I’ve been making wooden pendants as gifts almost every year I’ve been to Burning Man- first with our longtime Transit Lounge camp, and then most recently for Cacao Camp. It’s a ton of work, but well worth it because many people enjoy a more natural, handmade gift. So many of the gifts on the playa are mass produced, and I really like to see things that are made by the person giving them out.
Ever since being included in Karen Christian and LadyBee’s book “Jewelry of Burning Man“, they’ve been showing their pieces around at different galleries, and some of mine are included! Newer updates are on their facebook page
Cacao Pod for Cacao camp. This is the first time in a while I didn’t try to do a tie-in to the theme “Caravansary” for the year. The cacao pod is cherry and the man is made out of maple. I made fewer by myself this year, maybe around 200?
I just moved into our new house this year, so didn’t have time to make necklaces. I ended up rounding up any leftovers from previous years and giving them out as gifts.
The theme this year was “Evolution”, and the idea here was that the Man was rising up from the primordial goo. There are many different woods in the background that are all glued together first before inlaying the walnut man into the necklace.
“The Green Man” theme was a good theme, and easy to create something that would tie in well. The background is bamboo, with the grain facing horizontally on the bottom, and the man is made out of green-dyed particle board.
“Hope or Fear: The Future” theme… decided to do a simple design, but make two different ones: one out of dark woods (walnut and cherry) representing “Fear”, and one out of light wood (maple and cherry) representing “Hope”. Then, we would hand them out by asking people, “hope or fear”? and give them the one they responded with. Almost everyone responded with “Hope”… there were only 2 or 3 people that I encountered the whole week that said “Fear”.
“Psyche: Conscious, Subconsciousness, Unconsciousness” was the theme this year. It was probably the most time-consuming design I’ve done, since three independent man logos needed to be glued together in the end to form the final pendant. The woods for the man get progressively lighter and the heads “disappear” to represent the different states of consciousness.
“Vault of Heaven” was the theme this year, and it was my most ambitious design. Especially difficult was making and inlaying the very small “stars” made out of maple. I had to do it by hand with a plane because the table saw cuts I was doing on test pieces were never a consistent size. Background is walnut, and the man is made out of maple, with a cherry playa/ground.
Inspired by the first year, I tried to make the design more interesting, and only had one wood arrangement: Maple with a purpleheart man, and a surrounding band of cherry. There wasn’t any specific tie-in to the theme.
First design in multiple woods. I think we made about 100 necklaces to gift. I learned a lot about gifting this year. I had a hard time giving out these necklaces because I didn’t want to interact with people that much… To the point where, at the end of the week, I was giving a few people a batch of 10 necklaces and saying, “give these to your camp mates”. Oh, how things have changed.
The idea for these came to me after seeing the fido-clay pendants that Alien Monkey Love Nest used to give out. They were the best gifts that I saw on the playa, and everyone wanted to get one. I went to their camp thinking that I would trade someone for one of my wooden pendants, but the person I talked to would only trade for “really cool metal things”. They had a talent show where if you performed, you could get one of their pendants, but it counteracted the whole idea of a gift, and felt wrong. I decided that next year, I’d make enough pendants to give out to whomever I ran into.