Iconography and Artifacts
Voodoo is over 6,000 years old, and comes from places like West Africa, Haiti and New Orleans. It’s hot, gritty, and often poor. It’s both malevolent and benevolent. Voodoo has a rough texture. That’s why the engine resided in my living room for several months where I could take my time hand engraving it with the appropriate symbols and references.
I also needed to understand and incorporate actual parts of the Voodoo tradition like good luck charms and other cultural? Meaningful? Significant? It’s fine w/”other” but could put something else in here if you have time… iconography into the piece.
There is a scene in The World’s Fastest Indian where the camera slowly pans across a long shelf of defunct and discarded pistons forged by legendary Land Speed Record holder Burt Munro. In wobbly, hand painted letters above the shelf it reads “Offerings to the Gods of Speed.” People try their best to deal with spirits by appeasing them and, if possible, using them to their advantage. Among other things, they turn to the spirits for power, protection, guidance, and healing. And one way they manipulate the spirits is through the charms, amulets and talismans they wear.
Jewelry isn’t always just an accessory; it can be filled with power. Motorcycles can and should be dangerous, so I’ve incorporated charms to express that and protect the rider from harm and bring them luck.
Note the Mercury dimes that hang from around the leather saddle. In the Voodoo tradition Mercury dimes are used in a variety of ways. They are firstly a form of protective magic wherein a hole is drilled through dime and it is worn on a string around the ankle where it is believed to absorb any harmful magic or tricks laid down for the bearer and turn black if exposed to a hex or jinx.
The Voodoo Doll comes to life by shifting the heavily engraved Mojo Bone to the forward position, whereby the Victorian age, double-ended, perfume bottle then glows green as does the engine. This lets you know it’s alive. A Mojo bone is a type of lucky charm used in the magical tradition of Voodoo. It is thought to ensure a variety of positive effects, such as invisibility, good luck, protection from malevolent magic, rebirth after death, and romantic success.
The bone theme continues throughout the bike and is most dramatically expressed in the human skull that serves as the headlight housing. Painstakingly hollowed out and clasped together with a one-hundred year old heart shaped lock, it contains an LED light in each of the eye sockets and is engraved in Ouija board style lettering to help summon spirits.
Figureheads are the carved wooden sculptures that decorate the prows of sailing ships of yesteryear. In the perilous life of an ocean-going ship, figureheads embodied the spirit of the vessel, offering the crew protection from harsh seas and safeguarding their homeward journeys. To safeguard against bad luck Voodoo Doll’s bowsprit is adorned with a priestess or “Mambo” carved by hand from 3/8” aluminum plate. One side reads “Bon Chans” and the other “Pran Chans,” which is Haitian Creole for “good luck” and “take a chance.”
Another design consideration was the style in which Voodoo would be represented. Voodoo as a theme exists in many forms ranging from very dark to silly Hollywood kitsch. I wanted to represent voodoo by paying homage to it and also having fun. While the use of bones may evoke the macabre, the hand painted illustrations, engraved spooks and words like “Whammy,” “Voodoo Power,” and “Mojocycle” are meant to keep it playful and appealing.
Shape was considered when building the frame, gas tank, and other body parts. I had to determine how long, wide, tall, sharp or smooth and what angles should be used to evoke the feeling of something magical and potentially dangerous. The same is true for each hand made component like the gas tank, and other body parts. Steel and fiberglass is malleable, but only with considerable effort, so good design before construction is important.
One of the best ways to elicit emotions and reactions from viewers is through the use of color. Color tells you about expresses character. The Great Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky argued that artistic experiences are all about feeling, and that different colors affect mood. Voodoo is green. Like a science fiction movie poster from the 1950s or Scooby Doo’s Magical Mystery Machine. But not any green. This particular green with heavy metal flake (the magic.)
Artists use texture to create a specific feeling. Smooth or shiny textures, including metals like chrome, reflect more light and create a more contemporary finish.
Rough and coarse textures have more “visual weight” and create a rustic aesthetic. Given the nature and origins of Voodoo I chose the latter.
• Voodoo Doll is currently available for purchase. Its unique design and attention to detail make it ideal for a top collector or enthusiast. Please inquire for pricing and details.
Charlie Giordano, Tailgunner Exhaust