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First-time Fluxer

FLG's Serpent Mother at Burningman 2006

As an off-and-on Black Rock City resident and big fan of The Crucible since 2003, I have seen a fair bit of “big art” – usually gigantic metal sculptures + fire, lights, and other awesomeness. I had heard of “The Flaming Lotus Girls” (how could you not?) and longingly marveled at the idea of women designing and building these pieces. I never really tried to find a project though. Truth be told I didn’t feel cool enough, and I didn’t know anyone who was involved with anything.

Last summer, I came to be friends with Catie Magee, who along with Jess Hobbs, Rebecca Anders, PK, and nearly 150 amazing people built the Temple of Flux for Burning Man 2010. Out of the temple was born the nonprofit, the Flux Foundation “Building art through community. Building community through art.” Despite my feeling like a wannabe/suzie-joiner, I started telling Catie that I really wanted to be a part of a project; she assured me there would be plenty to do very soon.

April 16 was my first official “shop day.” I went over to American Steel with Catie and another brand-spankin-newby, Arin. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, but it was also a machine shop – loud, very loud,

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and dirty. Now I’m not exactly a girlie-girl. I own 2 drills, carry a leatherman in my purse, and have been known to work on my car. But I’ve never done anything with metal – the tools seemed so much more, well, dangerous.

Jen and Arin Grinding

The order of the day was to build a prototype of a metal umbrella. It was decided that some grinding needed to be done on the 6 metal panels, and Rebecca, who seemed to be one of the gals in charge, took Arin and I

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aside and showed us how to safely set up for and use a grinder. Before long, sparks were flying in all directions as I worked on one side of the table and Arin the other.

Soon, we had proudly finished our work. They were to be bent onto a frame, creating the umbrella. Some of the pieces weren’t exactly the right size, however, so

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our we put cut wheels on our grinders. “Now things can get a little dangerous,” Rebecca said. We dutifully cut off extra strips as marked, and both exclaimed, “we’re cutting metal!”

The sheets now fit properly, and another spunky little lady named Cheryl got busy tack-welding them onto the umbrella frame.

And there it was, right before our eyes – this large metal umbrella that we, two 100% metal-shop newbies had a hand in building. It felt amazing – helping to create something that wasn’t there before, something that we had to figure out as we went along.I was hooked. I was coming back – often.


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