Free class in Portland this October

I am excited to announce that I am offering a free mask class in collaboration with Rewild Portland!

Masks & Adornment:
A Rewild Portland Free Skills Series Class
Saturday, October 30, 2–4 pm, N. Portland, OR

The first half of the class will be a presentation on the history and cultural contexts of masks and ritual adornment from various cultures, with a particular focus on the animistic traditions that lie beneath Halloween and other rites of fall and winter. The second half of the class will be a hands-on adornment workshop with Ivy Stovall (Rewild Portland instructor and Echoes in Time kids program director).

Since this class will be the Saturday before Halloween, costume-wearing is strongly encouraged!

For more information or to register please visit Rewild Portland's 2021 free skills series page.

Giant mask for Krampuslauf - Part 3

Photo by Mark Graves/The Oregonian

The giant Perchta mask decided at the last minute to become a giant Baba Yaga mask! It came down to available costume pieces mostly--but also because my studio ceiling is far too low for assembling a mask with large antlers.

But I really like how this mask leaves a lot of room for possible variations of character, and think a horned or antlered Perchten version may still be realized at a later time.

Just a few more photos to share here, showing the addition of an extended neck-flange (paper mache over cardboard) to make the mask more stable and comfortable, and partway through the painting process (natural pigments with a water-resistant gelatin binder, since there was originally a chance of rain forecast on the night of the Krampuslauf). The teeth were carved by my son from wood, and the hair is cottonwood inner bark fiber collected from a nearby beach with fallen trees. No hot glue was used, only mechanical fastenings (sewing, tied cord, wood screws).

Giant mask for Krampuslauf - Part 2

Here's a preview of how the mask is looking so far! Things finally came together last night, but this mask has been a challenge this past week. Here are three things I will do differently next time.

Giant mask for Krampuslauf - Part 1

Krampuslauf (Krampus Night) is coming, and this time I decided I wanted to make a really big mask for Portland's annual procession of Krampus and Friends along SE Hawthorne Ave.

In addition to the large, over the entire head mask I am making being potentially much more impressive (terrifying) than the face mask I have worn in previous years, it also offers plenty of room inside to accommodate coronavirus PPE.

Pictured above is the mask-making progress from the past four days. The character is kind of a composite Perchta/Baba Yaga/Winter Crone concept, and she will likely carry a 6' long birch twig broom to sweep away the old year (good riddance!) as well as to serve as a social distancing reminder/reinforcement.

Natural pigment paint binders

Over the past 5 years I have spent a lot of time trying to mix up the "perfect" natural paint. But all paint binders have their pluses and minuses. And a binder that is great for watercolor paintings may not work well for mask-making, where flexibility and moisture-resistance are of great importance.

Another factor to consider is how easy the paint is to work with. For example, an oil based-paint that is slow to dry and difficult to clean up may not be ideal for a children's mask-making class.

This document shares some of the paint binders I have been using. There is no one "perfect" binder here, but I hope the information will help you narrow things down if you are ready to paint your mask (or other art project) with natural paints but have been wondering what to use.

Curly masquerade mask revisited

 I've been using biodegradable materials to recreate another one of my old synthetic-materials masks designs. This picture shows the results of mixing natural polymer starch with a recycled paper pulp material: