Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I have been working on the antlers for my deer mask for the past several months, in particular on attaching them in something less than a ridiculous manner. In my mind, a deer mask is largely an excuse for a human to wear antlers, so the antlers must look good. If the antlers look "off" the whole mask will look wrong.

(Gratuitous cute pic alert!!) I started making my antlers by tracking down this set of real whitetail antlers in the wilds of eBay. Whitetail antlers in particular are more on a human scale, as opposed to say, mule deer or fallow deer antlers, which can be huge. I made a paper mache version of these antlers by taking a positive cast of them in Celluclay. (For more about this method, see this post here.)

I also needed plenty of reference photos, for which this book (found on the clearance table at a local bookstore) was my main source. The picture on the cover is particularly helpful. (Gratuitous factoid alert- I also learned from this book that antlers are the fastest known growing tissue in the animal kingdom, growing at a rate of half an inch a day.)

And here we have the first attempt to attach the cast Celluclay antlers to the mask. If you compare this photo with the photo on the book above, you can see that the two short tines in the center of the rack are too short, spaced too widely and make too much of a "V" shape. You can also see that the two main beams are too horizontal. In the reference pic above, the beams are more vertical and have a gentle, shallow "C" shape.

Attempt number two. Here the beams are more upright and starting to take on some of that "C" shape, but the tips are too close together, nearly meeting over the center of the mask while on the real deer, the tips line up roughly with the middle of the ears. The ink sketch superimposed over the photocopy demonstrates this.

Attempt number three. The two middle tines have been lengthened and straightened, and the right hand antler has the "C" shape I've been trying for. However, two of the tines of the left hand antler are too short and straight, and something very funky is going on with middle of the beam. The photocopy/ink sketch of the top view shows that the curve of the beam needs to be tightened, and the end needs to move forward.

Attempt number four. I've lengthened and curved those two short straight tines on the left hand antler. I've also started to tighten the curve of the beam of the left hand antler, particularly towards the back of the mask, but in doing so I have once again moved the tip of the antler too close to the center of the mask. As the top view photocopy/ink sketch shows, it needs to be moved out again, and perhaps shortened.

And, here is the mask in its current state. At this point I'm happy with the overall look of the antlers, though the left hand antler has some weird lumpiness going on that needs to be addressed. Next I need to define and refine the mask's overall texture. Then, off to the moldmaker!

(Gratuitous factoid alert- on a trip to Wikipedia to check that my antler terminology above was correct, I learned it is now believed antlers act as parabolic reflectors, vastly improving the hearing of their wearers. I'm not kidding. We'll see if paper mache antlers can do the same!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Open Studio Wrap Up

The Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Weekend is over and done for another year! I enjoyed meeting all the visitors to my studio, artists and families and customers alike.

The above is a photo of me that appeared in the Sunday, May 3o edition of the Times Argus for Open Studio Weekend. (Looks like the clay sketches are thinking about taking on the photographer.) There was also an interview with me about Open Studios in the May 20th edition of the Montpelier Bridge, you can read it here: http://www.montpelierbridge.com/May20-10Bridge_1-14.pdf (You'll have to cut and paste this address into your browser, as this link is giving Blogger fits. My interview is on page 6.)

And yes, of course... the winner of this year's Mask Giveaway was Richard Andrecen of Hinesburg, VT! Congratulations! The mask is already on its way!