Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brief Update

While I was on vacation the first week of September, I completed another mask for the commission. The piece below is the 'Seal Inhua' - unfinished. This mask is dry-fitted together. When it's stained it will be white (it represents a hair seal), with black and a little bit of red. The original mask was surrounded with a white caribou fur ruff. Lacking access to caribou fur, I will replace the ruff with a 'ruff' of white feathers. This mask is about10" long and about 5" wide.

The crack that runs diagonally across the piece is inherent to the cottonwood bark - it is actually the grooves in the front side of the bark that I carved down to. I thought about filling the crack with putty, but the piece isn't unstable - I did insert a dowel through the underside of the crack. The oil stain should also seal the wood and keep it from checking - I've never had problems with the bark doing that. The only other option is to make a new seal.

On vacation, I also completed a partner doll for my friend Rebeca's Baba Yaga. This is Pavel. I finished his clothes last Sunday, and he has now gone to his new home, where he is keeping Baba Yaga company. Pavel is dressed in a Cossack costume, with a green tunic and trim that match Baba Yaga's outfit. I'll have to go visit Rebeca again to take a photo of the two together!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Commission Work

I didn't take vacation all summer - except the odd Friday off to make a long weekend. So as summer's end crept up on me, I decided to take the first week of September off - since my birthday falls in this week as well. So I've been off since last Friday - not a vacation to travel to any exotic locale - but a vacation nonetheless.

Earlier this summer, one of the managers in my office commissioned me to do some pieces for her office. Specifically, she wants a wall that will instantly take her to the ocean. I've spent much of my time off this past week working on the pieces for this installation. It's a long wall - around 15 feet, and about 4 feet above the tops of some cabinets that will be transformed into the sea. We can't paint the walls, so I decided I'd cut three large panels of birch plywood and stain them for a background for the masks. Each panel will feature a large mask, with some smaller pieces. The first piece I've completed carving is the "King Salmon" (two views below):

The piece hasn't been stained yet. It is dry-assembled here. The big salmon will be blue/black with a white belly. The hoops won't be stained. The long fin-like appendages will be white with a red groove. The smaller fish riding on the appendages will be blue with white bellies. The assembled mask is about 22" long and 18" wide (from the tip of one of the long narrow 'fins' to the other). The story behind the mask is that it represents the King of the Salmon - who 'herds' all of the other fish up the river so the people can catch them, and the fish will be plentiful.

To create the undersea feel, the larger masks will be accompanied by 'Jellyfish' masks and 'Bubbles', below:

These are small pieces - the largest is about 4 inches across, the smallest about 1.5" across. The top row of 'Jellyfish' will be white, with red insets. The 'Bubbles', bottom row, are blue, white and red. The jellyfish are meant to have three white feathers, as do the bubbles, but I may only put feathers on some of them.

The second larger mask, which I finished today, is a hair seal. I haven't taken a picture of it yet. The third large piece will be my original mask - an octopus. That is the only piece my client specified, along with fish and sea animals. She just wants to look at her wall and feel like she's been transported to the ocean.

This is a challenging project. I've never done an installation of masks before. It's quite different from making a collection of pieces that can each stand on their own. But it is fun to work on - and since I'm a child of the sea myself - having grown up on an island - it is easy in many respects for me to imagine the effect and how to achieve it.

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