Introducing the Guild Workshops and the Piazza Around the Man

Guild Workshops, modern day maker spaces conceived in the spirit of the Renaissance, will be the central feature of a Piazza at this year’s Man Pavilion. Historically, guilds organized many aspects of a city’s socio-economic life. They may have included wool and silk traders, bankers, furriers and shoe makers. It’s no wonder that in a city like Black Rock, driven by art and experience, you will find glassblowers, blacksmiths, dreamers, chainsaw-wielding portrait makers, musicians, engineers, teachers, and many more. The Guild Workshops invite participants to manipulate mediums from molten glass to liquid steel, smelted aluminum to copper metal, sunlight to sound.

For years, Burning Man Regionals have been delighting participants with projects conceived in and delivered from far flung corners of the country and around the globe. This year is no different; 13 of the 32 Guild Workshops will be brought to you by Regional groups, including four international Regional projects coming from: Finland, Germany, Japan and Lithuania.

One of the guilds, Elephant Expressions, will examine Radical Self Expression as part of a 10-year project exploring the 10 Principles of Burning Man on and off playa. Members of Black Rock City’s own Department of Public Works will showcase their artisanal knowhow at Scultura di Collettivo, a blacksmithing guild guiding participants in the creation of a collective sculpture. We’ll witness the return of the Dragon Smelter as liquid aluminum is pressed into Florins before your very eyes, and knowledgeable engineers will provide instruction and resources to build your very own small scale flying machine.

This year’s Piazza is shaping up to be a bustling city centre full of beauty, inspiration and hands-on participation offered by participants for participants. We encourage you to learn from and engage with the many artists, artist collectives and Regional groups bringing their ingenuity and skill to the Guild Workshops of Black Rock City. A complete list of Guilds follows at the end of this article.

The Piazza

Roger Carr - Bells of Vitruviano
Roger Carr – Bells of Vitruviano

Rounding out the piazza, the campaniles, the piazza’s bell towers, will contain Leonardo-inspired bells to chime the hours:

Roger Carr is a feral physicist from Berkeley, who has done several Burning Man honorarium projects in past years. This year he has decided to channel Leo da Vinci and build a bell ringing gizmo in each of four campanile towers after a design of da Vinci’s. These are to call Burners to rotate Uomo Vitruviano on the hour.

Elsewhere, in the Piazza, you’ll find sculptures of a Renaissance inspiration:

Steven Lee Burright – Determinazione

Steven Lee Burright — playa name: Faceplant — is proud to create his first piece for Burning Man.

Steven has had a thirty year career as a Scenic Artist. He has painted, sculpted, built, and made props for hundreds of productions, but this is a grand opportunity for him to create a piece that is all his own.

Steven has worked on many production teams from Henson productions to the Discovery Channel but now creates for himself and for Burning Man.

He hopes with his Sculpture, “Determinazione”, to depict the determination it takes, in the face of the harsh elements, to create the event’s infrastructure. It is through this determination that artists and participants get a playground for their radical expression.

Vulfie Munson - Improba Putti
Vulfie Munson – Improba Putti

Vulfie Munson returns to the Man Pavilion with Improba Putti:

Improba Putti is in the style of an Italian renaissance sculpture with modern elements. She and they will have the look of Patinated Bronze and Copper. It has mythological beings inter-reacting in a playful (or not so playful) way, depicting an innocence during the Renaissance period.

Improba Putti is a Female Centaur being pulled by Winged Putti. The bas-reliefs encircling the plinth will be of underground scenes depicting caves, roots, stalactites, as well as a salamander, crayfish, bats and an armadillo.

Matthew ‘Fish’ Dockrey is a Seattle-area industrial artist who got his start on the playa with projects such as “Harmonic Fire Pendula” and “GMBLMZ.” He is now in the middle of an awkward transition to full-time artist focusing on public art installations. This year he is building “Hubris” for the Man Pavilion, a kinetic celebration of those who dare to defy the gods. Featuring Otto Lilienthal as Icarus, it will look at the last 200 years of scientific and technical progress through the lens of classical mythology.

Matthew Dockrey - Hubris
Matthew Dockrey – Hubris

Kevin Clark of Medusa Madness fame brings us Guardiano Leone:

Lions are representative of protection and therefore our Guardiano Leone is the guardian of the Man. Leonardo Da Vinci was fond of building flying machines and I felt it was only fitting to build a flying lion. Guardian Leone stands eight feet tall and has a wingspan of approximately 16 feet and made of various metals. (no photo available)

New York based artist and engineer Matthew Davis will be bringing his DISC-GO-SPHERE to the Man Pavilion. Last year was Matthew’s first burn, and he dove in way deeper than he expected, developing the breathing for “R-Evolution.” After many years of helping other artists bring their creations to life, he is finally doing his own interactive kinetic sculpture with help from a bunch of friends he’s made along the way.  This sculpture takes the flat circular sketch of Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” and brings it into three-dimensional kinetic reality.

Matthew Davis - DISC-GO-SPHERE
Matthew Davis – DISC-GO-SPHERE

New to Burning Man but well versed in Leonardo da Vinci is Dennis George Sparling, a self-described Scythian Hunter. From New Haven, VT he brings us Leonardo himself to grace the piazza. His Leonardo stands a whopping 9 feet tall in metal.

Dennis Sparling - Leonardo da Vinci
Dennis Sparling – Leonardo da Vinci

And what public square would be complete without a vending machine? An Adventure Vending Machine, that is?

Can Burners be brave and redefine radical participation? LAME Arts, a Bay Area art collective, is creating an Adventure Vending Machine that dispenses adventures created by you! Push a button: go on a community-created adventure, receive a special token, and return to unlock a community-created gift!

Adventure Vending will be a beautiful sculpture and functional furniture piece at the Man base, but it won’t be anything without the creativity of Burners. The entire project is community-driven, so we need you to submit adventures and gifts ASAP!

Find out more at: LAME Arts and on Facebook at Adventure Vending.

LAME Arts - Adventure Vending Machine
LAME Arts – Adventure Vending Machine

2016 Guild Workshops at the Man Pavilion

More information on these projects and ways to participate will be posted here in the coming months, and on the Guild Workshops Facebook fan page.

If you have any questions about the Guilds, please email us at

Arte Della Luce – Maker Labs, Vancouver, BC

Becoming the Master / Mistress of Stones: The Arts of Buon Fresco Revealed – Gabrielle Clark & Ritual Arts Collective, Oceanside, CA

Chasing the Pounder “Repoussé Café” – Jim Williams & The Guild of Wanderlust, Salt Lake City, UT

Commedia dell’Arte Morality Puppet Play – Orange County Burners, Westminster, CA

Amalgamated Debris Assemblage – Jimmy Descant, Salida, CO

D’Oro de Sacramenti Regionale – Sacramento Regional, Sacramento, CA

Dragon Smelter – Dragon Smelter Crew, Oakland, CA

Elephant Expressions – Scott London, New York, NY

Geometrical Constructions – Rhombohedron Society, Los Angeles, CA

Grand Elaborated Rule Masters And No-holds-barrers (G.E.R.M.A.N.) – German Burners, Berlin, Germany

Guild of Mile Higher Knowledge – Colorado Burners, Denver, CO

Hot Glass Arts Guild – Berkeley Bohemian Glassblowing Cooperative, Oakland, CA

I Tamburisti di FIREnze – Camp Thump Thump, New Orleans, LA

Koulu on Fire – Finnish Burners, Helsinki, Finland

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Flying Machines – Ed Van Dyne, Loveland, CO

LOOP – Dream Machine Guild, Tokyo, Japan

M3 – Minnesota Makers & Masterpieces – Minnesota Regional Burning Arts Council, Minneapolis, MN

Mad Sorcerer’s Workshop – NY regional

Polimerica sulla Playa – Horny Camp, New York, NY

Renoardo’s Artisan Menagerie – Reno C.O.R.E. Project, Reno, NV

Scopri da Vinci – Mark Rodgers and Matt Boggs, Chicago/Denver

Scultura di Collettivo – Forge of the Global Enlightenment, Truckee, CA

The Black Rock Notary – The Guild of Absolvance, Saugerties, NY

The Mask Factory – The Mask Factory Collective, Kingwood, TX

The Renaissance of Musical Instruments – Lithuanian Burners & M-Lab, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vapor Cannon Guild – Alabama Burners, Birmingham, AL

YO! Union Guild BRC Local 420 – Philly Burners, Philadelphia, PA

Ziggy Sawdust & The Chainsaws from Mars – Glenn Richardson, Woodstock, VA

Top image by Jack Haye

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

7 Comments on “Introducing the Guild Workshops and the Piazza Around the Man

  • Timeless says:

    As professional sculptor of over 4 decades and head master of my own apprenticeship program turned playa crew I should offer this to any would-be students of art that happen by.

    Apprenticeships predate our universities and in many ways they functioned better, especially for such disciplines as art. It’s a shame labor laws in most states prohibit no wage / no tuition arrangements but not in Nevada, the “Don’t tell me what to do state”… I fled California on such grounds — and I ran right into Burning Man, from where I now draw my students.

    At 56 I’mt bringing a chainsaw carving career to it’s highest expression — sculpting wood with fire! I call it Fire Inside and this summer me and crew will be front and center, Temple, burning a 30′ carved depiction of The Man in flames from the top down ha ha… I call the sculpture “Liberty Torch”, the art form “Fire Inside” and the installation “Creative Cauldron”.

    Wanna learn about both sculpting methods, first as apprentice, then as playa crew? Click my name and learn more about this year’s Timeless Installation. Follow the links to my website and read the Training Programs section. If it’s in your future, you’ll know what to do…

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  • inutile says:

    Io sono così jazzate. Ciò sta andando essere un tale “ost eccellente tempo”. Mi auguro che la previsione dura… pace,amore e buona felicità polvere

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  • useless says:

    I am so jazzed. This is going to be such a “most excellent time”. I hope that the anticipation lasts… peace,love and good happiness dust

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  • Jim Foster says:

    Being a gem cutter one thing I see missing is jewelry creation. This is likely a very ancient art so much so that cave dwellers engaged in it and is a sign of self awareness.

    Just a thought

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  • bigbaldybloke says:

    Lookin’ good to a first time burner. Can hardly wait :D

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