nibelung mask

    It began as something else (as is often the case – see previous post), but as folding progressed, a distinct character other than that intended began to emerge. To me, it looks like an ill-tempered dwarf, perhaps one who’s magic ring has just been stolen by some Rhenish pipsqueak with a fancy sword. I could call this one “Alberich”-  or I could go with another surly dwarf in another story about a magic ring, and call him “Gimli”. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I would actually sit through fifteen hours of Wagnerian bombast to get my inspiration, so maybe I’ll go with Gimli on this one.

nibelung detail

Shrewd observers might notice the similarities in this design to the previous post, “Mephistopheles”, especially around the mouth and mustache.  Gimli here did evolve directly from Meffy, which was done primarily as a beard study to solve some technical challenges with integrating a full beard with a simple mouth.  A lot of pleats to coordinate; the origamic equivalent of corraling cats. I try to make it seem as if I am completely in control of the paper when I fold these things, but that is not at all the case. Just making a nose or an eye is easy. Much of the work in designing these things is figuring out how in heck do you get all folds that come from these seperate elements to work together when you put a nose and two eyes and a mouth, etc., in close proximity to each other. At some point, I’m not telling the paper what to do anymore – it’s telling me. But that’s really the fun part. I’m not the only creator involved; the paper is there too, and when it works, it works because we are working together. That’s fun!

Further beard studies along the same basic design as Gimli led to his close cousin, whom I have called the “Green Man”.green man

Although it has been suggested (Thank you, Christiane), and it is consistent with the unofficial Tolkien theme herein, that he may be an Ent. I don’t know the names of any Ents, so I still don’t know what to call him (I’ll confess that I’ve never read Lord of the Rings – while I’m at it, I’ll confess that I’ve never sat for more than a few minutes of the Nibelungenlied either, but that doesn’t stop me from naming the other mask “Alberich”, as if I know what the heck I’m talking about).

   The eyes, nose and mustache are basically the same, but I’ve called in a tessellation pattern of hex twists and opened iso-hex twists to act as beard. Don’t worry if the above description makes no sense, I don’t know any good descriptive terms for the techniques used to make that tessellation; that may have to be the subject for a future tutorial on this blog.

   The Green Man, by the way, is currently on the virtual auction block at eBay. Do a search for “origami mask” and you’ll find it. You’ll also find a little glassine mask, images of which may be seen on my Flickr site as well. Keep watching eBay and you will find more of my pieces becoming available in the near future. I had been preparing in the last couple of months for a local annual art show, which last year provided an unexpected but very timely source of exposure and income. This year’s show was cancelled due to thunderstorms (an outdoor event in Kansas, in May, and no provisions for inclement weather – go figure). Oh, well. The northeast Kansas origami artwork collectors’ loss (a niche market, to be sure) is the world wide origami artwork collectors’ gain (you could say that I’m bumping it up a niche). The pieces that I prepared for sale locally (complete with protective polyurethane coating against the possibility of rain) will be made available globally. Long live the internet!

2 thoughts on “Nibelung

  1. I just read an article on your masks that will be in the Heights here in Houston. I’m out of town so will not be able to visit – I am so disappointed. I’m fascinated by your work. I’ve long collected theatre masks which are in varied materials from leather to fabric to feathers and combinations of all. I’ve never seen work like yours and admire it. Is Tansu here going to carry more of your work or is there another place to see them personally? Thanks


  2. Unfortunately, I do not at present have a regular venue for showing my work in person. All of my current work has gone to Tansu and all of the masks have already sold there, but a large number of flat tessellations are still there and as of this date still available and you can see them there anytime. The Origami Festival went wonderfully well, and Tansu is a great place – Van and I are talking about the possibility that I might send new pieces to Tansu after the festival (as soon as I get some new pices finished) as a regular venue for displaying and selling my work.


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