Visual Arts

Ten items you'll need at Burning Man this year

Burning Man is hands-down the biggest celebration of life, art, music and culture that America has ever seen. The week-long event held in the days leading up to Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert -- roughly 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada -- will have approximately 50,000 people in attendance this year.

Every big player in the electronic, jam, bluegrass and dance scene will most likely be playing sets there -- or at least enjoying the company of friends and family. And at the Bazaar-B-Q held at Fusion Factory this past weekend in Denver, veterans of Burning Man and other creative individuals gathered to sell items that could be useful at the celebration. Here's a list of ten things you'll need to survive at the Burn':

10. Colorful hats Lisa Keipp designs toys, costumes and headwear for her business, Pink Turtle Creations. "Most likely, you'll see lots of colorful attire, but if I had to pick one thing, I'm sure this hat would fit in great," she says. We think so, too. 9. Bikes The most reasonable way to get around the desert is a bicycle. Attendees adorn their cycles in all kinds of swag, including ribbons, lights, fur and pretty much anything else you can attach. 8. Fur outfits Mercedes Gerow designs and creates outfits entirely made out of fur. "It's the desert, so it gets quite cold at night," she explains. "So after my first Burn, I realized that this is what can help." Gerow's work can be seen all over the desert, but until then you can view it at

7. Poi Among the many wonders of Burning Man are poi and other circus activities. "I started spinning a while ago," says Susan Feller, a Burning Man vet and fire-spinning enthusiast. "I really just came to enjoy the whole of it." Scarf hoods are also recommended to keep dust and sand out of your hair...though it probably won't help too much. 6. Crafts Since no money is to be exchanged for the duration of Burning Man, people often bring things to barter. Earrings, quilts and other crafts are among the items that people trade for other forms of art, jewelry and practical use. Mary Feller (mother of Susan, quilter of quilts) of Colorado Springs has watched her three children visit Burning Man and report back about the wonder. "It sounds amazing, but I think I'll leave that on them," she says. 5. Functional glass art Glass-blowing is a wonderful hobby, but as Kate Kelly puts it, "I really just enjoy how glass works." After attending a regional burn in Utah a few years ago, Kelly found herself immersed in the scene, and before she knew it, she was selling her own glass work under Spitfire Art. You will definitely find a lot of glass at Burning Man.

4. Crochet crafts Julie Samek makes "the best coozies in the world," as she put its. "Where else are you going to find something so colorful and useful that not only keeps your hand cool and your drink cold, but also looks great?" Her company, Love Pilot Designs, also sells water-bottle holders and other practical-liquid transporting accessories -- which are all hand-made. 3. Handcrafted clothing Elizabeth Jane designs almost all her clothes from up-cycled goods. "I just take old cloth and fabric and design new styles," she says. The cropped cloak adorned with leaves shown here is becoming more and more popular. Though you might find one in the Shire, you will definitely be seeing them at Burning Man this year, as she will be attending her eighth come August.

2. Elegant Gowns Dubtri Designs does a lot of the same things -- up-cycling cloth and fabric to create new designs. Designer Nici She found some old fur and created an elegant evening gown for Burning Man. "It's practical, and made from recycled materials," she notes. "I do all the stitch work myself, and put a little something special into each one." 1. Gems and wraps Aaron Ether, gem connoisseur with Tesseract Dynamics, wrapped a Mexican fire opal with silver. Wire wraps and gems are quite common in the music and art scene that surrounds Burning Man.

Honorable Mention:

C.O.R.E. (Circle of Regional Effigies): This year, Colorado officially has become part of C.O.R.E., with the home base right here in Denver. On Thursday, just four days into Burning Man, all 35 C.O.R.E. groups from around the world will display their effigies before burning them all at the same time.

"Our design this year will be a Dragon Lotus that we will burn," says Truly, a designer and creator of the effigy. "But before so, we will slowly peel back the layers of panels, and out from the center will rise the dragon." The C.O.R.E. group of Colorado works every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday in the evening to finish the project.

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Britt Chester is a writer and video producer living in Denver, Colorado. He's covered breaking news, music, arts and cannabis for Westword since 2010. His work has appeared in GQ Magazine, Village Voice, YES! Weekly, Inman News and the Winston-Salem Journal. He likes running, cycling, and interviewing people.
Contact: Britt Chester