Dec 26, 2013

I finally made it.

 It took me three years but I managed to get both tickets and a group to camp with in 2013. Even after three years of planning and research Burning Man still managed to blow all my expectations out of the water (I read JRS and the official blog religiously and have seen every documentary I could get my hands on).

I originally started this blog to chronicle my creative process in prepping for Burning Man, but I spent so much time and work preparing I had little energy left over to blog.  A suit covered in google-eyes, a hand painted jacket, several hundred dollars in faux fur, and a LED tutu made from 24 square yards of fabric, it was a hell of a process.

I did however take an old point and shoot with me to the playa and over the course of the week shot snippets of the most amazing parts of my trip.


Upon returning I took a volunteer position with Apogaea (Colorado's regional burn), I'm designing a new shade structure that fits in my Honda Civic, and I'm tentatively planning on returning to BRC in 2014.

Feb 2, 2012

Ticket lottery, what happened.



I'm not going to yell and scream, I'm just sort of quietly baffled at what happened.

For an event that took months to sell out last year, did the economy really come roaring back and boost the number of people wanting to attend by that much? Or did scalpers manage to buy up enough tickets us regular BRC residents couldn't get any? That doesn't seem very likely either.

Dhamma Seeker has some different cause and effect theories that I also find interesting. He's finding an approx 33% ticket purchase rate which will no doubt affect the ability of many theme camps to, well, exist, and he goes on to ask:
If there isn’t a glut of unwanted tickets available through STEP, then the event truly just hit an inflection point. The culture dynamics will be instantaneously affected.
But back to my own ideas, my best guess is that with all the hysteria and vitriol currently directed at people who entered and won the lottery multiple times, those who ended up with extra tickets are laying low.

And with that I say, I'm still in need of two tickets and would be interested in using the secure exchange system if you have some.

I won't hassle you for having entered the lottery more than once. '-)

virginburner at gmail dot com

Sep 28, 2011

Triumphant News

For the last three years I had been out of traditional full-time employment as a licensed architect. Things got so bad that over this last summer I had to get a job at Walmart. This financial strain combined with the end of a friendship 1-month before BM cancelled my travel plans for 2011's event.

For the sake of my architectural design portfolio I assembled the completed dome to take some photos.










And that triumphant news I promised?... I resume normal employment as an architect on Tuesday. This means I should have the disposable income to attend BM in 2012.

Lastly for all you shade-structure-philles I also whipped up a quick youtube video explaining the more technical details of construction.

Jul 29, 2011

falling apart at the last minute

Of all the things that could derail my plans I didn't expect a friendship falling apart to happen at the 11th hour.

I'm now seeing if other friends want to purchase the tickets from my former travel partners. Meanwhile I have a Burner friend in LA suggesting I find a craigslist ride-share buddy to split costs with. That would leave me still camping essentially alone, without the close emotional support of friends I feel is necessary to experiencing the event.

Sorry for being somewhat glum and less entertaining than normal; I prefer to deliver bad news in a straightforward manner.

Jul 15, 2011

Hushville placement rejected by BM org

Ugh. I'm very not happy with BM org at the moment, they have rejected Hushville's theme camp placement application. Hushville mind you has been in existence since 2001 and out of the blue BM org has declined to place us. Mush as Kidsville provides a refuge for those seeking a camp for their families, Hushville provides a refuge for those seeking a home away from the amplified noise of BRC.

Hushvillian leaders are appealing but pending that I suppose I'll be looking at other quiet places to camp like the walk-in zone.

Your thoughts on relatively quiet places to camp in BRC are appreciated.

May 11, 2011

Getting a coat pattern with a hood


I'm pretty sure I'm going to use an Ilaniowear pattern (above) as the base for my jacket. Only problem is that Ilanio's male coat has a collar, not a hood, and I'm more of a hood kinda guy. However their super girly coat pattern has a hood:



So for a while I considered shelling out $300+ for a custom made coat cos I wanted a hood by gum!

There are a number of playa-coat companies out there and I'd like to compliment Wild On The Inside for making such a beautiful product at one of the more reasonable prices. (A local Denver based company is easily the most overpriced.) Wild On The Inside also has pretty spiffy presentation (image below) so if I had the cash I would totally order from them.



But back to my poor-man's coat. Fortunately as my day job I'm an architect so working with lines is kinda what I do. Tonight I loaded a male collar jacket and female hooded jacket into Illustrator and compared the two side by side to see what makes each unique and how I could adapt my male pattern.

Here's a link to the male pattern (yetti) and female pattern (fuzzy bunny).



Most likely this week I'll print out the patterns at a blueprint shop and make a test shell out of cheap fabric just to see how it fits on my body and if the adapted hood even works.

May 4, 2011

And we have goggles!



The star looking thing is a total old lacy brooch I found at Goodwill and the green and gold beads are from a bracelet I found at epic vintage/costume shop and Denver institution Flossy McGrew's.

These are my only pair of clear lens ski goggles so if I go night skiing next season I'll just have to show up with my playa-bling goggles.

May 2, 2011

So apparently it gets cold on the playa at night

I'm thinking a coat is in order now. Not necessarily faux-fur but some sort of festive fabric. The easiest and free-est patterns I've found are from IlanioWear. Here's their basic full length coat design:



Now I'm not a big seamstress so I'm making a 1/3 size mock up shell first.



Oddly enough if I do proceed ahead with faux-fur it won't be my first time sewing with fur. I made a stuffed guinea pig in 7th grade home ec.

May 1, 2011

A question for experienced burners

It's my understanding that at night the playa can still be roasting, or can drop to near freezing.

As a Coloradan I plan on bringing my ski socks, under-layer thermals, and even a high performance jacket to help combat a worst case cold scenario.

Now on to the fashion question... I've ordered 20 LED blinking keychains (like the picture) that I would like to attach to a single article of clothing.

My question to you is, what sort of lit-up clothing item might I assume I could always wear out at night regardless of the weather?

I was originally thinking along the bottom of a knee-high skirt? I couldn't see myself wearing that out if we're going to have cold nights.

Apr 30, 2011

Outfits begin!

I think it's Halcyon that says not to call them "costumes" since in costume you're dressing as something other than yourself.

Burning Man outfits are meant to be anything-goes representations of yourself and your aesthetic... I just have some pretty tight budget and talent constraints to work around.

First stop, Craigslist for a $30 sewing machine. It has two modes, forward and back. But it's totally idiot proof, runs smooth, silent and powerful compared to a plastic piece of crap machine a friend loaned me first that went nowhere.



For most of the thrift store items I'm working with I'll be making modifications of their outward appearance. The sole exception is this skirt which already visually complex enough I don't want to add any more to it. It's one of my longer skirts, that's so I'll have one for sun protection.



It's two sizes too large and combined with my guy figure it totally doesn't want to stay up so I added a liner for a drawstring. I dunno where the zipper was supposed to go originally but I'm saying it's a fly now.

Yes I did a pee test and the new zipper-as-fly works just great thank you very much.



First clothing item done!

Apr 27, 2011

The dome gets some decoration

In the clutter of Black Rock's dense urban blocks my plan for not looking like trash is keeping the design simple. It appears fewer camps are illuminated at night so I needed a cheap way to light the dome in a festive way. Here's a mockup:



In an ideal world I would paint the wood and possibly canvass roof but it's looking like I may not be back at my folks' place (where the dome is kept) before our actual BM trip in August.

BTW the dome's current name is "The Homo Hut" and a lesbian graphic designer friend of mine is going to be designing a small sign for us, possibly in this fun "hut appropriate" font.

But back to the lamps... I needed something big, cheap, durable, and translucent to act as the lantern shade. That's where Ikea's $2 Fniss trash can comes in.



Here's how I plan to attach and illuminate them. The light sources are blinky LED bike lights I got for $2-3 dollars each from Deal Extreme.



I did some very technical* tests in a dark room to determine the optimal placement of the bike light within the trash can. It turned out gravity and the gods of LED illumination were in agreement on a simple solution.

*totally not technical

Apr 17, 2011

Spring break dome progress



Well my folks and I got some more practice setting up the dome frame, this time it was so I could begin creating the massive canvass cover that sits on top of it.

To be honest, the dome is far larger than I expected. Should definitely be enough room for my two friends and I.

The pink rope strung around the roof members (pictured above) are tensioned and prevent the canvass from sagging.

The roof cover will be hemmed at the blue line (pictured below) so there's an approx 12" valance to provide a little extra shade. But for the most part the sides will be open. The finished dome is going to be more of a cabana that only provides shade, for the most part the sides will be open.





Metal washers (serving as grommets) were glued to the canvass at points with double layered fabric for strength and will be bungee anchored to the dome frame. The above photo shows some of the grommets and fabric doubled up for reinforcing. Here's a close up of a grommet:



The roof canvass is old left-over drop cloths from when I painted my condo. Rather than sewing I'm using a flexible, waterproof marine adhesive sold at Home Depot.



I'm not a big knot-tying guy. I was in Webelos for a year and a half. I was never really sure how I was going to laterally tie down this beast of a dome but stumbled upon a ratcheting tie-town system designed for securing loads in the back of pickup trucks. Each tie down has a rated working load of 440lbs with a breaking strength of nearly a ton. There will be one of these at each of the dome's 5 corners, perhaps with an additional tie down on the prevailing wind side. Considering the roof is going to be tied on with bungee cords I think an extreme wind loading event the roof would be torn to shreds before the dome frame moves an inch.

The idea of this thing breaking free and taking off like a tumbleweed in a wind storm scares the shit out of me so that's why I'm over-engineering it.



Tie downs are anchored to some awesome 18" steel stakes I found online for cheap.



In the coming weeks I'll be starting some work on clothing. All I'll say now is that I appear to be a women's skirt size 6.

Mar 2, 2011

The group sits down

The crew (all 3 of us) have our admission tickets already.

Tonight we sat down and worked out our travel schedule and booked our flights to/from California.

I'm having another one of those "wow, this is one step closer to happening" moments.



Sat Aug 27th - fly from Denver to LA (where my folks live)
Sun Aug 28th - prep day at my folks house or sightseeing round LA
Mon Aug 29th - drive from LA to Reno, stay in a hotel that night
Tues Aug 30 - enter the festival, camp in Hushville

[4 fabulous nights of burning]

Sat Sept 3 - after the man burns drive to Reno to avoid the exodus and stay in a hotel
Sun Sept 4 - drive back to LA
Mon Sept 5 [Labor day] - fly home from LA to Denver
Tues Sept 6 - return to our roles as unassuming members of society

Feb 2, 2011

In the event of emergency

My experienced burner friend sent me this, half for the humor value, half to tease me, and half I think to remind me that I need to be mentally prepared to face the unexpected fiasco at Burning Man. (yes I know three halves adds up to 150%)



Incidentally it was this photo of a wind destroyed Xara that I emailed to my folks to explain why I was having 18" long solid steel tent stakes shipped to their house.

Tonight my main partner in crime and I got to talking about the circumstances under which we'd say "enough is enough" and pack up and leave; they mostly involve freakish acts of god. I'm bringing extra water/food, extra shoes in the event of mud, and even a few orange Home Depot buckets in case there's a porta potty crisis of some sorts.

Yes, I am mentally prepared to shit in a plastic bucket and then carry it away for disposal later.

Some people have visions of how they are going to die. As a group we have decided that a renegade art car possibly shaped like a whale/pirate-ship/platypus/vagina is going to plow into our shade dome.

In our imaginations it can't be just a run of the mill mediocre art car that takes out the dome, it has to be a spectacular one.

Hopefully we won't be IN the dome at the time of the crash but perhaps nearby as to see the destruction first hand and hopefully laugh after we're done being horrified.

Jan 3, 2011

It feels official



They arrived in the mail today. One's for me, the other is for my main partner in crime.

I've already purchased my bike, started work on my shade-dome but holding a ticket with the words "burning man" makes it feel so much more real.

It also makes me feel like I've lost my mind and gone and committed myself to quite a ordeal journey.

Dec 28, 2010

After a long quiet the dome rises



One of my main partners in crime recently ended a 5 year relationship so I was being a good friend and not talking about BM while he got his life back in order. Shortly before I left for Christmas vacation he brought up the subject on his own, indicating he's still good to go. That of course meant I could proceed with planned dome shade structure construction over the holidays. Here's my folks helping test that everything bolts together as planned. They're not going with me to BM but they're a great test crew since if they're able to build the dome then surely anyone with me on the playa will be able to handle the physical demands too.

It feels huge now but I realize that everything shrinks out on the playa. Still it will be perfect for our 3-4 people to lounge under.

Shortly after I took this photo I realized the roof section would be near impossible to put on with a mere step ladder so we disassembled it and re-built it starting first with the roof and building the walls up underneath it. Using 8' studs the peak of the dome will top out at 11'6".

Tomorrow my mum and I start the fabric roof cover.

Oct 15, 2010

And the friends now have their bikes

My dad drives back to LA from his first ever Denver road trip today. Since our family always flies between LA and Denver this was our only opportunity to send our burner bikes back to LA with him (where my friends and I will be launching out BM trip from). My dad's road-trip this week put my friends under somewhat of a deadline, having but a few weeks to get junker bikes to send back with my dad.

And you know what, both my friends pulled through and delivered their bikes to my dad's van this evening!

Granted a $40 Craigslist bike almost a year out isn't a huge a commitment but it shows they're taking things seriously.

Here's the bike DannoDaze got:

Oct 7, 2010

The one thing I can't do myself is done

I'm ok with a saw and drill but I can't weld so finding a way for my steel bike to interface with the PVC I wished to decorate it with required the services of a local student welder.



Originally I'd proposed brackets the PVC was simply bolted to (pictured above) but the welder suggested an alternate design -- using a metal pipe that matched the inner diameter of the PVC. Here's a photo of the finished metal work and in the second shot you can see how a test piece of PVC slips over it.





Yes that's a teeny tiny door behind my bike in the hallway, my building is 80 years old so it has lots of weird features like that.

Sep 30, 2010

The necessity of bikes

(click to enlarge)

In mid October my dad is coming to visit me here in Denver and on his drive back to LA I plan on sending my art bike back with him. That means my friends who may be going are also under a bit of a deadline to get their bikes in order in advance of the mid October shipping date since I really don't feel like tracking down Craigslist bikes for them during my limited visits home.

Step 1 is to first confirm with my friends they know what they're signing up for, I'll be screening Beyond Black Rock (easily the best BM documentary I've seen) for a couple of them Friday.


Then to impress the vast size of the event and thus need for a bike I've prepared some graphics to illustrate the huge size of the event. When all else fails just overlay over a map of central Denver. Two of our three residences appear on this map, a third is past the edge.

That should get some asses in gear.

Sep 28, 2010

The meme of the floating arrow

The advent of real-time location tracking in the digital age has created a new concept, or meme, which I'm going to call the floating arrow.



For the vast majority of Burning Man participants without RVs or generators it's a very analog week.

Does that mean you have to leave the floating arrow at home with all your gadgets?

What if that arrow could follow me around the playa in an effortless fashion?


It's meant to be instantly recognizable and hilarious in it's simplicity. I may call it the floating arrow but I'm curious what names other playa residents will assign to the concept.

And of course the arrow would be lit with el-wire at night for maximum fabulousness and to prevent my ass from getting run over by an art car.


Everything in white is PVC so the only tricky part is finding a welder to fabricate some brackets on to the back of my bike that I can bolt the PVC to.


Sep 26, 2010

Skylab

Bought this kinda outer-spacey fabric hat for a rave I went to this weekend called Skylab but yes, it'll be going to Burning Man.

Sep 21, 2010

Now on Twitter

Things that don't necessarily deserve an entire blog post often end up as tweets. Just follow along or strike up a conversation. @VirginBurnerCO

Sep 20, 2010

Because Burning Man scares me

You've been put through a physical wringer, and emotionally just had highs and lows all week, and it's been a tremendous challenge to everything that you're made of.
-From Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock
Both documentary art film Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock and Confessions of a Burning Man address the question am I right for Burning Man?

One interview subject argues, if you're not 100% sure and have to ask the question then you probably can't afford it then no it's not right for you.

I wasn't totally sure BM was for me. At first the idea of going both terrified and excited me; maybe that's why I couldn't get it out of my head.

Then I realized my feelings about going largely paralleled my reasons for choosing India as my study abroad program. My first days in India were hellish and scary, even the most mundane task like going to the bathroom was fraught with strangeness and unpredictability. The most amazingly beautiful things could happen at any moment; you could be taking a cab ride through the city and find yourself in traffic stuck behind an elephant as if that sort of thing happened all the time and wasn't a big deal after all.


'

And that's when I stopped fighting it and gave in. In the end India was an experience that permanently altered who I am as a person and will continue to influence me for the rest of my life.

I know things are going to be nothing like home, that I'm going to have strange interactions and that wondrous things will happen around me without apparent explanation or reason.

I admit all that scares me a bit but I'm going precisely because Burning Man scares me a little bit, not in spite of it.

Sep 17, 2010

Of chickens and parachutes



In the last post I'd explained my reasoning behind going with a 1V geodesic dome but didn't elaborate on how I'd be constructing it. There are many options including PVC pipe, steel electrical conduit and lastly wood. Since I'm on a budget and only have a radial saw and drill to work with I determined Stromberg's starplate system would be my best option. As an architect I'm familiar with Simpson strong ties which makes a 6 pointed connector but that product is both more expensive and harder to re-use than the Stromberg system.

A copy of Stromberg's catalog arrived with my starplate order and it's hilarious, I'm not really used to seeing living animals organized and sold like commodities.



Then I noticed I could have a dozen live geese shipped to my parents door. Oh that would be hilarious.

My dad has a thing with geese, whenever we're on vacation and visit a park or what not and there's geese around, they always make a b-line straight for him (and not in a happy welcoming way either). It's become somewhat of a running joke in the family.

In other news my 24' diameter T-10 surplus parachute arrived this week. I haven't taken it out of the box yet since I live in a tiny urban condo and haven't found a place where I can safely unfurl it yet. A friend of mine is dating a member of the Colorado Air National Guard who is serving as my parachute consultant and suggested unfurling/inspecting it indoors. When I get my hands on a space large enough I'll make sure and post photos.

Sep 13, 2010

How I arrived at just another 1v dome



For the last week part of my floor has been taken up by a small village of potential shade structure designs made from superglue and bamboo kebab sticks. What have I learned in this time? The easiest way to enclose a large area with as few members as possible is a 1V geodesic dome. When you're working out of your parents garage during holiday visits and all you have is a radial saw and a drill it's hard to beat the simplicity, strength and economy of the 1v dome.

There are a few design types you won't see here:
  • Hexayurts - This is meant to be a shade structure for social use during the day, not a cave to be crawled into for sleep only. However I suspect I may be absolutely fucking miserable this year in my tent and make a hexayurt for sleeping in next year. I'm spending enough money on the dome for this year.
  • Braced frames - Designating members to provide either vertical or lateral support is wasteful and boring, plus walking around cross-members is annoying.
  • Quonset or monkey huts - Yeah those look like fucking trash and are totally devoid of any style whatsoever. Go ahead and leave me angry comments quonset people. Not to mention there's just something unnatural about bending PVC in a high UV environment and still relying on it for sole structural support.



This torqued cube is perhaps one of the few designs that used fewer members than the 1v dome. It's only downsides are a low width to height ratio (meaning if you want to shade a large floor area with uniform length members it gets very tall very fast) and a roof shape that does not shed water.




It's a split/deconstructed 1v dome! I really like the ying-yang shaped arrangement of the two dome halves to each other and the large welcoming openings created on each side. Refer to the high-tech finger test pictured above for it's prime weakness. Yes folks, the amazing finger test is something taught to architecture majors at Cal Poly SLO, tho in regards to structural engineering knowledge I don't think some of my peers managed to retain even that.



The design on the right and it's variant on the left were inspire by Zaha Hadid's Serpentine Pavilion pictured here:



I replaced the mushroom shapes with three inherently stable tetrahedrons. Unfortunately a sizable structure yielded a small amount of usable floor area compared to other designs. The unique thing about this design is all three tetrahedrons could be joined to themselves and the ground with simple pin connections. However in the event of wind, extremely high uplift would occur at the foundation points which exceeds my comfort level in playa foundation design and construction. Possibly even less efficient in terms of usable floor area yield is the variant (left) utilizing three different sizes of tetrahedron. The three sizes create a sense of whimsy, motion and complimentary balance in the variant whereas the primary design is rigid and stoic. In a purely decorative move the smallest tetrahedron is mirrored atop itself creating a tower of sort from which a lantern could be hung -- easily the most elegant and bold design.

So yeah, it looks like I'm going to be just another one of those people with a 1v dome. Don't ask me how mine is going to be different, I've still got 49 weeks to figure that out.

And besides, who ever said 1V domes can't be romantic?