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’ .

 

A direction to head in and a sculpture challenge

Blocks of Jelutong wood ready and waiting to be made into sculptures and masks over the next week
Blocks of Jelutong wood ready and waiting to be made into….

I have always had trouble deciding on which direction I want my art to go in, actually that’s not strictly true. Other people have always told me I have trouble deciding what to do, that I am indecisive. I feel that I have only had trouble since I left uni, when I was there I hit on a direction and whole heartedly went with it. It was quite personal work based around me and my feelings and my confidence and I was not sure that I wanted to continue along that line afterwards. I backed away from basing my work around myself completely and have spent years trying to figure out what to do instead…which mostly ended up being nothing…I have finally come to the conclusion that I have no other choice, I have to do that which is inside of me, I have to have some personal meaning in my work. Well at least in a part of my work I have to satisfy that urge, scratch that itch if you like. It may sound like an almost trivial decision but it has taken me a long time to reach that conclusion.

One thing that I have realised recently is that although I have said since I was small that I wanted to be a sculptor I had never actually worked out what kind of sculpture I wanted to do, what material, what theme, what area, no specific detail. Looking back I feel that may be due to it being frowned upon, even in a creative family, and I didn’t rebel enough to just go and do it so I was feeling unfulfilled for a long time but doing nothing about it and not even working out what I really wanted.

The work I produced for my degree show was sculptural, more sculptural than the tutors on my course liked, but after that I just seemed to let it dwindle away. And once I took over the frame carving business it seemed to disappear altogether as I had other things right in front of me that needed to be dealt with first, namely making work that would be guaranteed to be paid for, work on commission.

I have over the past few years realised that something is missing, I don’t feel right, there is more that I want and need to do. I have never stopped having ideas, nor being inspired, nor coming up with things to make yet I have never really pursued any of them. I am very good at setting up my own barriers and stopping myself moving forwards, after all being right where I am is quite nice and comfortable and not at all scary or anything.

But the time has come to change that, I need for my soul to sing, I need to give myself a good hard shove out of my comfort zone and see where I end up. Up till now I have done that quite gently by trying different things, Netsuke, portrait sculpture, life drawing, corset making, latex clothing, chainsaw carving, but I haven’t really shared all that much with anyone, as I’ve not been sure where I’m headed I’ve just done it for myself.

And I have discovered that I have trouble finishing things that are done just for me, well if you don’t finish it you can’t show it to anyone can you? Commissioned frames I do not have trouble with, they are always finished on deadline. And I also got into the habit of if I did decide to share something I was trying I would not start talking about it until I knew it was going to work out. All things that I need to work on, and I have made a start by posting my life drawing when it was half way through and I didn’t know how it would turn out, you can see the first part here and the second part here. Yes I finished it and I shared it and even though it was a scary experience no puppies have died and nothing bad has happened…I think I may well do it again…in fact I am going to do it again, hence this post.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out answers to my own questions of direction and what kind of sculpture I want to make and I feel that I finally have some inkling of where I am going to start. I have realised that I can only choose a starting point and see where it takes me, I cannot plan out the whole thing, I cannot guess where I’m going to end up. Attempting to do that is what has caused me to not even start in the past. I have to concentrate on the now and trust that it will lead to somewhere and not try to work out that end point. The only thing that I do know is that I would like it to be some form of sculpture, although there is no actual guarantee that it will end up as such.

The starting point I have decided on is my fascination with faces, and people, and their bodies, and personalities, and emotion, and how much you cannot tell about someone just by looking at them, the things that are hidden, the things that cannot be seen. I am not quite sure how this will manifest itself, but I am going to give myself the starting point of exploring this by looking at masks…..

I have devised myself a challenge, something to get me making and finishing work and all to a set time deadline. For the next 5 days I will make one piece per day, based around the emotions and feelings I am having on the day. I will get each piece to a finished state in that day and then I will share it with you. At this time I have no real idea what size I will be making the pieces, I’m guessing I will find out what I can do in the time that I have available as I still have other work to do as well. The woodchips (my newsletter) readers will get to see the finished result first on the morning of the following day and then I will post here on the blog in the afternoon. I may well be posting sneak peeks of the pieces as I work on them on instagram and twitter. If you would like to be among the first to see what I am up to then please do sign up to get woodchips in your inbox here.

I am really excited about this and so looking forward to it, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I only decided to do this late last week. I have some pieces of wood on standby to give me some choice of size and shape (you can see some of them in the photo in this post). It’s going to be a busy week but I know that it will be worth it. I cannot wait to meet the pieces I am going to make. I do hope that you will come along with me….

 

 

 

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’ .

 

A carved wood George and Dragon for St George’s Day

Carved wood and silver gilded George and Dragon by Norbert Stiller, my dad
‘George and Dragon’ by Norbert Stiller (my dad) carved wood and silver gilded.

 

Just a little something to share as it is St George’s Day today.

My dad, Norbert Stiller, carved this as a part of his diploma when he was, I think, 16. He said that he had an argument with his tutor about it as he didn’t want to gild it but the tutor made him. I have no idea what wood was used.

It stands about 4 feet tall to the tip of the spear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

It’s amazing what you can find at your local supermarket

robert koenig sculpture new romney
Robert Koenig sculpture celebrating 1000 years of sheep on Romney Marsh

 

I popped to my local Sainsury’s yesterday to pick up a couple of bits and was both surprised and pleased to find this wood sculpture outside the front door.

It is by Robert Koenig and has been made to commemorate over 1000 years of sheep farming on Romney Marsh. There are a lot of sheep around here!

There has been a lot of artwork appearing around the marsh recently which is due to Briony Kapoor and the IMOS Foundation.

 

Do you have any artworks by your local supermarket?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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