Saturday, December 17, 2011

**Process** The Chinese Dragon

Now I just need to drill 50 gazillion holes in him and load them with firecrackers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Ass with Three Legs: Chapter 9

The Ass with three Legs: Copper, Shell Eyes
Some of these creatures could use an updated name. This guy is a pretty awe-inspiring beast- his name less so. For this chapter, Borges quotes the Bundahish, a rewritten version of the works of Zarathustra's works destroyed by Alexander the Great:
"Of the three-legged ass it is said that it stands in the middle of the ocean and that three is the number of its hooves and six the number of its eyes and nine the number of its mouths and two the number of its ears and one the number of its horn. Its coat is white, its food is spiritual, and its whole being is righteous. And two of its six eyes are in the place where eyes should be and two on the crown of its head and two in its forehead; through the keeness of its six eyes it triumphs and destroys... As to its ears, they overshadow Mazdanderan. Its horn is as of gold and hollow, and from it a thousand branchlets have grown. With its horn it will bring down and scatter all the machinations of the wicked."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lobison: Chapter 102

Lobison: copper
The Lobison has got to be the thinnest metaphor in the book. Here's Borges:
"Since no wolves inhabit these regions, men are supposed to take on the shapes of swine or dogs. In certain towns of Entre Tios, girls shun young men who live in the vicinity of stockyards because on Saturday nights they are said to turn into the aforementioned animals."
I've known some folks, both men and women, who turn into pigs and/or dogs on Saturday nights.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

El Tigre Capiango: Chapter 102

El Tigre Capiango: Copper with Patina
Chapter 102 has three creatures- The Sow Harnessed by Chains, the Lobison, and the Tigre Capiango. Borges describes the last this way: "This beast is not a jaguar but a man who, at will, can take on the jaguar's form. Usually his purpose is to frighten friends in the spirit of rustic jesting, but highwaymen have also availed themselves of this guise. During the civil wars of the last century, General Facundo Quiroga was popularly supposed to have under his command an entire regiment of Capiangos."

I looked up the word Capiango- it took some searching, but translated as "clever thief". Whether this meaning predates or postdates the monster, I do not know, but it seems to point more toward the highwaymen than towards either jesting or warriors.

were-jaguar process

jaguars must have spots. They're getting drawn on by hand. First with a thin sharpie for outlines.
And then everywhere that I want to stay light gets filled in with a thick sharpie. the marker will act as a resist. Erasing is basically impossible, as the acetone ALSO acts as a resist. Any unwanted line must be sanded off.
On a mask with so much detail on one side, some detail must be applied to the other, lest the whole thing look odd on display
And here he is with the patina applied. Next step will be to remove the sharpie.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sow Harnessed with Chains: Chapter 102

Copper sheet, Copper chain
For this beast, Borges quotes from page 106 of Felix Coluccio's Dictionary of Argentine Folklore.
"In the northern part of Cordoba, especially around Quilinos, people spwak of a sow harnessed with chains which commonly makes its presence known in the hours of the night. Those living close to the railroad station maintain that the sow slides on the tracks, and others assured us that it is not unusual for the sow to run along the telegraph wires, producing a deafening racket with its "chains." As yet, nobody has caught a glimpse of the animal, for as soon as you look for it, it vanishes unaccountably."
Borges ads that the Sow harnessed in Chains (Chancha con cadenas) also sometimes goes by Tin Pig (chancho de lata)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Animal Imagined by C.S. Lewis: Chapter 5

Copper, Pennywhistle, Black Cotton Thread, Bells
The singing beast is one of the tough ones. He is described only as a sound.

Borges ads no comment, only including a passage from C.S. Lewis' Perelandra. Here's a bit of it:
"The noise was very loud now and the thicket very dense so that he could not see a yard ahead, when the music stopped suddenly. There was a sound of rustling and broken twigs and he made hasitly in that direction, but found nothing. He has almost decided to give up the search  when the song began again a little farther away. Once more he made after it; once more the creature stopped singing and evaded him. He must have played thus hide and seek with it for the best part of an hour before his search was rewarded... The head was in profile from where Ransom stood- the mouth wide open as it sang of joy in thick0-coming trills, and the music almost visibly rippled in its glossy throat..."

There is also a referance to "fawn like shyness" and "its evident wish to be forever a sound and only a sound".

That last bit is what stuck with me. It seemed a shame to make such a beast into a static object. At first, i wanted it to hide wholly behind bells, later, the whistle seemed to not need hiding, and, finally, I did not hide him completely, allowing him in his shyness to peak out at us, his audience.

The whistle is fully playable.

C.S Lewis Process

Tying infinite knots takes a long time. Should I say something else? I picked up that pennywhistle from my favorite toystore on main street in Frederick, MD. The bells shipped in from Hong Kong. I do not always pull off shopping local.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Banshee **process**

I wasn't planning on starting the banshee just yet, but the opportunity arose. She is formed over a cheap plastic mask; once she's got enough layers of lacquer, I'll peel that out and she'll be self supporting.

Not all the monsters will be pretty- the Banshee may well be the ugliest, when we get to the end. There's no good literary reason why- I mean, yes, she's a harbinger of bad tidings, but she doesn't ever actually DO anything.  The reason goes back to when i was a wee kid, and my mom had a couple of Brian Froud's books- Fairys, Gnomes, maybe something else. The Fairys book was my first intro to the darker side of fairytales, and one of the illustrations was of the Banshee, and it was terrifying. I mean, really really scary to a 7 year old girl, and not a lot less scary to me now, as a grown person. This mask is disturbing in a different way, but I knew from the beginning that she would have to make the viewer cringe a little.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Squonk: Chapter 104

Squonk: Copper, Steel Chain, Steel wire, Crystal Tears
The Squonk comes up much later in the book, but so many folks have asked about her, I decided to bump her up. I really rather love her.

from Borges: "Hunters who are good at tracking are able to follow a squonk by its tear-stained trail, for the animal weeps constantly. When cornered and escape seems impossible, or when surprised or frightened, it may even dissolve itself into tears."

He goes on to describe hunting the bird on frozen nights, in order to catch even the tears.

This beast is obviously pitiable, but also clearly silly. The only reason given for it's lamentation is that the bird does not think it is beautiful.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cerberus: Chapter 22

Cerberus: Copper, Carnelian
From Borges: "If Hell is a house, the house of Hades, it is natural that it have its watchdog; it is also natural that the watchdog be fearful."

My dogs are a little cute, though, I think, with their big ears and big eyes.  There was some exploration of the number of heads cerberus has, with three as the conclusion. Later, though, there is mention that his tail is a serpent, with which he would bite anyone trying to leave Hades. I had sketched that serpent tail into my mask- partially for accuracy, and partially for balance. I looked at my sketch right before I made my pattern, but I did not reference the book, and remembered that bit on my sketch as a scorpion tail, which is what I fabricated. This doesn't bother me; this is how stories are meant to be; living, breathing, and sometimes changing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Squonk: **process**

Most of the time the the squonk has taken has been spent untangling chain- that chain arrives, all 100meters of it, in one unspooled heap. Fun. Worth it, though. Have to finish putting the tears on the other side, form the mask itself, and she'll be finished. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Cheshire Cat: Chapter 23

Cheshire Cat: Copper, Silver Leaf, Polyester
First- I don't actually know it's polyester. I bought it back a month ago, and I've forgotten and didn't write it down. Eventually, I'll change the description to "cloth" or "mesh" but right now, polyester seems pretty funny.

According to Borges, the phrase "grin like a Cheshire cat" existed pre-alice. I didn't know that.Borges knew many things I do not know. Borges also puts the Cheshire Cat- known for his grin- in the same chapter as the Killkenny cats- known for their teeth. I wanted teeth, and that crescent moon smile, and a suggestion of a cat. I based this mask very loosely on an African mask, and, somehow, ended up with a Cheshire cat Burka, which seems very perfect, and I do hope it doesn't offend anyone. By the time I finish this book, I will have appropriated things from all sorts of cultures I know much less about, and I can only hope that everyone has a sense of humor.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cereberus *process*

Some masks simply are more than one day's labor. Cereberus is fabricated, but not finished. His small heads both needs eyes, and he himself needs smoothing and generalized finishing. The he'll get waxed and have his portrait taken- hopefully tomorrow!  
1- pattern making. Cereberus' pattern is based off parts of Cassowary, Crocotta, and Phooka. ANd then mostly redrawn. 
2- Tracing. As you can see, the horns get put on, here. I did make a pattern for the horn tip heads, so they would be the same.
3. First hammer pass. Clearly, I missed photographing a few steps before here. This is after the second annealing (the first was just to fold the horns in half. Usually I do all my forming in one pass, but not today.
4. Second hammer pass. Getting the two horns where I want them, and perfectly matching. This is sometimes a little frustrating.
5. Soldering. Once the horns are done, the next step is to join that long seam. I'll do so in multiple passes, each time securing somewhere from 1-4 inches. 
6. Fabrication and fitting complete. The fitting on a piece with a crest can take a while- in this case over an hour to get all the curves lined up the way I wanted them. His crest helps balance the two hornheads that fall so far forward, making him actually pretty wearable.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cheshire Cat: process

the frame for the cheshire cat, in progress

and the frame complete, with silver leaf teeth. This frame will be largely invisible, but, for now I have to let the leaf set for 48 hours. So on to cerberus!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Monkey of the Inkpot: Chapter 77

Monkey of the Inkpot: Copper
From Borges: "...Then a person sits down to write, the monkey squats cross-legged nearby with one forepaw folded over the other, waiting until the task is over. Then it drinks what is left of the ink, and afterward sits back on its haunches, quiet and satisfied" This text appears to be quoted by Borges from Want Tai-Hai. At any rate, i thought it adorable. The text on here is the paragraph typed in the kickstarter video. It took three tries to get the etching the way I wanted it; lacy in some parts, a little more solid in others. I wanted a monkey made of words, words so jumbled by being drunk up that they were no longer truly legible.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oroborous **process**

Much of the time, for face masks, I do not make a paper pattern. I copy my general pattern onto the metal, and then draw, either in or out from it, directly on the copper. I draw with a sharpie, and erase with acetone (acetone being the one chemical that I do keep in the shop- it's just so darned handy). I'll keep reworking it untill I think it's just right, and then I'll cut it out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011