Posts Tagged ‘Black Rock Desert’

Black Rock Balsa Regional Report 2010

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Better late than never I guess… We just got this writeup in about last year’s Balsa Regional in the Black Rock Desert. And here I thought Balsars were procrastinators, but these desert campers are even worse.

As the date for the 2011 Balsa Man slowly approaches, I realize I am overdue to turn in my report from the 2010 Balsa Man Regional Burn. Apologies for my tardiness. I had a marginally rough return to what I am now calling the “Deficient World”, and I allowed minor commitments get in the way of a proper Balsa breakdown. This year’s Balsa Man Regional Burn was held on a dry lakebed in rural Nevada. It was attended by several dozen Tiny Art enthusiasts and builders, as well as a few passersby from a nearby arts & crafts festival.

BalsaMan: Black Rock almost didn’t happen at all.

Balsa Man Regional 2010 (photo by Audrey Penven)

Some crazed firebrand snuck up on proceedings just as a small crowd was starting to gather, and set the initial Balsa Man sculpture on fire. 2010 was the year our (regional) Balsa Man burned early!


Black Rock Balsa Regional 2010, Sept 3rd

Friday, July 30th, 2010
Steve Courtney, Black Rock Balsa Man Regional Lead

Steve Courtney, Regional Lead for Black Rock Balsa Man

We are proud to announce that Steve Courtney has stepped up as this year’s Black Rock Regional Lead! Steve and his desert pals have a small camp they call the Fandango Village where they have generously offered to host the Black Rock Balsa Man Regional:

“As a second-year participant in the Black Rock Balsa Man regional, I have a little bit of experience, and a smidgen of enthusiasm that I intend to bring to the event. Please stop by the Fandango Village bar to help in Tiny Art-Building Happy Hours, from 5-8pm on Wednesday and Thursday before the regional burn. 3:30 and Esplanade.”

While I personally know nothing of this desert many seem so fond of, I imagine Fandango Village bar is a nice cozy camp with a small shade structure and a couple camp chairs—I mean really what more do you need?

Black Rock Balsa Man RegionalBlack Rock Balsa Man Regional

Friday Sept. 3rd
5pm-6pm be on time as basla burns fast!
Fandango Village, 3:30 & Esplanade
facebook event page

Make Tiny Art in the Desert!

Fandango is inviting tiny artists to join them at the Fandango Village bar for Tiny Art Build Happy Hour on Wednesday, Sept 1st and Thursday the 2nd, from 5-8pm. Facebook event for the Tiny Art Build Happy Hour

We also encourage people to come to any of the upcoming bay area Tiny Art Build Parties and make tiny art before they leave for the desert.

Everyone here at Balsa Man HQ are truly thrilled that Steve Courtney and his small coterie of camping pals have stepped up offer a modicum of fun to those camping in the Black Rock Desert. last year’s Black Rock Balsa Regional seemed like it was a itty bitty blast! We hope that this diminutive event inspires these desert campers to get up off of their camp chairs and one day make their own event—maybe even something bigger than Balsa Man!

Now Hiring: Black Rock Regional Lead

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Marshmallow roast, photo by artmonstergirlThis year’s Balsa Man is all about focusing on the community that is forged around tiny art. In so doing, we are pushing hard to promote the Balsa Regionals (like the Paul Balsa Bunyan Man in MN) that have begun to sprung up in other areas of the country. Last year, literally dozens of desert campers were thrilled by the Black Rock Desert Balsa Regional. This NV regional was lead by the talented Kristen Ankiewicz who expressed how overjoyed the participants were to have something to do for the hour or so that it lasted, in the otherwise empty and dull Black Rock Desert.

This year Kristen is stepping down as regional lead and we are looking to for some fabulous person to lead this year’s Black Rock Balsa Regional!

Balsa Regional Lead Responsibilities

  • Build the central Balsa sculpture for the regional (does not have to be anything like the Balsa Man; last year’s was a large Balsa Head made out of matches.)
  • Encourage other desert campers to make their own Tiny Art and participant  at the event.
  • Optionally host a tiny art build party for tiny artists making tiny art for the regional.
  • Secure an area for the regional and manage tiny art placement prior to the burn.
  • Run the Balsa Burn itself—remember it’s a tiny burn so it shouldn’t last more than an hour or so.

Balsa Regional Lead Perks

  • A tiny art grant from BPAF to be used for materials expenses for building the central figure of the Balsa Regional.
  • A Balsa Man 2010 patch to wear with pride.
  • A pack of Balsa Man stickers to give to volunteers and participants who create tiny art for the Balsa Regional.
  • Tiny sense of satisfaction

Starting Your Own Balsa Regional

Of course, Balsa Man Org. encourages tiny art enthusiasts to start their own Balsa Regional no matter where they live! If you are interested in leading a regional in another part of the country or the world we’d love to hear from you! Please contact our regional organizer at

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.

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