It will clog your pipes and ruin your plumbing faster than eating 10kg of cheese at one sitting.
First published in the March 2012 Scene issue “Projects, people and places”.
I had long felt drawn to work with my hands and make masks but had never had any training in the matter. I had read and re-read the basics of the techniques in Thurston James’s The Prop-Builder’s Mask-Making Handbook like a child drooling at the window of a candy store but until I gathered up my courage to seek out one more expert than I, it remained only a wish. Then I found myself in residence as a puppeteer at Atlanta’s Centre for Puppetry Arts. I had some down-time in the theatre and wandered into the puppet-builder’s shop. Lucky for me, the mad genius in the shop was a very helpful and generous sort and allowed me a corner of his table to begin my experiments. That was all it took to set my artistic life and career on a new path. I still am no expert by any means. But even his minimal support and encouragement started me on a path that led to much more than a newly acquired skill. It set the foundation for a major aspect of my work and life as an artist.
My strength is not as a visual artist so I don’t generally sketch out my masks first. So don’t let that stop you either. You never know what might work for you, despite your ideas about your limitations. I have to get the clay in my hands and start with a basic idea or a stimulus I have found which I can reference, form the mask in three dimensions and follow where my impulses take me.