I blow up things for a living!
Seriously. Boom. Art!
I've been asked too many times, "What's it like, blowing up art?". So, as a starting point, here are the seven things you need to know about explosions.
1. Have a plan! Anyone can throw some gunpowder on things and blow them up. But, you need a plan. And you need some gunpowder and fuses. Otherwise you might as well just light fireworks. Boom! Think of it like planning a date. Imagine how you want it to be. The end result. What sort of process might get you there. Then detonate it. it might fail. But you have gotten this far.
Ask her out again.
2. Read the box! Some fuses burn faster than others. On very first piece I exploded, THE ORIGINAL STICK, the fuse burned way faster than expected. The piece blew up before we were ready. Debris flew all over my guests. Dangerous? Yes.
And we blew the photo op. Literally.
3. Explosions are hot! Duhhhhh. The blast release of energy resulting from a rapid chemical reaction that produces a shock wave, noise, heat, and light. So if you want to keep your hair, stand back a bit. And let your art cool after the blast. So to sum up, we have a shock wave, noise, heat, and light! Sometimes there is fireball!
Boom. Let's do it again.
4. Burning art is smoky business! Burning and smoldering art gives off white, gray and black smoke. I try to get pictures of it. Often it looks pretty cool. The Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya does sweet looking fog sculptures. So, in my own way I am doing smoke sculpture. That said, you cannot do this indoors unless you have a large space that is very well ventilated. Trust me, I've tried. The studio filled with smoke. The fire alarms went off. I've tried the garage too, but after coughing for 30 minutes, I stick to the outdoors.
5. Gunpowder art is odoriferous! It smells. See, one of the compounds of gunpowder is sulfur. When you burn it, it smells like rotten eggs. It as an essential element of life. That is why Chinese alchemists used it to invent gunpowder. They were seeking immortality. It still stinks! Paraphrasing Robert Duvall, "I love the smell of gunpowder in the morning".
6. Grit is good! After the explosion and burn down your are left with a mess. Debris. Charred fuse stems. Ashes. I use a vacuum (a Hoover) and several small brushes and a scraper to clean it up. Sometimes this is very delicate work. Other times it is a hard core process.
7. Kaboom! Water! One by-product of explosions is water. The sudden burst of energy hooks up the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It's is not much water, but my art can feel a little damp after the explosion. This is also why I support clean water drinking initiatives around the world. I donate 5% of the sale of every art piece I sell to charity: water. Clean water means health, income and education - especially for women and kids.
I hope you now know all you need to know about explosions. Please enjoy my art and explosive transparency regarding my process.