I recently started volunteering to help build a part of the Temple of Promise for Burning Man 2015. My friend Jazz Tigan is the artist who created this year’s winning design, and he's been bugging me for months to put my metalworking skills to use. I finally joined the volunteer team of builders, and I'm so glad I did!
The design of the Temple is a giant, sweeping spiral made of wood and copper. In the center is a grove of steel trees -- that's the part that I've been working on. Though most of the Temple construction has been happening in Alameda, sculptor and metalworker Kevin Byall has been spearheading the Grove fabrication at American Steel in West Oakland -- just a couple blocks away from my studio at The Crucible. Hear Kevin describe the project in his own words:
So far, it’s been an absolute blast. They’d already created the tree frames out of steel rod when I joined, and now we're cutting steel screen into slivers and wrapping it around the tree frames. I don’t have much experience working with organic, flowing curves, and I’ve learned a lot of new fabrication tricks already.
One aspect that I've really enjoyed so far is the experience of being a worker bee on a large team of volunteers. I’m used to working solo on Elektra Steel stuff, and it’s really cool be able to tag-team construction challenges with a buddy or two.
It’s also given me an opportunity to brush up on my MIG welding and plasma cutting skills, neither of which I’d used since high school. I forgot how many sparks there are with MIG! I foolishly welded without a jacket one day, and I'm pretty sure I singed off most of my arm hair.
Helping out on such a giant project is starting to give me a sense for how massive sculptures are constructed. I’m getting inspired! I'm thinking that I might want to design something huge at some point in the next year or two...
This is just a small peek into one portion of the Temple prep -- there's a whole other circus going on in Alameda, where a team of volunteers have spent the entire summer working on the Temple itself. They're loading up the trucks now and will be hitting the road soon! Follow Temple of Promise on Facebook for more updates.
If you’re going to Burning Man this year and would like to contribute to the Temple of Promise, please consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign. It’s going to be a stunning space in which to reflect, and its existence is due to the passion, money, and elbow grease of the Burning Man community. Thank you, and see you on the Playa!