Saturday, March 18, 2017

Telling Secrets

The Radar Angels have always tried to keep the performance details a secret. This comes from the Olden Days, and at the 29th year we are qualified to have Olden Days. It is not the 29th Annual, to be precise, because one year was skipped, but anyway that's a lot of shows.

The secrecy is from the other big Radar Angel activity, being a part of the entertainment at the Oregon Country Fair. It seems, according to legend, that if the details of the show got out, the Vaudeville people would steal them and scoop the Angels by putting them in their own shows. Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery, but it makes for some lively fun, and probably there were leaks. Leaks are inevitable with secrets, of course.

And details of the performance are fun, and I can't resist. The idea behind the pictured prop came from newish Angel Michael Hall, bless his heart and his aorta too. I loved the idea of Borscht-flavored Jell-O and it works with the theme. I was going to save it for a surprise at the show but then, in agony for a better t-shirt idea, I decided to base my shirt on it.

It won't look quite like this full-colored giant box but the Fool's Jell-O theme makes sense here. Like if Cherry Jell-O was gold, this would be fool's gold. Pretty obvious that anyone who eats it would feel kind of foolish...really, a dessert made of beetroot? 

I don't know why not. I plan to make some for the Tacky Food Buffet, actually, because I'll bet it will taste as good as any of the other flavors and concoctions that people bring to the Buffet. It certainly won't be the strangest thing ever eaten in that room at Maude Kerns. If you are very lucky someone will bring something even more unusual and you will get to taste it. It depends. All the food is supposed to be legally edible which means made in a commercial kitchen with all efforts to not make anyone actually sick. It's fine to gross people out. You know when you see that fake kitty litter with the tootsie rolls you get a little thrill out of eating a tootsie roll. If you like them. People always love biting the heads off the icons, after all. We live for some safe risk.

So yes,  a teaser prop like the pussyhat was, and maybe I'll post more if I actually get down to it and make some. I have a brain full of ideas and somewhat less will to manifest them. I hope I'm only procrastinating because there's a fantastic idea in there trying to find the way to the light. I'm certainly not a lazy person...but I do admit to taking my time to get around to some things. Deadlines help.

And April Fools' Day is fast approaching. It's practically here, really. I have a lot to practice today, songs I am not quite to the harmony on, costumes I have to figure out how to get in and out of. Props that would be nice if I would put in the time to get them made. T-shirt art that must be drawn. There's no turning back though, as the shirts arrived and await me. 

I had to write a post though. I know there is at least one artist out there thinking and stirring. A Slug Queen or two is dusting off a crown and many people are thinking they might attend if they don't have anything more fun to do at the end of spring break. 

It's a fun day, usually, April Fools. Lots of people have great pranking abilities and we all need a laugh. There will be that short window of opportunity to do it with gelatin, and many wild ideas are crossing minds out there. They have certainly not all been done before. Yours hasn't, that's for sure. Do it. Fool us. Fool us twice. No shame will be involved, and how many places in your life can you be sure of that? Not many these days. Plus, you can find out all the secrets and decide for yourself if they are worth keeping. 

That zeitgeist, she is hard to grasp. We're trying to pin it down, but that might not happen until the very last minute. You might want to see it, through the Jell-O lens.

 
 

Friday, March 3, 2017

It's Jell-O Time!

Oh, gosh, I am having such a hard time getting the World of Jell-O Art launched this year. I got out the pieces and made some more pieces and made a few flowers 
 for gifts and such, but I have had no luck getting into my piece. I gifted myself this big bell jar 

 





and have a few ideas of what I want to do, but I am making very little progress. All of this protecting human rights and calling out liars is taking up a lot of time. At least I did make a hat. It isn't quite finished but it will be fun to wear as part of my costume. I mostly do things to see if I can and this one was a fun challenge. I used the plastic sleeve from a bag of potatoes as I thought it would expand and stretch well but it mostly contracted and shrank, so it was fun to have some technical problems to deal with. For things like this I use a rim of romex electrical cable...it stays stiff but can also be shaped to fit your head, and I sewed the plastic mesh to it around the bottom after it was covered with the gelatin. Then I made a hat to go inside it out of one I had around, because dried gelatin is scratchy and hard and not comfy to wear like that anyway. I try to make the headpieces comfortable by the way I attach the bands and mostly succeed with that. But you can happily deal with your own technical challenges, as that is definitely part of the fun.

 Yes, we are working on the show, and the theme, 
Fool's Jell-O, is one I am falling in love with. Everybody is a fool, and that is all I can tell you about our secret show. We keep it a secret for fun, and of course to hide the fact that it isn't ready until it's ready, and it's nowhere near that yet. We know what songs we're using, and the rough outline, but I have a lot of decisions to make about my character and what she will say and do. I kind of know what she will wear, but the bigger question is how many outfits I will try to put together. The trick for us, the Radar Angels, is that we have historically had a finger right up the zeitgeist and it makes for some really rich comedy and high amusement. This year will be no different with our fingers pointed everywhere and most of all, at ourselves. Because what could be more foolish than spending the better part of two months producing a silly show that lasts for twenty minutes of a three-hour event that somehow takes up at least a week? I doubt there IS anything more foolish. Of course, as you know, a fool is not as simple as she appears. So look out, zeitgeist.

Since I spend almost the whole day at the Gallery, I can't go to Opening Day of the Saturday Market, which makes me sad, but as Queen Gelatinaceae of the Jell-O Art Realm, I have a bigger responsibility to my art and my public than I do to actually making a living. Apparently. But this year, anything that makes me a greater fool is part of the plan. I do encourage all of you to play up this April Fool's Day opportunity as much as you possibly can. Dress up!

We all need some levity! We need a lot of it. I do find my best self in art and creating, so I'm here to encourage you to get started. It's already March! There will be many distractions, not to mention marches, so we will have to try to keep a focus on what's really important, and that is Jell-O. 

So quickly, what I make is dried Jell-O, or actually generic gelatin that I mix up really thick and dry out in really thin pieces. I then glue it together into flowers and other items with the molten gelatin as glue, so it's very simple in concept and as complicated as you want to make it in execution. I put in a little dye but you can color yours with practically anything you like. 

By thick I mean like 6-12 times the recommended amount of gelatin to water. In other words, cut the water in the directions to a fourth or less. I put mine in a quart canning

jar, filling it half full of cold water and stirring in 6 ounces of gelatin. You don't have to make yours so stiff, because I am guessing you don't buy your gelatin in 5-pound bags as I do. 

You dissolve the powder in the cold water and let it bloom for awhile, say 15 minutes, and then melt it, in the microwave or on the stovetop. It then clarifies as it cools a little and you can skim off the foam (maybe drying it for your art) and pour the melted gelatin into dishes or molds or whatever suits your plan. I use glass pie plates that I have dedicated for the purpose because the dried gelatin can actually pull chips right out of the pyrex so you can't use them for food again. It is really tough stuff.

I make it really thin in the molds, like less than an eighth of an inch. For it to dry before it gets mildewed, it can't take more than a day or two. After about eight hours or so you can peel or pry it out of the dishes, flip it over to dry the other side, and tear it or cut it or stretch it or otherwise manipulate it in whatever ways you like. It's quite fun and if you don't like what you made, rehydrate it and you can start over. That also works if you can't get it out of the pans...get it wet and wait a little and it will be flexible again. Tend it carefully and if it does start to get moldy, you can try brushing it with bleach or melt it and start over, and there is always the compost pile when you give it up. Rats eat it happily, probably possums and raccoons will even eat it. (Raccoons might be too picky, since it is only technically carrion and hard to wash off.)

But if you want the  famous jiggle you can't make dried...you have to make wet and that you have to do closer to the show. It will keep in the fridge for some time but you might want to make a practice piece and then remelt it or start over. If you like to use the Jell-O brand, go for it, but it has too many chemicals and sugars in it for me, and attracts ants, so I don't use it unless I am making edible things. And of course I don't recommend eating it though I admit I took this to a Thanksgiving dinner and we all ate it. It tasted great too.




Molds are the easiest way to get the shapes you want and plastic that is slightly flexible is probably the easiest thing to use as a mold, but I have tried many many things and generally they work within their limits. Jell-O is not a particularly cooperative medium, so try to remember how much fun you are having and don't get discouraged.

For some reason I can't comment on my own blog so don't expect a response if you comment here, but you can contact me on Facebook or by my email, dmcwho@efn.org as soon as I wrest it away from the phishers that conned me last night. This Fool stuff is for real, and I am susceptible. Very. 

If you aren't, take a risk and let yourself play the fool in some new ways this month. I'll try to post often, and keep a presence on my Facebook art page, Gelatinaceae, and we do have an event page as well. And, if you're curious, I have another blog, Divine Tension, where I really play the fool. Repeatedly.