Makers Gonna Make

Something very interesting is happening in this stressful year of 2020. Our makers and gifters have been working overtime to produce gift items for Burning Man 2020, a year in which the event could not take place physically on the playa. But how can they gift these items to other Burners when we’re not all together in Black Rock City? The answer can be found in various online gifting groups coupled with the good old US Postal Service. Many of us who are sheltering in place or working from home are familiar with mail delivery quite often being the highlight of the day.

In addition to gifting, the usually frowned-upon method of bartering is also happening. Since on-playa gifting and receiving isn’t possible, makers are posting their latest creations online where others can request an item or offer up a trade for one of their own creations. We all know that gifting doesn’t seek anything in return; however, considering the bizarre circumstances of 2020, gifting and bartering via the USPS is making many people very happy in these times of social isolation. One gifter says, “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve gifted who have told me that this group and the generosity of spirit, care, creativity and fun have been a lifeline for them in this incredibly difficult year.

Absinthia’s Arctica swag ready to mail out

Many patches and stickers feature amusing references to Covid-19, including images of the viral particle and various curses directed its way. We’re seeing tickets to nowhere, driving passes good only in the Multiverse, and, of course, “it was better next year.” Jewelry makers haven’t expressed the loss of the event, but have gone with more classic themes such as the Man’s head, city map, and the Multiverse.

Pendants and pins by Jelena Ru Andreva, Tzipora Hoynik, Grommet, Gustavo Mattos de Lima, Lorrie Bell and Randy Dell for SwagMart, and Howard Davis

In true Burner style, our makers have created, from loss, an opportunity to carry on creating playa swag despite the difficult circumstances of 2020. The spirit of gifting is stronger than ever, and the generosity and creativity of our community are flourishing despite challenging obstacles. Gifting groups are helping keep us all connected and lift our spirits as we experience our first year without Black Rock City. The irrepressible Burning Man spirit is unstoppable!

2020 Burner spirit
Masks by Sandra Verbruggen    
Print on fabric by Lofax Elifas

Patches from makers in the global Burning Man community

Stickers from makers in the global Burning Man community

Pendants, night light, cutting board and patch by Tod Johnson
Circuitboard and 3D printed plastic pendant by Maria Navarro
TBone Tod’s Mini Man  
Rope men by Amy Wicks
Pendants by Barry Rosenhamer; patch and stickers by Mark Telles
Gifts by Steve Blake
Departmental patches by Lofax Elifas
AfrikaBurn pendant by Jochen Wenz
Keys to Black Rock City by Jelena Ru Andreva
Award of Excellence patch and medal by Ty Eckley

Multiverse pendant by Eric CIfani
Additional Multiverse stickers by makers within the global Burning Man community

Captcha sticker by Mark Telles
Ten Principles patches by Lofax Elifas

Enormous thanks and appreciation to all the makers for this diverse and clever burst of gifting creativity!

About the author: Christine "LadyBee" Kristen


Christine Kristen (a.k.a LadyBee) is Burning Man’s Archivist, Art Collection Manager and Photo Gallery editor. She was Burning Man's art curator from 1999 to 2008, where she dealt with all things visual and aesthetic, including managing the art and the art grant program, photo-editing the Image Gallery, writing art content for the Burning Man website, working with the ARTery, managing the archives, and lecturing and writing about the art of Burning Man. She is the co-author of "The Jewelry of Burning Man", with Karen Christians and George Post, and the curator of the exhibition "PlayaMade: Jewelry of Burning Man", which debuted at the Fuller Craft Museum near Boston in 2017. It opens at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle in January 2020. She has an MFA in sculpture from the Art Institute of Chicago.

42 Comments on “Makers Gonna Make

  • Christine Brooks says:

    Honored to be mentioned, happy to be part of the BM Gifting Guild. Impressed how gifting can continue off playa, and love how the contections are sweeter, as you get to know people’s names and where they come from. Thanks to the USPS, which we need to keep alive.

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    • Myriam Uhde says:

      This has been such an amazing journey for My sister , Sandra Verbruggen she makes the Masks with the embroidered Man on it and is overwhelmed with the love she gets back, you has we call it now BM mail almost everyday! Spreading that community vibe keeps her going ! She was (sadly) not mentioned, but go het out ! People that have received her masks , have made connections in the default world !! By just wearing the masks.

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    • Kelly Craig says:

      It’s pretty damn cool to see all my gifts I’ve mailed out as the very first picture.. thanks
      Lady Bee

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  • Dr Kegels says:

    How cool!

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  • Grommet says:

    Gifting has been keeping me going this year! I’ve been loving the online camaraderie in some of the gifting groups I’m in.

    Sad too see I’m the only one not credited in the pendant picture :'( Mine is the bronze man head pendant on the upper right

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  • It’s an honor to be amongst such amazing artist.
    Nothing inspires me more than the burn and the ethos within it.

    I took the time to learn a new skill and created the Abalone inlay head medallions on walnut.

    Thank you Lady Bee for including my art

    All the luv
    Super Nova

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    • Christine Brooks says:

      They are beautiful. Congratulations

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    • (Dutch) Vince Scholten says:

      Thank you for keeping the spirit alive,I am a 16 year burner and head up the VRT (with help of course). I love the abalone, I have been gifting abalone that I have found on the beach that have been naturally polished by the ocean for years . I simply drill a hole through and cut a piece of hemp twine to fit the giftie. The responses I have gotten over the years has been incredibly heartfelt with people in awe at their natural beauty. It seems that most folks like the smaller pieces,but am always left with the larger ones and am not sure what to do with, as they are incredible maybe I could gift you some. Thanks Dutch

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  • Tom (the Bishop) Andrejko says:

    No matter what happens or how far we are from the Playa the spirit of Burning Man lives in each of us Burners. We carry a small grain of dust on our souls and we keep the memories alive until we meet at home. Live on my brothers and sisters , until we meet again in some dusty place. May Love and Peace FILL your Heart. The Bishop, L and 4:30.

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  • Tod "TBone" Johnson says:

    Wow.. Great Article.. Thank you for the mention. MORE to come.

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  • Absinthia says:

    Thank you for including my Arctica stickers, Ladybee!

    I shared with the gifting group how sad I was to be missing my playa birthday this year. I turned 25 at my first and was heartbroken to not celebrate my 50th on playa. Half my life!

    What happened? The mailbox filled up, and on my birthday, I opened dozens of envelopes full of swag by talented and generous burners!!! It made my birthday so special, even though I was sheltered in place at home.

    The generosity and kindness won’t be forgotten!


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  • Sandra Verbruggen says:

    It’s an honor to be amongst such amazing artist.
    Gifting the embroidery masks has been such a joy for me. Ever week I get mail as well from other burner. I call it my BM mail. I am so honored to receive this gift.
    I am also very grateful to be part of this amazing community.

    Thank you Lady Bee for including my masks!
    I hope so see you all next year in the dust. )’(

    Dusty hugs Sandra Verbruggen.

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  • Actiongrl says:

    This is amazing! I love it all, but the Captcha Man is REALLY awesome! Thank you to everyone who kept the gifting energy moving around this year.

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  • Joel Briggs Sgt Pepper says:

    Outstanding to you all and a great article. Thank you

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  • Lara says:

    Wow. These are each works of art in their own way. Beautiful, funny, irreverent, poignant…. What eye candy.

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  • Zilla says:

    Our group has been so incredibly inspiring. So many creative and helpful artists, not just pumping out swag, but also showing us newbs the ropes of design, ordering and procuring said swag.
    I gotta say, I’m pretty stoked to see all 3 of my first sticker run made it into the photo shoot!
    Keep the juices flowing, and watch your mailbox!!

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  • wind says:

    Cyan made the dumpster fire patch + sticker and the Municipal Airport patch.

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  • SierraNevada says:

    Thanks Ladybee!

    Very uplifting and encouraging – we need this. I like the 2020 dumpster fire patch. I think it’s well known that happy Burners generally need a strong sense of humor and that can be seen in the Makers works you display.

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  • Your creativity has kept me smiling through a rough year. I’ve met some pretty neat folks and have been the recipient and gifter of cool schwag. Little Art makes a mark Thanks LadyBee for adding this to JRS. .

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  • Ellen Keiter says:

    Thank you, Ladybee, for this inspiring and uplifting article! The spirit of gifting is alive and well in this year of craziness, and Burners all over have been so generous with their amazing gifts. Thanks to tip about using Sticker Mule, I was able to get my “gratitude” graphic design piece (the one I gifted last year) printed onto magnets that I can now gift out to those whose gifts I have already received. So much love here! Dusty hugs!

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  • Zann says:

    I want all of it! So so delicious, thank you!

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  • Robby "Frolic" Lehman says:

    My dog actually ate two large holes in my very favorite burner pants last night, so I searched for BM patches and voila! Your great article. How can I get a couple of those patches (iron on preferably, but I suppose my pathetic sewing ability can rise to the occasion)?

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  • Captain Whimsy says:

    Where can I find these schweeeet patches? I’d love to get my hands on some for me and my fellow dustheads. Searched etsy and ebay but can’t find a damn thing.

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  • SizZzle says:

    This thread just made me so happy!
    Thank you Makers and Gifters, for the gentle reminder on what it’s all about :)

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  • phoenix says:

    Awesome. I’ve “Fuck Fascism!” stickers for gift or trade!

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