Tuesday, June 11, 2024

2024 06 Board To Be Wild with Michael deMeng at Shake Rag Alley

This is the month of Michael deMeng's annual visit to Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. This year's workshop is Board To Be Wild. Here is the class description: "Ah, the nostalgia of childhood board games! The anticipation of the roll, the quirky pieces, and those vibrant, intricate boards. Admittedly, in my early years, rules were more of a suggestion . . . who expects an 8-year-old to appreciate Monopoly without a dash of imagination? To be honest, Clue still puzzles me to this day. Now, Operation, that’s a game with no need for instructions—just lights, buzzes, and plastic bones! But I digress. In this workshop, unleash your inner child to craft the board game you always yearned for. From crafting pieces to intricate boards with an array of materials, the stranger, the better. Tweak an existing game or start from scratch with found objects, let your creativity run wild! Interested? It’s your move."

This year's trip began with me picking up Michael at O'Hare Airport in Chicago at 6:30 a.m. We had breakfast at Neli's Diner in Beloit, WI, and got to Shake Rag Alley at 10:30 a.m. As we are guys, we had both of our respective areas set up by 11:30 a.m. No fussing around here.

Michael needed to nap and I needed to go home to pick up the three things I needed to have a great workshop week. Back in Mineral Point by 4:30 p.m., Michael and I went to dinner and then called it an early evening.

On Wednesday, we headed to Madison to pick up our good art buddy Marilyn Werst who flew in from Louisville, KY, this morning. After getting Marilyn to Mineral Point, we were joined by Lynn Ovenden for dinner on the night before class.

Michael deMeng

Here is the class sample: Escape From Baba Yaga, a dice game for up to six players created by Michael. We eventually did play this game on Saturday night and I found it a blast of conflict with the monsters, conflict with my fellow travelers and finally--a victory by Kelley Clarke.

Class ran from Thursday to Sunday. As always, the highlight of the class was the Sunday critique led by Michael. 








My game for this weekend was as follows:

Created by Gary Warren Niebuhr

OBJECT: To create an assemblage from found objects by the random drawing of a playing card

One deck of standard playing cards
A substrate or found object of your choice
A variety of found objects
A variety of found paper including images or text
Paints (minimum colors: white, black, red, blue, green)
Screws, Bolts and Nails
Hand Tools
Power Tools
Aves Epoxy Clay (or similar clay)
E600 (or similar glue)
Gorilla Glue (or similar glue)
Wood Glue

Jokers: Players Choice
Aces: Chance To Choose Any Of The Fates
Kings: Add Color Red Found Object Or Paint (any secondary or tertiary color allowed)
Queens: Add Color Blue Found Object Or Paint (any secondary or tertiary color allowed)
Jacks: Add Color Yellow Found Object Or Paint (any secondary or tertiary color allowed)
Tens: Add Any Found Object With Screws, Bolts Or Nails
Nines: Add Any Found Object With Glue Or Clay
Eights: Add A Geometric Found Object (Round, Square, Triangle, Etc)
Sevens: Add Layers Of Two Or More Found Objects Or Papers
Sixes: Add a Value, a Shade or a Tint
Fives: Use A Power Tool
Fours: Add An Image Or Text
Threes: Add Three Details (Found Objects Or Paint)
Twos: Repeat The Previous Fate

Step One: Players Choice
Choose a substrate or a found object as the base
Step Two: Shuffle the deck of cards and cut the deck
Follow The Fate selected as your assemblage
Step Three and Beyond: Repeat shuffle, cut and assemble
Final Step: The artists declares Players Choice
Chance To Choose Any Of The Fates (if necessary)
In order not to go completely crazy playing my own game, I decided to bring robot making stuff to Mineral Point.


If you read the rules you know the first step in the game is a Player's Choice (Joker): choose a substrate or a found object as the base. 

Then it was time to shuffle the deck and cut for a card. I drew a 2 which is a "repeat" card, or essentially an Ace (Player's Choice). I decided to paper mache the ironing board with pattern paper.

Next I drew another 2. Because that is a repeat card I decided to paper mache the ironing board with some telephone book pages. 

Weirdly, I drew another 2. More paper went onto the ironing board, in this case a hunk of my overflow paint journal I keep at my elbow when I am painting anything. 

Next up, a ten which is attach a found object with screws, bolts or nails. This allowed me to grab this figure, sold to me as the inside of a Howdy Doodie mannequin. It got screwed onto the ironing board. (Here is how the game veered wildly off from how I have trained myself as an assemblage artist--I would never screw the object down without knowing how it was going to be resolved.)

A 9 card meant a could add a found object with glue or clay so on went the robot's head with some E6000.

The next card, a 4, meant I put the image of a fuse onto the earlier attached painted collage (no picture).

A Jack allowed me to get out paint for the first time as this card calls for the yellow family. I used Aureolin Hue.

A 7 was "Add Layers Of Two Or More Found Objects Or Papers" so on went some robot-y parts.

An Ace (Player's Choice) allowed me to choose 7, add layers of objects, so of course I build the robot a penis. Then a 10, found objects attached with screws, bolts or nails, I gave the robot some arms. 

An Ace let me choose a 9 so I could attach a foot to the robot. Then a Jack allowed me to paint yellow again, this time Nickel Azo Yellow. 

Yet another Ace let me choose the King which allowed me to paint the robot body a first coat color in the red family, Quinacridone Crimson.

A 10 allowed me to screw, bolt or nail an object so I selected the farm implement blade onto the bottom of the ironing board. 

Then time ran out in the weekend and this is as far as this project got. Perhaps some day soon I will get back to this robot.

Game #2

Any time I work on an assemblage I always have another one ready as there is nothing more frustrating than waiting two hours for some process to dry or harden.

The first step in the game is a Player's Choice (Joker): choose a substrate or a found object as the base. I decided to use the remnants of an Uncle Sam's Movie Projector with Durotone Sound System and Movie Tracer Set manufactured by Durable Toy and Novelty Corp., New York in 1935,

Not sure how this is even possible but I drew an A to begin the game. This is player's choice so I decided to do a 5: use a power tool. I did what I always do: figure out how this assemblage is going to hang when it is done.

Either I am the luckiest card player ever or karma was with me because I drew another Ace. I chose 9: add a found object with glue or clay. On went the head, a Hercules Red Dot Smokeless Shotgun Powder can.

A four meant I had to add an image or text. This made me think a bit until my art buddies headed into town to do some shopping and I ordered a yard of muslin. I knew this little wheel still turned and that a scroll would be possible and after some mixed media magic, the robot had a text scroll.

Another A!!! I selected a 9 and attached a base to the projector. (Just so you know, this eliminated the need to the hanger I put on in step 2).

A King had me painting the chest knob (after I assembled it--which might be cheating) Pyrole Red and some other colors. 

The collar around the head and the base got painted blue thanks to a Queen. 

I drew a 7 which allowed me to paper mache the body (not pictured). I took advantage of another Queen and some blue paint to fix the body. 

A 3 (add 3 details) found me attaching three small objects to the base for character. (These appear here in a later photo where they were painted--see below).

A 2 (the repeat card) meant I could add three more objects so on when the top and two arm. 

A 6 (add value, shade or tint) let me work details into the body with paint. 

A 2 (repeat) let me add the paint to the three small details mentioned above.

A 5 meant I had to use a power tool so I drill into the "hair" to add a gear.

A Joker meant anything goes so decided to paper mache the remaining parts of the robot body to get it ready to paint. 

I drew a 9 and had to attach something with glue or clay. I drilled into the dice to E6000 it to the gear. 

I drew another 9 so I gave the robot a power source. 

By now it was nearing the end of the workshop and I was nearing the end of my patience. I decided to take advantage of the last step in the game, "The artists declares Players Choice: Chance To Choose Any Of The Fates (if necessary)." That translates as "I finished the project."

Thus we have Hercules Red Dot. He is 10"H X 7"W X 8"D. It consists of a Uncle Sams Movie Projector, Hercules Red Dot Smokeless Shotgun Powder Can, Dice, Gear, Chimney Clearner, Pie Crust Trimers (2), Bicycle Lights, Metal Trims (6), Resistor, Wood Bulb, Muslin, Wood Base and Paint. 

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