I had in mind to do another large bearded mask, based on the “Goderic” design around the nose and mouth and the beard itself, but with a different structure for the eyes and top of the head.
This basic design has been through many permutations, but most of the variations had been in the layout of the beard. I wished to attack this model from another direction. I thought the piece “Spirit” had enough points of similarity around the area of the eyes and upper cheeks that I might manage to graft the top of one design to the bottom of the other.
It wouldn’t necessarily be a clean graft, since there are still many points of divergence that will need to be reconciled, but I wanted to give it a shot. I’ve taken some pictures at various steps of the process.
The first step is the paper. This is a big mask – 96 pleats in width. I want the pleats to be at least 4.5 cm. wide so I’ve begun with a piece of elephant hide paper 45 cm. across. To get 96 pleats, you first divide the paper in thirds longitudinally, and then begin dividing the divisions in half again and again, accordion fold style (3 parts divided by 2 equal 6 parts, divided by 2 equals 12 parts, then 24 parts, 48 parts, 96 parts).
The red mess is a prototype for the Goderic design that I will be using as a guide for most of the folding. It’s been folded and unfolded several times to try out different combinations of creases which is why it looks so rough, but there is enough information in this piece to help me with my new design.
The trick to stitching parts of two different designs together is to identify which elements must be done a certain way, and which can be modified. Then you start with the bits that have to be done exactly, and sort of “fill in the blanks” around them.
The eyes from Spirit and the nose from Goderic both have very definite structures. The cheeks of both have more flexibility in how they can be done. So I need to fold the eyes and the nose first and then try to fill in the other areas. Fortunately, the base of the nose and the space between the eyes for both designs are similar, so I can segue from Spirit’s eyes to Goderic’s nose with little difficulty (The eyes are a little closer together in Spirit than in Goderic, but I can make adjustments). I fold the necessary and invariable parts first, then I will have to improvise for the cheekbones and around the outside of the eyes.
Here I’ve filled in the area of the cheek down to where the mouth will begin. I’ve been working on one side only until I figure out the design, Once I’m satisfied that it will work, I can do the same thing on the other side.
You can see here about how much of the paper I’ve worked through by this point. Unfortunately, shortly after I took this picture, I discovered that I had made a small but crucial error in folding the bottom of the nose. I had deviated by a single crease at a point above the nostril. It was a small mistake but at a point in the design that would not tolerate any deviation at all.
Then finally the folding is done! But the work is not. You see in the upper left hand corner of this picture, a spray bottle. The next step may be the trickiest. To get the mask into proper shape I use the sprayer to moisten the paper, then manipulate the form of the mask as the paper dries. The water softens the sizing in the paper. When the paper dries, the sizing resets in the new configuration, holding the shape I give to the paper. This is the idea behind wet-folding, although wet-folding usually involves dampening the paper and then folding it, I fold the paper and then wet it. I would not be able to fold the mask at all if the paper was too soft since the technique requires a certain amount of resistance from the paper.
So I spray the paper just enough to get it damp but not sopping wet. A large mask like this I’ll do only a part of the model at a time. The paper expands and tries to unfold when it gets wet, so I have to keep at it, holding the structure together, refolding creases and molding the shape until the piece is dry again. This part requires constant and uninterrupted attention or the hours of folding I just completed will be undone. This is the result. Looks good, but I’m still not done. There will be shellacking and painting and maybe some other things to make this piece look as good as possible. So stay tuned for the next installment: Finishing a Mask, wherein I will do just that.
The last batch moved pretty fast. I can’t complain, but it sure is making it hard to keep up.
I’ve got four new masks now:
Some old favorites and variations. I’ve mostly been experimenting with surfaces – transparency and textures, mixing pigments with different media to try and get interesting effects.
I’ve got more projects in the pipeline so it shouldn’r be too long before the next batch is ready to share.
After a busy period with various non-origami concerns and not much to blog about, I’ve finally got some new pieces available at my Etsy shop.
Sylvanus and Caliban you might recognize. They are designs that I’ve been tweaking for a while and these are the latest iterations. There will probably be more since I can’t seem to leave these designs alone. Faunus is an all new design. I’ve been working lately on some smaller models; trying to get more expression out of less paper. My models seem to have been getting bigger and bigger and more and more complicated so Faunus is an attempt to downscale a little bit.
Summer is the big season for exhibitions and there are a few coming up that I have the privilege of participating in.
The first is “Surface to Structure”, an origami exhibition at the Cooper Union (no relation) in New York.
Cooper Union was the site of the first origami exhibition in the U.S. back in 1959, featuring some of the greatest origami artists of the time. The exhibition this year promises several big names in contemporary origami and some of the most beautiful origami artwork around. The show will run from June 19th to July 4th and is free and open to the public, so if you’re in New York you should definitely check it out.
I’m currently preparing work for two shows coming up in August.
The Origami Museum of Zaragoza in Spain (the first and as far as I know only museum in Europe dedicated to origami) rotates exhibitions every two months or so (They’ve just wrapped up a retrospective of Akira Yoshizawa). I’m planning on contributing a few pieces for the August exhibition.
Also in August there will be a showing at the Michael Good Gallery in Rockport, Maine. I will be sharing space with jewelry artist Sarah Doremus and sculptor Greg Pinto. This should be an interesting venue for me since it will be the first time since the local art festival more than a decade ago that my work will be shown not as part of an origami exhibition. It should be interesting to see how it is accepted alongside artwork of other media.
So for the next couple of months you won’t be seeing much in my online shop as all my efforts will be directed toward creating new work for these shows.
At least for now.
I’ve finally finished some new pieces that I can post for sale in my Zibbet shop.
Naga and Goliath are two new variations based on a design that I’ve used for models like Asterius and others, a design I’ve been playing around with since 2009 (you can see the germ of it here). The design is based on a grid oriented horizontally rather than vertically, which is a surprisingly challenging.
I revisited an early design for Aelfred as well – Poseidon here from back in the day – another model I’ve always liked, but which still had some design issues I wanted to address. I like how they’ve been reconciled with Aelfred. For one thing, angry Poseidon can finally shut his mouth!
Ben Parker, an artist whom I’ve mentioned before, has started a kickstarter to help fund an exhibition of his new work. You can learn more about it and maybe kick in a few bucks here. At this moment he is about a third of the way to his goal.
Ben continues to push the boundaries of origami by a sort of cross-pollination with photography. A traditional “photogram” (as opposed to a photograph) is created by placing objects on a piece of photosensitive paper and exposing the whole to light, thereby preserving an image of the objects’ shadows. Ben has eliminated the object and instead folds the photosensitive paper in a darkroom, then exposes the origami to light. The paper thereby takes a picture of itself. It’s all very existential somehow. I’ve never heard of anyone doing anything quite like this, and I kinda wish I had thought of it myself.
So even if you won’t be able to make it to Connecticut for the exhibition you can donate some money to defray the various expenses and receive a piece of original art for your very own.
Two new masks in my Zibbet shop:
and the Prophet
Well I had some unexpected traffic from ThisIsColossal and Laughing Squid and other websites at the same time that I decided to have a seasonal sale. Everything sold out. I did not expect that. Since there has been so much interest I wanted to have at least a couple more masks available before sale ended and although I’ve been folding like a madman lately, I have not been able to do as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I did manage to finish these two, and though the sale was supposed to end Monday I’ve decided to offer both at reduced prices for a little while longer.
Courtesy of Metafilter, I was introduced to the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Iowa’s tumblr. Go there! Click on that link! You think an archival library must be a sombre and boring place – just see for yourself. See flying squirrels! Teeny tiny books with their own teeny tiny bookstands! How about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as illustrated by Salvador Dali! And so much more!
(They have lots of cool gifs and other surprises there too)