Posts Tagged ‘balsa man’

BRD Balsa Regional Reports Success & Fun!

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Written by Kristen Ankiewicz, Balsa Man Regional Lead and Czarina of Tiny Art.

Balsa Man Regional was, by all accounts, a fabulous little event. At 5pm, in front of Ardent Heavy Industries (3:50 and Adapt), a crowd grew around the collection of tiny art that had yet to be unpacked. Earlier that day one of the Giant Man KCrew delivered an actual Toe of the Man. Rumor has it that “The Toe” is a leftover piece of lumber from That Other Man.

Tiny Star Tree (photo by Kristen Ankiewicz)

Tiny Star Tree (photo by Kristen Ankiewicz)

The population clearly wanted to be involved, and several volunteers quickly began building the L’il Trash Fence. We assembled The Toe with the L’il Balsa Man Head, not too far from the L’il Temple. We joked about having the man “from head to toe”. Silliness abounded. Cali brought her Tiny Star Tree, which added considerable class and swank to the event. The Tiny Star Tree was an art piece with many adventures in its future, since it was the only piece to attend both the Regional and the actual Balsa Man event.

After a tiny portion of an hour, we began the arduous task of digging mini-trenches for the Tiny 2piR. However, our spoons wouldn’t make a dent in the playa, so we decided to leave the fire effects above ground. That worked fine for everyone, because mere moments later a couple of tiny drunken slugs and a l’il raver penguin were on the platform. We’re not sure where the tiny bottle of Jose Cuervo came from but it turns out everyone dances better when drunk.

BRD Balsa Regional Participants (photo by Kristen Ankiewicz)

BRD Balsa Regional Participants (photo by Kristen Ankiewicz)

The beauty of the Regional was the high level of participation from attendees. People started rearranging the tiny attendees (mostly slugs, penguins, and frogs). Smuckles von Smee and several of his slug friends were enjoying the event from the ground level.  A couple of Regional rangers kept order around the perimeter. Many photographers were taking photos with macro lenses. I doubled as media volunteer, and gave attendees carte blanche to document the heck out of the Regional. Of course we reminded everyone that in keeping with the spirit of the main event, BALSA MAN REGIONAL RETAINS ALL RIGHTS TO ALL THUMBNAILS OF ANY PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO, OR FILM THAT IS TAKEN AT THE EVENT. Several people with bullhorns helped narrate for those who weren’t as close to the front lines.

About half an hour into the event, it could only be described as wonderful, beautiful chaos. The Garden of Tiny Delights evolved (as it should) beyond my initial designs. The attendees of the Regional moved the little frogs and penguins out to the trash fence; the zombie penguin was poised to attack the Temple; the Obelisk was placed out by L’il Mural. The S&M penguins embodied radical self-expression, and were causing quite a stir with their public flogging—scandalous! Tiny parachuters landed onto the playa, dust storms started kicking up thanks to Rubin’s can of compressed air, and people started clamoring to burn things. Alas, one of the little parachuters landed funny, but after some quick thinking by Eddie (a Regional burner), a tiny helicopter came to medi-vac the injured little parachuter guy out of there.

Balsa Man Regional - Head to Toe (photo by Neil Girling)

Balsa Man Regional - Head to Toe (photo by Neil Girling)

At 5:45 the event culminated with the burning of the L’il Man + Toe. Although he’s made of balsa and kitchen matches, we decided to douse him in fuel just to make sure he’d really burn. All it took was a carefully aimed magnifying glass to set the thing ablaze. For a few minutes it was calm enough for one of the attendees to toast a marshmallow. Pretty soon a raucous group of people started chanting and dancing in a circle around the L’il Man, and one or two people even jumped over him.

Finally, at nearly 6, we burned the L’il Temple. The crowd grew solemn, with various people hushing and shushing and yelling DOWN IN FRONT. I believe a few tears were shed. We doused the structure in fuel, and used Edrabbit‘s flame effect/flame thrower to light it on fire. Laughter erupted as the flaming ball of temple flew ten feet off the platform onto the playa. I doubled as DPW and cleaned up all the ashes.

Lots of people exchanged hugs and vowed to come back next year, with more art, and more ideas. Perhaps we’ll recruit a pyrotechnics expert to strap down the burning items.

The Balsa Man is built!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

After one solid weekend of work and another late weeknight, the Balsa Man has been built! There are a number of improvements to the man this year. Most noticeably, the ribs and the circles on the arms and legs which are much more regular and smooth thanks the new scroll saw which was a recent addition to the Balsa Man workshop. Also new this year in the workshop are the saw horses which were built by SFSlim. There are also several little touches that we were able to accomplish due to the increased size of the Balsa Man KCrew.

And lastly there is the beautiful heart that was created by SparkleBottom and signed by every member of the Balsa Man KCrew.

We photo documented the build and have a Flickr Balsa Build 2009 photo set.

I’ve also created a new Balsa Man 2009 group pool which I invite all Balsa Man artists to contribute their build photos to. This pool can also be used to for pictures taken during the event itself.

Balsa Man Comes to the Black Rock Desert!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Far from the cool, sandy shores of San Francisco, the Black Rock Desert in Nevada is called home by many artistically inspired individuals. While this alkali desert is far away, ideas have a power to reach farther and faster than any Cruise America RV could ever hope.

And it is this small idea—the tiny yet wonderous idea of Balsa Man—which has flown across state lines, through Donner Pass, past the garish lights of the Peppermill Casino and taken root in the mind of at least one dust-covered creative soul.

We are pround to announce the first…

Black Rock Desert,
Balsa Man Regional

Host: Ardent Heavy Industries
(at 4:00 and Adapt)
Date: Friday, September 4th
(Labor Day Weekend)

Time: 5 to 6 pm

Join your fellow lovers of all things tiny at the Black Rock Desert!

Are you driving all the way up to the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert, with nothing to do? Do you have a tiny art piece that would be perfect at Balsa Man but can’t make it all the way to the main event in San Francisco? Then head over to the official Black Rock Desert Balsa Man Regional!

Tiny Artists and other participants are welcome, email for more details.

Kristen Ankiewicz, Balsa Regional Lead & Czarina of Tiny Art

Your fearless Black Rock Desert Regional Lead for the Balsa Man Tiny Art Festival. Kristen Ankiewicz will be taking the helm as Balsa Man Regional Lead and Czarina of Tiny Art.

It seems that tiny art leads to big titles. This is all of course in addition to being in her own right artist extraordinaire and mastermind behind the cute and tiny monstrosities all for show at her site You can find her at Camp Ardent Heavy Industries (4:00 and Adapt) for other questions.

I, your humble guest Balsa Blogger will be another Balsa Man Tiny Art Festival — Black Rock Desert Regional Contact. (see what we mean about long titles?) I will be camping with Rathskellar, placement as yet to be determined.

If you will be missing out on the Balsa Burn on Saturday, September 5th in San Francisco, because you’ll be up at that other playa then come on over to Ardent and party with us on Friday.

And please, apply for a tiny art grant to bring some tiny art to the first Black Rock Desert, Balsa Man Regional

Facebook event page

Balsa Man Regional call for artists!

The Balsa Man Black Rock Desert Regional does not yet have a central figure! Kristen is looking for artists who would like to build the BRD Balsa Regional’s “Balsa Man” effigy. The central figure does not have to mimic the original “Balsa Man” but it should be inspiring. If you would like to build the BRD Balsa Regional’s central figure please contact

A small gift from the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things!

Friday, August 7th, 2009
World's smallest version of Babe, the Blue Ox

World's smallest version of Babe, the Blue Ox, photo © Erika Nelson

If you’re looking for a tiny replica of the World’s Largest Can of Spinach, Carhenge, or Babe the Blue Ox, look no further than The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things (WLCoWSVoWLT).

The WLCoWSVoWLT is more than just a collection, it’s a sideshow-painted Ford Econoline van-turned-traveling-museum full of miniature versions of roadside America attractions.

Erika Nelson, artist and director of WLCoWSVoWLT, is the mastermind behind this magical mobile menagerie of roaming replicas. She often tours the country, seeking out and documenting the oversized kitschy Americana that we can all be proud of. Erika speaks at art schools, universities, art commissions, and is a consultant for cities and Chamber of Commerce who are looking to improve their local skyline with a gigantic fiberglass (or steel, or wood, or whatever) thing.

Think big by thinking tiny

Although she encourages people to think big, Erika knows how to think tiny. Not only does Erika understand the concept of Balsa Man, she loves it. Unfortunately, Erika and her collection will be unable to attend the event; however, she has offered to send on-loan THE WORLD’S SMALLEST VERSION of The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things! (seen below).

This marks Balsa Man’s first official tiny art car! Of course, this on-loan miniature van will have to register with the Department of Minute Vehicles.

Erika and the World's Smallest Version of WLCoWSVoWLT

Erika and the World's Smallest Version of WLCoWSVoWLT, photo © Erika Nelson

Along with this minute museum Ericka has offered a donation to the Black Pebble Arts Foundation in the form of a crisp $2 bill!

Thanks Erika!

PS: She also teaches kids how to sculpt things out of SPAM. She is our people.


WLCoWSVoWLT is Balsa Man’s first interstate piece of art and the BPAF recognizes the daunting task of shipping art across the country. Thus, we are proud to award Erika Nelson tiny transportation & shipping art grant of to cover all postage to and from the event!

Erika’s grant proposal was excellent as it contained an actual size version of the World’s Smallest Version of the WLCoWSVoWLT.

Balsa Man 2009 Map is Here!

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

NOTE: Tiny Art Placement is not finalized and is shown for example only. Due to space limitations, all Balsa Man theme camp placement requests have been rejected. Participants standing towards the back must be careful of the ocean as there is no life guard on duty and the water is cold (see Balsa Man Survival Guide)

Balsa Man 2009 Map

Balsa Man takes place in San Francisco; for event location information please contact

Balsa Man Survival Guide

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Participants Arrive at Balsa Man 2008 by ebisue

Arrival Information

We encourage all to arrive by 6pm on Sept 5th to view the tiny art and mingle with the other Balsa Man Participants—don’t be late because Balsa Man is as short as it is tiny.

Early arrival time for Balsa Man volunteers and Tiny Artists is 5:15pm. Participants may actually arrive as early as they want; however, Basla Man DPW has the right to ridicule those who arrive way too early for their own good. It should be noted that there is no camping.

There are no tickets to Balsa Man; however, you are welcome to create your own Balsa Man tickets.

Your car will not be searched at the gate, nor your person—in fact there isn’t really even a gate. However, we encourage Balsa Man Greeters. Also, we need volunteers to create this year’s Balsa Burma Shave signs.

For event location information please contact

Departure Decorum

Our location closes 1 hour after sunset (7:33p); as a result, Balsa Man ends at 8:33pm. Please be prepared to clean up and leave shortly after the Balsa Man event is over.

Balsa Man is a Leave No Trace event. Please pack your trash out and do your part by helping the artists and organizers clean up after the event is over.

Drive safe! If you choose to drink at Balsa Man make sure to plan for a designated driver ahead of time. Also, do not twitter and drive! If you must tweet about how much you enjoyed Balsa Man, tweet before you begin driving.

Beach Survival

Balsa Man participants should bring all necessities they need to survive a few hours on the beach. Balsa Man guidelines for beach survival are:

  • It can get a mite chilly so bring a jacket and maybe gloves and a hat.
  • Once the sun sets, it’ll get dark so bring a flashlight.
  • You might want to bring a drink or a snack.
  • There is no lifeguard on duty.

And lastly…


We hope to see you at Balsa Man 2009!