Tuesday, May 31, 2011

**Work in Progress** Leucrocotta

He will have little horns coming out of those two bezels, as well as some nasty teeth. He's basically a badger. Except, you know, for the horns.

Crocotta: half of Chapter 30

Copper with Stainless Steel Jaw
There are two creatures in Chapter 30- the full title is The Crocotta and the Leucrocotta. As the book progresses, there are quite a few chapters of this ilk; each creature will be treated as a finished entry.

From Borges- "Pliny writes (VIII 30) that the Crocotta is 'an animal which looks as though it has been produced by the coupling of the wolf and the dog, for it can break anything with its teeth...'"

So really, the Crocotta isn't imaginary at all. It is a hungry wolf. I'm under the impression that wolves already have pretty powerful jaws. Just in case, though, I gave my wolf a stainless steel jaw inset, with very sharp teeth.

Friday, May 27, 2011

**Work in Progress** Crocotta

There's his face, and the pattern for the inset for his steel jaw. The Crocotta sounds very much like a non-imaginary but very hungry wolf, to me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Eight Forked Serpent: Chapter 35

From Borges-
"...It was eight-headed and eight-tailed; its eyes were red as the winter cherry, and pine trees and mosses grew on its back... As it crawled, it stretched over eight valleys and eight hills..."

The story (once again written up more or less in its entirety) is of a snake who eats maidens/princesses. A hero named "Brave-Strong-Impetuous-Male" (I have got to go look up that name in its original tongue!) beats the snake by tricking it into a pen, getting it drunk, and cutting off its heads. Good job, Mr. Impetuous-Male.

I had, at the beginning, intended to have the snake heads be more abstract- just hammered flat on the ends and set with a carnelian for those red eyes. But I was seduced, and made them all with all their little forked tongues, instead. Here they are, in more detail.
The little trees have been in since the beginning. And they always looked just like this.
The snakes I wanted to be both separate entities and one beast; both landscape and creature. I went through several iterations before arriving here, at the end, with a crown that is also a mask.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barometz: Chapter 13

Copper, Wood
From Borges-
" The vegatable Lamb of Tartary, also named Barometz and Lycopodium Barometz and Chinese lycopodium, is a plant whose shape is that of a lamb bearing a golden fleece. It stands on four or five root stalks..."

I wanted a solid lamb, and a solid lamb in copper would have been too heavy to support. So I carved him out of a bit of 2x4. Then, when I got him atop the copper stalks, he didn't look like he fit, at all, so I rubbed him with copper dust and patinated the whole thing to a nice vegetable green.

And here's a close up of the sheep-

Monday, May 23, 2011

** Work in Progress** Eight forked serpent

First attempt at forging a snake. I think it rather worked. There will be seven more of them for this piece.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Double- Chapter 32

Copper, Mirror
If it is unclear from the photos here- The Double is only half a mask. I skipped ahead a bit, as things outside this project have gotten ridiculous, and I wanted something a little bit simpler to work on. This one I knew exactly what I wanted- what it should look like, how it would be constructed, and also, I already had all the parts. I am still putting off any mask for which I need to order parts, for financial reasons.

From Borges- "Suggested or stimulated by reflections in mirrors ans in water and by twins, the idea of the Double is common to many countries" Borges then goes on to list doubles in myth, fairytale, and literature; The doppelganger, the fetch, the wraith; stories by Stevenson, Rosetti, Hawthorne, Dostevsky, and more; and then on to Egyptian and Hebrew mythology. In most cases the Double seems to either cause or foretell doom, though there are some remarkable exceptions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

**Work in Progress** Barometz

This is its finished shape, but the patina will take several days to really mature. He'll be a bit green when he's done.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

**sketch** for the Barometz

This series really is getting me out of my comfort zone- I carved a wooden sheep for this mask. Actually, I carved two wooden sheep- the first one looked like a platypus, though. Yeah, I don't know how that happened, either. I'm still not pleased with the effect, even with the sheep like wooden sheep, though, and may start over again, or else may do something with color and patina.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Burak: Chapter 17

copper, peacock feather
From Borges-
" In the oldest versions of the story, Mohammed is guided by a man or an angel; in those of later date he is furnished with a heavenly stead, larger than an ass but smaller than a mule. The steed is Burak, whose name means 'shining.' According to Richard Burton, translator of The Book of a thousand and One nights and One Night, Moslems[sic] in India usually picture Burak with a man's face, the ears of an ass, a horse's body, and the wings and tail of a peacock"

For this mask, I modified the human face as little as possible, giving it a donkeys ears whose fluff is made of peacock feathers. If you look closely, there's  a little map for the guide to follow, inside those ears- from Mecca, to Jerusalem, to all seven levels of heaven.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

And now for something totally different

couldn't be much simpler, could it?
I don't like to interrupt the flow of things, but I've promised to do this little write-up/informal tutorial, and this is the only platform I have on which to do it. So it is here. Also, I am working on Burak, Chapter 17, today.
This will be done entirely with words- the photo above is the only one I took. I have tested this etching technique on stainless steel. I'm told it works equally well on copper, brass, and sterling silver. I assume it works on mild steel. In my tests, the charge only remained strong enough to etch about 6 inches from the source, in the above example, I had to turn my metal over after fifteen minutes to get both ends etched. A stronger power source might fix that, but I have not experimented. ALWAYS unplug your adapter before touching leads, metal, or solution.

What you need:
A glass or plastic container (ceramic is also fine, just no metal)
An alligator clip (this is not strictly necessary, but will make you life easier)
A 9V AC/DC converter. (You may have this around the house- my computer speakers were running off one. If not, order something like this:
https://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10001&pa=236937&productId=236937 ) If you're ordering it, order an alligator clip while you're at it.
An outlet
some kind of resist (spray paint works, I'm looking for something better)
Something to scratch through the resist (I use a fancy printmaker's tool, but a needle shoved into an eraser works, too)

a sharp knife
some type of measuring spoon or cup

Start by mixing your solution
1. run warm water- this will make mixing in the salt easier
2. fill your container to whatever level you want it.
3. Mix in as much salt as will mix in without leaving a precipitate. If you're a measuring and numbers type, do about 1 part salt to ten parts water. Extra salt won't hurt, insufficient salt will hurt.

Now make your plug.
1-Using wire cutters, nip off the jack at the end of the cord- you won't need this.
2-With a sharp knife, make a notch in the thin plastic joining the two wires that were going into the jack.
3- Pull those two wires apart at least 18 inches down the cord
4-Using wirestrippers, expose about an inch at the end of each wire. If you don't have a good set of wirestripers, put the wire on a board, and roll it under the sharp knife, being careful not to apply so much pressure you cut the cord. Remember, you have plenty of length, here, so if you mess up, just cut off the end and try again.
5-most cords will not be marked negative and postive, so we'll just test it, now. Wrap each end of wire around a separate metal scrap (steel is cheap, but copper, brass, whatever you have around is fine)
6- put both pieces of scrap into your solution, taking care to make sure your wire leads are not dipped, and makeing sure that there is no direct contact bwtween the two leads or the two pieces of metal.
7-plug in your adapter. One piece of metal will have bubbles coming out of it, the other one is being etched. Take note of which is which, and unplug you adapter. Mark the wires.
8-Wrap the end that had the bubbles coming out of it securely around a piece of scrap metal. It does not have to be the same metal you're going to etch, but it does have to conduct electricity. Steel, copper, brass are all fine. If you can, drill a hole in the scrap and pass the wire through that, so you know you have a really strong connection.
9- attach the alligator clip to the other end. Depending on your clip, this may involve crimping or wrapping. If you don't have an alligator clip, wrap that end securely around a longish piece of copper wire. If you have to keep wrapping and unwrapping your original wire from each piece you etch, you will quickly break it.

Now you're ready to etch!
1- etch before you cut you metal down to size. This will allow someplace to clip. There are two ways to finish from here, method a and method b (and an infinite amount of other methods, but come on)
2a- Cover you entire piece, front back and sides, with resist. Allow to dry
3a- Scratch through this surface whatever design you desire.
4a- This will allow thin lines, legible text and a lot of control. The lines you scratched will etch.
2b- Cover the back and edge of your piece with resist
3b- Paint a design on the front with resist
4b- All the areas not painted will etch. This provides an interesting texture and allows for large, bold designs
5- Once resist has thoroughly dried, clip an edge of the metal with your alligator clip, or wrap the whole piece in your spare copper wire.
6- place the metal gently in the salt water solution, making sure that all areas you want to etch are under the surface. Try to keep the alligator clip out of the solution, otherwise it will etch, too.
7- place the scrap at the other end of the adapter in the solution, not touching the metal you wish to etch. Try to keep you wire lead out of the water.
8- plug in your adapter.
9- The first time you do this, check it in about five minutes. The etch will not be deep yet, just look and make sure your chosen resist is holding up. If any corners have pulled up, remove and try again.
10-if you know your resist works, check every fifteen minutes. Unplug the adapter before touching metal. Depending on the depth you desire, 15 minutes may well be long enough. Using a nail or something similar, gauge the depth of your etch.
11- Once deep enough, unplug your adapter, remove your metal, and clean off your resist (acetone works on spray paint)
12- Voila! You have etched metal

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Brownies: Chapter 16

From Borges-
"Brownies are helpful little men of a brownish hue, which gives them their name. It is their habit to visit Scottish farms and, while the household sleeps, to perform domestic chores. One of the tales by the Grimms deals with the same subject"

I've always thought of brownies as being a little grumpy. So this mask is both grumpy and elfin, with a little green thread thrown in as a reference to the best known of brownies- the ones that frequented a certain shoemaker's workshop.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Catoplebas: Chapter 19

Copper sheet, copper wire, nails
From Borges-
"At the close of the Temptation of Saint Anthony, Flaubert describes it and has it speak this way.... 'It wallows in the mud, and its legs are smothered under the huge mane of stiff bristles that hide its face' ... 'No one, Anthony, has ever seen my eyes; or else those who have seen them have died. If I were to lift my eyelids-mu pink and swollen eyelids- you would die on the spot."

This is the most terrifying mask I've ever made. It scared me a bit when I put it on. Because of the space between nails, the wearer can see out just fine, but you're hard pressed to see the creatures eyes through all that. He also makes the most amazing sound when you shake your head.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Basilisk: Chapter 14

Copper, Brass, and Broken Mirror
From Borges-
"Down through the ages, the Basilisk (also known as the Cockatrice) grows increasingly ugly and horrendous until today it is forgotten. It's name comes from the Greek and means "little king"; to the Elder Pliny (VIII, 33), it was a serpent bearing a brigh spot in the shape of a crown on its head. Dating from the Middle Ages, it became a four legged cock... What remains constant about the Basilisk is the deadly effect of its stare and its venom."

It wasn't till I was quite finished with this that I realized that the shape I cut out for the crown is quite precisely the little crown on the seat tube of my Independent Fabrications Crown Jewel. Apologies, IF, just know that I love my bicycle that much.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bahamut: Chapter 10

Copper, Raw Ruby, Jade

From Borges-
"A Moslem[sic] tradition runs: God made the earth, but the earth had no base and so under the earth he made an angel. But the angel had no base so under the angel's feet he made a crag of ruby. But the crag had no base and so under the crag he made a bull ... But the bull had no base and so under the bull he made a fish named Bahamut, and under the fish he put water, and under the water he put darkness, and beyond that men's knowledge does not reach."

And here's a close up of earth, the angel, and the crag, as they are all small.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Antelopes with Six Legs, Chapter 8

From Borges- "Siberian myth attributes six legs to the first Antelopes. With such an endowment it was difficult or impossible to catch them; Tunk-Poj,the divine huntsman, made some special skates with the wood of a sacred tree which creaked incessantly and that a barking dog had revealed to him. The skates creaked too and flew with the speed of an arrow; to control and restrain their course, he found it necessary to wedge into the skates some blocks made from the wood of another magic tree. All over heaven Tunk-Poj hunted the Antelope. The beast, tired out, fell to the ground, and Tunk-Poj cut off its hindmost pair of legs. 'Men' said Tunk-Poj, 'grow smaller and weaker every day. How are they going to hunt the Antelopes if I myself am barely able to?'. From that day on, Antelopes have been quadrupeds.

Friday, May 6, 2011

**Work in Progress** Antelopes with six legs

Lazy Man's Repousee
For the main antelope body, I wanted the lines to look like those in cave painting- quick, graceful, lively. In other words, not at all the way my lines look when I do traditional repousee. This wire and line technique is something I've used before, but for the purpose of making a score line to fold on, not as it's own design element. Still, it seemed like the only way to get the result I was looking for, and it ended up working out quiet nicely. I hammered onto a piece of soft wood so as not to thin the lines too much, and thus to keep the mask strong enough for wear.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

**Work in Progress** A Story told in made up petroglyphs

For Antelopes with six Legs (chapter 8) Borges Chose to tell a whole story- rather an anomaly in the book. Following suit, I, too, am telling hte whole story- in petroglyphs up, and then down, the antelope's two horns. Here's how I'm telling this:
1)The six legged antelopes graze in peace
2)The hunter finds them
3) The hunter gives chase
4) The Antelope is too fast, and escapes
5)A barking dog alerts the hunter to a magic tree
6) The hunter makes skates from the magic tree
7)the hunter finds the antelope again
8)The hunter is now fast enough
9)the hunter catches the antelope
10)The hunter cuts off the back two legs, in order to slow down future antelopes for future, slower hunters.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sketches for Antelopes with Six Legs (chapter 8)

Borges actually tells the whole story for this one, and so shall I. I started by looking up cave paintings, but quickly switched to petroglyphs, mostly to try to match techniques- I wanted these little vignettes etched into the surface of the mask, and that fits better with rock carving than with painting. Also, the story is set in Siberia, and, as far as I know, there's no cave paintings we've found up that way. I'm also not at all sure that there are, or have ever been, any antelope in Siberia, but I'm not questioning these things.
For this project, I am using The Book of Imaginary Beings as my primary source, and am not, under any circumstance, looking up anyone else's pictures/interpretations of any of the beasts. That doesn't mean i can't look up anything, though- I looked up petroglyphs of antelope, and I looked up siberian petroglyphs (I found a horse) and worked these invented ones from those sources.