Ste. Michelle Judges Your Art!

Burning Art: Flipside 2017

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural edition of Ste. Michelle Judges Your Art.  In this series, Ste. Michelle plans to judge your art by assessing its ability to burn and how spectacular it will be to witness its burning destruction.  A necessary caveat:  Don’t Burn Other People’s Art, no matter how cool I make it sound.  

I’ve got a lot of art to judge before Flipside, and I may need to postpone some of it to after the event, but I literally just thought of this idea, so that’s my own fault for not thinking of it sooner.


Community Masterpiece

A blank canvas for the community to create a masterpiece (or just paint and have fun).

The artist for this art describes it as “A 5X8 blank canvas(es) with paint supplies open to the community to express themselves day or night.”   This one is interesting, as it doesn’t provide enough detail of the materials to properly assess it.  So I’ll guess.  According to Google, canvases are typically cotton or linen stretched across a wooden frame.  Although, at this size, that would be pretty costly, so there’s a good chance this is not a stretched canvas.  This is where I have to split into two factions: Team Paper and Team Canvas.

Team Paper

Team paper means the canvas will be some sort of large paper canvas, like we used in grade school for our water colors.  This version is super simple to light on fire, a single match, a lighter or even a lit cigarette could ignite a paper canvas.  No amount of paint will make a difference, even soaking wet, paper will ignite.  Any structure that is supporting the paper will be harder; a wooden frame probably won’t ignite if just the paper is lit.  But with a little kindling or sustained exposure to a fire source, a wood frame will ignite, relatively easily.

The fire would be fast, the paper would light and burn up completely in a minute if it’s lit in the middle.  The first few seconds would be fun to watch the flame spread, but fairly quickly it would be over, except for the embers which would be light and float off.  A night time burn would allow them to appear pretty as they float away.  The frame would be slower, but it would like flame up and collapse fairly quickly.  It may even get extinguished before it’s completely burned if the ground is wet.

Ease of Burn:  Very Very Easy

Quality of Burn: Short and kind of dull.


Team Canvas

Thick woven cotton and linen are much harder to catch fire than paper.  They will eventually burn when exposed to normal flame (like a lighter), but will burn slowly and without much excitement.  (I suppose if you put the canvas on top of an already lit fire (really hot) and it would be a little exciting if it got caught in an updraft and the flaming canvas flew out over a crowd, but you’d really have to work on that and it would require more infrastructure than is planned.)  The frame would be dried softwood, so it would burn fairly quickly (maybe faster than the canvas if it wasn’t wrapped in canvas to start with.)  A slow steady burn with a small collapse and minimal flames.

Ease of Burn: Very Easy

Quality of Burn:  Not long and kind of dull.


Regardless of its makeup, this art is probably more interesting not on fire.  


Freefall Simulation

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

The Freefall Simulation is a giant gyroscope with a VR headset and a bunch of fans that will make you feel like you are plummeting towards earth from very high up.  Which sounds pretty neat.  But I need to know:  Would it burn?  

Once again they didn’t list their components, but I’m going to guess that the gyroscope device is steel and/or stainless steel, the fan is one of those big ass metal fans, and the electronics are plastic, PVC or polyethylene coated copper or aluminum, silicon circuitry and steel cases.

When presented with flame, and it will take a lot of flame, the first to go up will be those tiny cables and the plastic VR frames.  If there’s any glass in there, I’d expect it to crack and fall under the flames pretty quickly.  After that comes the gyroscope.  If there are any lubricants to make it move smoothly, those will burn off fairly quickly (and smell awful), but the steel itself will take a lot more that your average flame thrower.  My research indicates that steel wool will ignite with just a lighter, and all of the other sites that discuss igniting steel involve 9/11 conspiracies, and I’m not getting put on that list anytime soon, so I’m just gonna make some wild assumptions based on my understanding of physics I learned by watching movies and studying medieval metallurgy (aka watching the history channel).

Steel is hard to ignite, but it can melt if you have gallows and plenty of combustible material to heat it.  So if you yanked the fans out of from under the gyroscope, replaced it with a bunch of hardwood lit that wood and the used the fans to force air into the fire, you could melt the whole thing in place.  Though you might need a way to encompass the heat of the fire.

Perhaps if you were to toss some thermite in there, that would speed things up a bit.

Ease of Burn: Very Very Hard

Quality of Burn: Initially interesting and smelly, overall a grueling dull process with little to show.  Unless you use thermite.  


It really seems like it would be more interesting to play in, and not light on fire.