It's always fun to sing, but trying to get everyone to do what they are supposed to when they are supposed to is pretty tough in such a wild creative group. We crack ourselves up with the wild lines and moves we throw in just to be silly, though when we get on stage in a week we will be terribly serious. As you know if you have ever watched a show.

Costumes are one of the most fun parts and I have some great ones lined up for myself. I will be wearing St. Vincent de Paul and topping my outfits off with Jell-O, as per usual. I got some great shoes which got me really thrilled. They were on sale but are actually expensive shoes marked way down, and very comfortable. I really must wear good shoes now, even for a few hours. I won't be in heels although to give you a hint about my character, she always wears heels. In fact she has to as her feet are permanently molded into the provocative heels-raised position that throws your bottom into a come-hither shape and kills your back. So yeah, mine are properly called mules. I will wear a couple of aprons and some gloves, cat-eye sunglasses, the usual Radar Angels Jell-O Show outfits. That's just a bit of what I will have to put together for my several roles. I get to be the Queen and an artist and the hostess and at least two great stage roles, and that's just me. It will be a legendary stage show. The music and dancing are the best ever! You'll love the premise, too, it's just hilarious. People will be talking about it, so you'll want to see it for yourself.

There will be t-shirts, which reminds me that making the design was supposed to be at the top of my list today. I needed some time off. It's just as important to do this, to my mind. This will be a super busy week, and I wouldn't want to miss writing about it. And now, because you read to the end, I will show you a preview of my piece. It doesn't look as good on my back porch as it will in the gallery, but I like it. Kind of simple for a change.
It's big, about 30 inches across and half as high. I don't know if I'll do anything more to it or not. I made a lot of Jell-O, so I'm a little tired of it, and I still have to make the Tacky Food at the end of next week if I have time. Guess we'll see. So if you don't hear much from me, come to the show, as you will have to see things in person for yourself. I know if you are one of my Saturday Market family and friends, you can't come, and of course my heart is broken because I can't sell on Opening Day, but we'll be together the second week of April and that will have to do. We have the whole year. Jell-O is only now, and then it's gone. Except for the museum, of course.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Wavy Waves

As exploration for my own interpretation of Jell-O Waves I decided to go with seeing what it did in liquid form. I poured out my usual recipe of aqua and green gelatin on big tub lids, the ones that are 4 ft. or even 5 ft. long. (I have a lot of plastic tubs on hand.) After I poured it on, I moved the lid around to let the gelatin flow as it cooled, seeing if I could get some permanent folds and ripples and other liquid forms in the dried form.

It has worked really well, so I made quite a few in several watery shades, and my plan is to glue them together and make a big wave, hopefully cresting or breaking in a fairly realistic way. For now I just have the shapes as they dried, but I plan to wet some of them in places to curve them or nestle them so the colors will add up to new colors as the pieces meld.

Hard to photograph, hard to imagine, but easy to do.
The one shown is about four feet long and is now an element in a different sculpture, but you can see how they look after pouring out several layers of gelatin. The thickness determines the color and that is interesting as well.

When they have dried enough for the edges to lift off, about eight hours or so, I peel them off carefully and flip the pieces over onto a series of glass jugs laid on their sides, or in other words, an undulating glass surface. That lets the wave pieces dip and swell and get out of a flat plane. The results of that part have been very satisfying. The edges curl and scallop themselves much like the leaf and flower pieces do, but on a bigger scale. A couple of the pieces will make super elegant wave hats, perhaps.

Next I have to come up with a t-shirt design concept. I found the lettering I want to use, but the graphic is still elusive. I like to let my visual mind ruminate over the course of a few weeks to see what I run into, think about, or decide works for me in the format I want to use. I prefer to make handmade art for the shirts, and do it the old-school way of taking a drawing to screens to prints with nothing more than a copy machine and my skills. It sounds hard but I've done it so many times it's more fun than work. I'm trying to hold onto that attitude as much as possible with the Jell-O Art Show. Make some fun!

Oh, and here is the poster! Big thanks to Jacque Klas for great design!!