Sculpture Challenge Day 3 – when is a mask not a mask?

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, front view
Day 3 – finished jelutong mask, front view

If a mask has no holes for the wearer to see through is it still a mask?

This is the dilemma I am facing with today’s sculpture due to the way I wanted the eyes to look…but I am getting off track a little.

Day three was a day full of frustration and just ugh for me and the way I wanted to show that was through squinty, screwed up eyes…..easy to draw and not so easy to carve! It seems to be all about the eyes at the moment. I am not thinking too hard about it, just trying to go with my gut and follow the flow.

It took me a while to hit the right feeling with the drawing, but once I got there I knew that that was what I wanted. I do find it amusing how suddenly something just jumps out at me. I always know that if I don’t 100% know which sketch to pick I haven’t come up with the right sketch yet and so have to keep on drawing.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 mask sketches
A variety of feelings and sketches to decide between.

 

The only difference I made at the start was to remove some of the excess wood with the bandsaw so I had less to remove by hand. As I had a very good idea of the overall shape of what I wanted I felt confident to do that where I had been more unsure on other days.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bandsaw cuts to remove the excess wood
At the start I used the bandsaw to cut the outline and remove some of the excess wood from the overall shape.

 

I knew that I wanted a pretty bold and simplistic design full of curves, so it was easy to follow the sketched lines to remove the wood straight away.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, cut on the sketched lines to place the nose and eyes
Placing the eyes and nose was done very early on.

 

Sometimes I can see my way around a design really well in my head before I start working, those pieces always seem to go quicker as the decisions are already waiting for me. I am trying to match what is in front of me with the image in my head. When I can’t see the three dimensional shape so well in my head before I start it takes me longer as I have to make more decisions on the fly. And sometimes even if I can see it in my head I may still change things as I work depending on how I feel it is going.

The nose was something I was not so sure that I actually wanted, it appeared in the sketch but I wasn’t sure that it would be right on the sculpture. I decided to put it in as I knew that I could always take it out again if I changed my mind. You can always take more wood away but it’s pretty difficult to put it back on again if you change your mind.

One decision that had to be made was how deep in to push the bridge of the nose, I knew that pushing it in more would help the effect of the wrinkling of the eyes, but I didn’t want to push it in too far. I think I hit a good compromise. Though I would like to carve it a few more times just to try out some of the variations .

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bridge of nose at the beginning
The bridge of the nose was quite forward to start with.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bridge of nose carved deeper
When the bridge of the nose is carved deeper it looks better to me.

 

I found the eyes really interesting to carve, trying to get those few strokes on the paper into the third dimension was a challenge. I do love how they have turned out. I made sure that they are carved around to the back so that they look like a ball. I’m not sure they are squinty enough but I do love them.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, the eyes are square to the back
To start with the eyes are square near the back, which does not look as good from the front.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, rounding the eyes to the back, side view
The eyes look rounder from the front if they are rounded towards the back of the sculpture.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, rounding the eyes to the back
Looking from the top you can see the rounding of the eyes much better

 

Back to that dilemma…I have not carved out the back of the sculpture as there was no way to open out the eyes so you could see through them so I felt that it was not right to carve it into a thinner outer. So for the moment I have left it as is. I will think on it a bit more before I make a final decision. I have left it without colour as I feel that for this sketch I want to see the form more than anything else.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, left side view
Day 3 – mask in jelutong, left side view

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, right side view
Day 3 – mask in jelutong, right side view

 

I am very pleased with today’s sculpture and again I can see an awful lot of ways forward from here. And I am so chuffed that these sculptures are sparking off so many new ideas. The fact that it is different to the other days’ work pleases me no end, for some reason I never expected that!

 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring…

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .