The Flamingo Project
The story ......
April 18, 2001: My design "Flamenco Flamingo" was one of several hundred chosen to be part of Miami-Dade's Art in Public Places project, called "Flamingos in Paradise". The objective was to have 300 seven foot tall flamingos placed all over Miami Dade for six months, after which they would be auctioned for charity. Prospective sponsors would choose a flamingo from the hundreds already pre-selected, to be crafted by the artist.
June 18, 2001: I was invited (along with the other artists) to a huge kick-off party where the project was introduced by Rosie O'Donnell, spokesperson for the project benefitting CHARLEE Homes for Children. Though I was excited by the prospects, by the end of the summer of 2001 I still had not gotten a sponsor for our bird and figured we were not going to make the final cut.
Then September 11th happened. Shortly after that I received a letter saying that due to the current state of affairs, the project was being abandoned. No big deal. Nobody wanted our Flamenco Flamingo anyway.
December 28, 2001: I receive another letter. Not wishing to abandon the project entirely, the city of Miami Beach and the city of Coral Gables decide to continue the project but on a smaller scale and the date had been moved to December of 2002. There would now be only 100 flamingos chosen, 70 in Miami Beach and 30 for Coral Gables. If I wanted my design to be included I need not do anything, it would remain in the book and, hopefully, chosen. 'In for a penny, in for a pound', as they say in England. I let it ride, firmly believing nothing would come of it.
April 8, 2002: Monday afternoon and I get a call from the city of Coral Gables. They have found a sponsor for my flamingo! That's the good news. The bad news is, the deadline for completing the bird has been changed again and is now April 26th. Less than 3 weeks away. Am I still interested in participating? Am I crazy?? Yes, to both.
April 12, 2002: The entire week went by with daily promises of the flamingo being delivered "by tomorrow, latest". At 8 PM on Friday it finally arrived, looking tired and dirty and very rough around the edges.
Terri, who will be responsible for a lot of the work on Flamenco instantly bonds with her new charge.
April 15, 2002: Flamenca (our new name for her) has been primed, sanded and a base coat has been applied. We're still not sure how to make her skirt. Having to be permanent enough to stand up to 6 months of Florida weather (through hurricane season, no less!) is proving to be a challenge. But at least we're getting her makeup on!
Yards of lace are draped and painstakingly glued to her wings, following the contours of each feather.
April 20, 2002: Creating the skirt turns out to be quite a challenge. It needed to be weatherproof and sturdy enough to stand up to people handling it for 6 months. I decide to go the fiberglass route but never having worked with the stuff, and knowing that it is messy and difficult, I ask Frank to help. The difficulty lies in creating the skirt shape and affixing it to her back so it blends and becomes part of the bird, forming her dress. When working with fiberglass, you have very little time to actually work the material once you mix the resin and the hardener. Messy is an understatement. It is downright nasty!
We finally figured out how to attach the separate panels to each other which involved drilling holes and sewing them together with fine wires. Meanwhile, while we wait for the fiberglass to completely harden, I work on the face and hair. Teri finishes up the lace wings.
Notice her castanet earrings, embellished with red rhinestones. And blue eyes, just like me!
The skirt is starting to take shape, albeit way smaller than we originally would have liked. The original sketch was totally impractical and would not have been possible to create. We will have to contend ourselves with a micro-mini flamenco skirt. Now comes the REALLY nasty part - cutting and sanding it to smooth it out.
. Wielding my trusty Dremel, I finish the final shaping of her skirt. Kids, don't try this at home. Fiberglass dust is everywhere! Next step is priming and painting the skirt. While it dries, I finish up the mantilla comb, highlight her hair and paste on her beaded necklace.
Oh! And don't forget the bejeweled fan! The lady would not be complete without her fan whose rhinestones match those in her wings.
April 23, 2002: She is basically finished except for the final protective coat of.....what? We are out of time and can't seem to get a definitive answer as to what to use to seal and protect her many layers and different materials. We settle on a combination of things and hope that she dries in time to be picked up on April 26th.
April 25, 2002: The four of us line up for a final photo. From the left, front row, Diane Jeffers, Karen Rose, Teri Salomoni. Rear, Flamenca.
Flamenca at her perch on Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.
Thanks for looking!