Wow! What an adventure. The Tinkle Drum made it to Burning Man!
Despite a plethora of obstacles along the way, the journey was equal parts fun, challenging, and exhausting. We couldn’t have done it without the dedicated team of Kiwis and Dutchies who gave it their all to bring this project to life.
The Reno Generator Community Makerspace is a place to curate creativity and turn dreams into reality. A few of us basically lived there for the build. There were a number of Art projects and mutant vehicles being built alongside us with awesome teams that we got to know well.
Compared to the single drum prototype build in Amsterdam, there were many efficiencies in building three identical drums, although there were also many unanticipated challenges. Examples include: sourcing quality materials locally in the US (shout out to logistics and supply master extraordinaire Andy Justice), consistent tensioning of the bolts holding the drums together so that the drum flanges were splaying in or out, and the interdependent nature of so many of the construction steps. This meant the team was undertaking problem solving on the fly at every step, leaving our brains hurting by the end of each day.
Highlights of the build included charring the outside of the drum using a technique called shou sugi ban to seal and protect the timber (shout-out to Jasmin our Mistress of Fire), completing the punching, drilling, and deburring of over 3000 holes in the copper pipe (a monstrous effort by Lourens, Ataif, Josh and Yarin). However, all of that labour became worth it upon hearing that first tinkle. Simply working at the Generator was a highlight in itself. The place was full of inspiring people, cool equipment, and epic art pieces.
Assembly on Playa
With so many moving parts, assembly was always going to be time consuming. But Black Rock Desert threw in numerous whiteouts and 40 degree temperatures so that the build hit a new level of challenge. Imagine trying to tighten a 4mm nut, lying under the drum in a whiteout with winds swirling!
We had to be extra cautious, as any bit of debris or dropped nut could end up as MOOP. Many other art pieces were late and still building into the event, but the Tinkle-Teamtm worked incredibly hard to get the drum up and rolling the night before opening day.
We celebrated this milestone in style on Saturday with a cheeky champers and some team rolls in the drum.
And then Burning Man…
What made the Tinkle Drum special was the interactivity of the Art piece. Most of the Art is stationary, so a moving Art piece was incredibly popular with adults and children alike. People from across Black Rock City would come together there to make music.
Because the drum itself weighs more than a tonne (yes, really!), it’s extremely hard to get moving by yourself, so people would call over others riding past to jump in and help power the music, whilst making new friends.
This collaborative mechanism was the magic that makes the Tinkle Drum special.
Positioned less than 300 metres from The Man, its popularity resulted in some mechanical failures and repair works along the way before we eventually had to retire the drum from its rollers on the second to last day. Although this felt gutting, we were comforted knowing how many people had been able to share in her magic and create music together.
Where to from here?
After Burning Man, the piece was exhibited at the Reno Tahoe International Art Fair. We are in talks with a council in the US about a permanent home for the Tinkle Drum.
You never know, there might be a Tinkle Drum at Kiwiburn in years to come…
Blog by Cassandra Kenworthy
All images credited to the Tinkle Team.
Huge thanks to our supporters and build crew:
Lourens van Veelen