Friday, June 3, 2011

Mardi Gras float warehouse

Before leaving New Orleans, we took the tour over at "Mardi
Gras World" the only Blaine Kern Studios warehouse which is
open to the public: I had not realized that
this one organization creates almost all the materials for the
53 different Mardi Gras parades . Only 14-18 artists are
employed full time so needless to say they are busy all
year long. Each Krewe has at least one "signature" float
which "roles" every year, but the rest of the floats (There
have to be at least 10 - maximum of 15) roll only once. The
sea serpent below is one such signature float. Look closely and
you'll see me about to be licked by the serpent to get a sense of

Here is another image to show scale.That's my hubby
who is around 5'11".

Only the bases are kept, everything else is dismantled, taken apart
and painted over with white to begin again. The tour takes you
by the work stations for repainting, sculpting new Styrofoam etc.

The warehouse was filled with mythic creatures from last year
and previous year's needless to say I was a happy

Since my father used to ride in the Krewe of Hermes parade, I
enjoyed seeing the floats up close and personal, inside and out.
This image shows the inside with hooks for the necklaces
thrown and ropes which participants hook on to belts to make
sure they don't fall off!

As we were walked next to the floats, I looked
closely at the materials used. The glistening gold on the
floats looked like gold leaf. I confirmed with one of the
artists that I was correct. Strips of gold leaf are lightly glued
on so they dance in the breeze and leave behind a trail of gold.

At the end of the tour, you can wander to your heart's
content through the warehouse on your own savoring
parts from previous years' parades which wait to be
converted into new items for new floats..

After Mardi Gras World, we wandered over to the Ogden
Museum of Southern Art:
We enjoyed the photographs of juke joints in one gallery
and sculpture and paintings throughout.
Then ended up over on Frenchman road to listen to music
connected with a fund raiser for the Japanese Red Cross.
Japanese drumming, jazz, and zydeco.

We left New Orleans feeling like we had just begin to
know and understand a bit of the city. We definitely
hope to return.

The drive back home through the devastation of the
tornadoes in Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia was
sobering. When we saw images of the tornadoes
which hit Massachusetts this past Wednesday,
we were reminded of the uncertainty of life. The
New Orleans philosophy of living in the moment
came to mind.

Once home my focus was helping the children
at Hawthorne Youth and Community Center
finish their dragon sculpture. Process photos of that
project next post!

Adventure on! Wendy

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