Library Research on Masks

During the Magical Object’s field project I have found a few boooks from the library that have helped me with designing and creating my own masks. Each book gave me an idea for creating my own work whether it was inspired by the shape of the masks, the texture or the bright colours. Below is a list of the books that I have looked at throughout the weeks and what I enjoyed and learnt from looking at them.

Mask Art of Mexico

In this book what I really enjoyed was the variety of masks that resembled humans as well as animals. In a lot of the mask books I had looked at there were quite a few that resembled human form but in a much more abstract way. In this book there was a more clear view of the human face in a lot of the masks which I found to look quite expressive. A lot of the traditional dance masks of Mexico can look to be quite expressive as in some masks may have slits where the wearers eyes can be seen as the eyes of the mask. I think this can be quite effective since the mask is obviously made of hard materials and doesn’t move so the only thing seeen to be moving are the eyes. Looking through this book as well a lot of the masks resemble male features. Another aspect of the masks that I enjoyed from this book were looking at the different textures and colours.

Masks of Black Africa

In this book I found the masks to be a lot less human like and a lot more scary to look at. These kinds of masks look to be made with a much heavier material then other masks I had looked at and also a lot less appealing to the eye in some cases. Looking through this book reminded me of the David Attenborough documentary we watched during one of the Magical Objects lectures where he’d gone to visit tribes that created masks from tree branches. Watching the documentary really opened my eyes to the cultural aspect behind making masks like this. One of the pieces made was a wooden statue of a woman who had recently passed from old age. The statue one of the men had made was to resemble her but had young breast so that they would remember her from a time where she was in her prime almost. I thought this was a very interesting concept and the man then spent three days carving the piece until it was finished. What I took from this was that they were creating a wooden piece in honour of the woman and celebrating the life she had. This is very different from how we deal with deaths around us as it’s less of a celebration of life but more pointed toward grieving over the loss.


Bugaku Masks

In this book I found the masks to be very different from the other masks I had looked at. Like the masks from the ‘Masks of Black Africa’ book they are not the prettiest and have very angry expressive faces. What really caught my attention about these mask through were that in some of them parts of the mask were able to move. In on of the photos above, it shows how they use string to make the jaw of the mask lose and free to move. I think this is a very different concept of mask making as I have never seen this been done before.


Bethe, M. and Nishikawa, K. (1978). Bugaku masks. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd. and Shibundo.

Lechuga, R., Sayer, C. and Lavender, D. (1995). Mask arts of Mexico. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, pp.18-19, 22-23, 50-51, 58-59.

Segy, L. (1976). Masks of Black Africa. New York: Dover Publications.



Life Drawing through Figurative Modelling


Through out the past five weeks of life drawing with Pip and Natasha I think I have slowly but surely been able to capture the figure in many different ways. After the first few hours of the sessions I think that in my drawings I have retrieved the information and some times even proportion well. At the start of these sessions I didn’t really understand what retrieving the information meant. But after focusing in I think what is meant by this is to document the main shapes of the body. For example, the main curves in the body, the shapes in which the limbs and torso are creating and also making sure the point of balance can be seen in each drawing. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about these life drawing sessions is looking ta the way the shadows can help with showing the point of balance. When using shading to show parts of the body and ground that are shadowed I think this helps to give the view of the drawing an idea of which wash the light is hitting the model which can also so which way the model is leaning and where the pressure maybe be.


Another interesting part of the life drawing was taking time to hold the pose and feel what the model was feeling. Where the pressures were on parts of the body from holding anposition for so long. I found holding the positions that Pip were holding very difficult as you had to find ways to spread the weight of your body instead of putting all the pressure onto one hand or leg. Thinking about how Pip held herself in the life drawing poses also helped me when drawing from her as I was thinking about how she was spreading her weight and how she was holding herself.


This idea of thinking also helped me with the Ceramic side of the life drawing as I had to find ways to spread the weight of the Ceramic figure with out it falling over. I had to look at Pip and the way she was holding herself to try and figure of ways I could use the clay to creat a three dimensional replica of Pip.

one part of this that I did find difficult was trying to find a way to create a skin texture on the clay. In the end I went for using the texture on my thumb but even then I think I could have found better ways to create the skin texture.

Over all I think that these life drawing sessions have really helped me look at the human body in different ways. Also taking time to become the model also made me think differently on how I can show the point of balance.






Fabrics and Slip with Gemma Wilde

In the workshop that I did with Gemma we looked at fabrics and slip. In this workshop I took a small sweater and a pair of tights to use with the slip and try to find ways to manipulate it in to shapes. My first idea was to just get my hands dirty and dip the entire sweater into the Ceramic slip. After I did this I then took the sweater and started to stuff it with pieces of newspaper to be able to give the illusion of it actually being on someone. I then went back in with slip and a applied it to parts of the sweater that I didn’t think were covered enough with a paint brush. After this stage I then put a hanger into the sweater and hung it up to dry whilst I tried to manipulate the shape. What I decided to do was to peg the sleeves together so that it looked as if it was someone crossing their arms. After the slip had dried a little I unclipped the pegs and the arms were able to hold the position with out the help of the clips.

After this first part I then decided I wanted to give the sweater a pair of legs so I used the tights to do this. I did the same technique I did the first time round where I dipped the tights into the slip first and stuffed them wth newspaper after. I then went back in on some areas with slip and a paint brush where I thought more slip was needed. I decided that I didn’t want to add large amounts of slip because I wanted the material of the tights to give the legs a skin like texture. After this I then tied the tights up instead of the sweater and around the hanger an dodged the left leg to the front of the sweater and the right leg to the back of the sweater. Doing this I thought would give the slip piece the illusion of walking.

What I  really enjoyed about this workshop was how different it was to the other two I had participated in. I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty with the slip and trying to mould a figure out of it. It was a lot more difficult then I thought it would be and sometimes very temperamental with the slip not drying very fast but it made me think of ways I could use objects around me to help create the illusion of walking and also ways I could use the fabrics to create textures.


What I think I could improve on for next time would to maybe use a different material to the sweater. Because of the thickness of the sweater it was unable to soak up the slip which I think may have helped more with the Modelling of it. Also I could speed up the drying process using some sort of heat gun or hair dryer and this way I might be able to get the desired positions I wanted.

As far as using this kind of method for my subject I think what I defiantly want to take from this and use for my work is the tights and the slip to create texture. I really like the effect the tights made with the slip and think that this could be a very interesting way to leave a skin like texture on Ceramic pieces.



Direct Modelling of Feet with Natasha Mayo


One of my favourite workshops to do was the direct Modelling with Natasha. In this workshop we were all given a large piece of terracotta clay and using only our hands we were able to craft a foot out of a egg shape.

The first part of this workshop consisted of us creating an Easter egg shape out of the terracotta and using the fleshy part of our hands we pressed into the clay to create what will be the cure under the foot. After this we then started to creat the basic shape of the foot taking away parts of clay from the top to create the flatter part of the top of the foot. We then started to map out where the toes would be oth the foot and because to cut these out using small tools and also our nails. After this I then moved onto shaping the ankle a bit more and using a tool I removed a chunk of clay where the ankle is which would help if I were to add a leg onto the foot. After I had shaped the toes I then began to take away parts of the clay at the bottom of the foot were the toes would be.

I was really surprised with how well my foot turned out. I think it was a very realistic representation of what a foot looks like and I think I captured some of the detail quite well for my first attempt. I also really like the way the foot curves underneath.

if I were to do this again, what I could improve on would be to spend a bit more time moulding the ankle. From a Birdseye view the ankle looks really good but it’s you look at it from the side it looks very swollen and not shaped at all. Next time I will make sure not to neglect this side of the foot and to make sure to take a step back and look at every angle of the piece before deciding I’m finished as this was not something I noticed until after the clay had hardened.


Over all I am really impressed with the outcome of this. I think for my subject I was to find a way to incoperate clay into what I am doing as I think this could look very effective with the ideas that I have after looking at Makiko Kudo’s piece.

Pinch Building Heads with Claire Curneen

One of the first Ceramic workshops I took part in for the Figurative Modelling field projects was with artist Claire Curneen. What we had to do in this workshop was using a pinching technique, build a head out of the clay with out using a mould. Before this workshop when creating Ceramic portraits I had always used face and head moulds. This technique was very new to me but doing it made me not only think about the amount of clay I was using but also the shape I was creating.

‘The first thing that I was really impressed with was that my head did not collapse from being too heavy or from the clay being too thin. I started by using slightly thicker chunks of clay around the base of this piece as I knew the neck area would be holding the most weight. As I started to build upwards I began to shape the head and figure out which part was the fron and the back. Once I had created the entire head I then began to take pieces of clay to bring out certain parts of the face like where the chin, nose and eyes were. I then started to use coil shapes pieces of clay to build up the chape of the nose and also the lips. Then using a tool I because to draw into the clay to make the features more prominent. For example instead of creating an eye from the clay I just drew the shape and some of the textures into the clay where the eye would have been. After doing this i then started to creat the ear shapes. I didn’t want to press to much into the clay because I really liked the pattern on the surface of this piece where you could see where I had joined each part of the clay together. I think this left a very interesting effect.

What I really enjoyed about this workshop was that building the Ceramic head using the pinch building technique really made enough me think more about what I was doing with the clay. It made me think of the direction in which I was shaping the clay, like going too wide around the perimeter of where the head is would be very hard to bring back in to seal at the top. And then by that point there would be a lot of clay which could then made the piece too heavy on cave in. The pressure in which i was joining the clay together, not enough pressure would create a weak join but too much pressure would cause the clay to become thin. And finally the thickness of the clay pieces I was doing, obviously I started thicker at the bottom so the neck would be stable enough to hold the weight of the clay but if I had continued up with the same thickness this could cause a lot of problems. For example, the piece caving in on its self, being too thick to dry before being put into the kiln etc.

I think this was a very successful first workshop for me and I am really pleased with the outcome. For next time I know that I can improve on the placement of some of the features and make sure to get them more in proportion.



Failed Field Final Piece

For my field project I wanted to create a final piece that could create all kinds of shadows when light was shone through. I wanted to create a piece using little playing cards that would be cut into shapes and have places that had been cut away for the light to reflect through. I created a draft/Practise piece before designing and creating the final piece but after experimenting with smaller versions I decided to try something else. The problem I had was the cards I was using were too small of a surface and because of this the shadows created were not very impressive. For the light is Colour field project the final piece I made in my group created all kinds of interesting patterns and shapes on the walls. I think what helped this was the larger surface areas and also because of the reflective mirrored card we had used as well. Because this mirrored card was at the bottom working as the flooring of the inside of the sculpture I think the light reflected off it really well and created a better reflection of the shadows. Another problem that I think effected the light being able to transport through the gaps was because the cards were not the exact same pattern it made it hard for light to pass through as it would pass through the first card and then be stopped by the second.

What I think I am going to do next for my field final piece is maybe move away from creating shadows and moving onto documenting them instead. One of the field projects I took part in called ‘Silhouetted Still Lives’ we created line drawings using the reflections of shadows onto paper with projectors and other light sources. I really enjoyed doing this and found the outcome to be very effective. I also want to interpret colour in to this also as light is Colour.

Formative Assessment – March 2017

Week 1 – Silhouetted Still Lives

Week 2 – Light is Colour

Week 3 – Illuminated

Week 4 – Panoramic Pinhole Camera

Looking Back on the Four Weeks of Field

Week 1 Artist – Susan Anderson

Week 2 Artist – Kate Gibb

Week 3 Artist – Anne Hardy

Week 4 Artist – Nancy A Breslin

Final Field Outcome Artist – Melanie Bowles