Art Challenge: The Mask

My first project selection, how appropriate. A mask of a woman. I found during the self-guided journey, as I was choosing the pieces to work with, that I was gravitating towards images of women.

However I did not know it was of a woman at first glance. When I look at it now though, I see the effeminate nature of the eyes and facial features.
Elements I want to work with from the mask: The frame around the face, and the use of the feathers.
The process of my creation thus far is pretty basic. A vase. Tall, with a gentle flair.

(Keep in mind that as I created this vessel, I was giving myself the pleasure of experimenting. So you will see the whole process. Including rejected design elements.)
Now to incorporate something that reflects the elements in the mask.

I liked the round frame around the face, so I pushed a band out from the inside when the vessel was a softer leather hard, to create a ridge. I also wanted it to have handles, which suggest the curve of the nose, so that part was pushed out as well on both sides of the vessel.

Next I wanted to add a third dimension. Something to ‘hang’ around the edge – like the
feathers on the mask. I cut in holes to attach them with. Should I use feathers or leather? I cut out some leather strips, however I think I am going to use feathers. I will suspend them with a wire from the inside, going around the complete band.

The graining of the wood mask was an element I wanted to capture. I love texture and tend to shy away from ‘smooth’ because my pieces are stained and tactile, rather than glossy and glazed. I mixed up some slip into a creamy slurry and brushed it onto the outside of the vessel, not unlike when painting an acrylic or oil painting with heavy pigment. I also scribed into the ridge using miscellaneous tools to give it an organic feel.

Hmmmm…..after painting the slip onto the vessel, it still was not what I was looking on the body of the piece. I like the texture on the band, however not so much on the other part. I may use that technique some other time though. It was a great tester for me.

So I added more textures with a flat rib. Pushing and scraping.
Yeah….still not what I am looking for.

Next I ground up some dried clay, sprinkled it onto the leather hard walls, and then worked it into the surface of the vessel. (The dry clay particles appear lighter here because they are ‘drier’ than the rest of the vessel.
I like what I have come up with.

Now to envision what the rim will look like with the feathers attached
at the holes. This shot does not show the proportion of the vessel
which is about ten to eleven inches tall. I will need to find feathers that are appropriate for the finished dimensions.

The stain/finish. I am envisioning a band of creamy white with subtle
suggestions of red iron underneath. And red iron oxide throughout the
rest of the body on the outside. The inside will be a dark glaze so it
is able to hold water. Maybe a rust red or a brown that complements the
exterior red iron color once fired.
Once the piece is dry, I will have it low fired. Then I will apply the stains as I have thought them through thus far, and will have it high-fired to complete the process.
As the last steps are completed, I will post those photos here at the end of the post along with the finished product.
Until then…

Here is a little bit more about the mask:

Learn more about the Yup’ik culture.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.