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Merimask's Ball Of Wax
(Or, "how I've found yet another way to spend more quality time with myself"
Operation "Raise The Bar" going swimmingly... 
9th-Jan-2012 07:36 am
I've been knocking myself out, making these augmented mixed-media masks...so far it's being a smashing success.  The cat below is still in my shop but drawing hits and visits every day.

The funny thing about raising the bar; it creeps into other aspects of my maskmaking. 
For example, this cat has wonderful whiskers made of nylon beading wire. I figured out a way to knot and cement them in place and they are so realistic...I don't know why I never tried it before.  My goggle customization is getting better too.  I found a way to use the actual clock gears on spindles that I dismantled from a broken old clock and they look much better than single gears...more layered and dimensional.

So I thought about it and realized that steampunk and tentacles go hand in hand (or...glove in...sucker-covered appendage...eww), so I made this guy below and called it "His Noodly Appendages".  Part tentacle mask, maybe a bit of Cthulu and Flying Spaghetti Monster thrown in for fun.

It was also a big success and sold out of my shop pretty quick.  I see places where I can improve it greatly...for example, the tentacles are too "fantasy", because real tentacles have neat rows of suckers instead of random ones.  Also, suckers are raised and not just recessed circles like the ones I tooled.

But I am a smart house ape and I've already figured out a new customization for the next version of this...which I plan to build today.  It's going to be stunning.  :)

My latest mask was also my favorite, and the best one so far.  I called it "Draco Temporis"...dragon of time.

I think I've finally found a perfect balance here between the mechanical and realistic elements.  It almost looks like an armored dragon to me.  The clock part embellishments throughout the whole design really made it dimensional and special.

My favorite part of this mask was the monocle-goggle.  I really am getting much better at customizing them.  I bought jeweler's magnification loops online; they're really quite inexpensive, but they come with very plain, ugly alligator clips (so you can attach them to a pair of regular glasses).  I removed that part, added spacers of various bits (to maintain spring tension so the arms would swing up and stay in position), added caps to the ugly plain arms, added an assemblage of various parts to cobble a custom "clamp", and there you go.  It's something you can't buy anywhere and it looks much more "Victorian" than the modern clip.  Most people online seem to use nothing more than a simple hose clamp to bind the loops to the goggle cap...I think this is less industrial-looking than that and MUCH more fun to make.

The first time I figured it out, it took a whole day.  But now I know what parts I need; I can build one in about 30 minutes.  Yay, ingenuity.  :)

I just sold "Draco"...I was actually very sad to box it up.  Usually I'm perfectly fine with letting the masks go, but this one was special.

So far, every single Steampunk "critter" mask I've made has gone viral on DevArt, almost within an hour of posting it.  I have almost 7,000 hits on "Draco" and it was never a Daily Deviation.  I've had over 4 million impressions on that design since Thursday.  All this free publicity can't be bad.

Taking things to the next level, here. 

9th-Jan-2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
This isn't what you were talking about when you said you were going to raise the bar before, though, when we were talking on the phone. Did you abandon that idea in favour of goggles? The goggles add a new dimension, for sure, but the other seemed like it had a much larger range of application, not restricted to steampunk. (Steampunk really isn't my thing, so I guess I'm just more eager to see what you do with the other idea. Plus I think this idea is probably easier to copy than the other.)

Hey...I saw you were giving away your sources again, for where to get the goggles and stuff. I know you like to share, but this whole thing (needing to refresh your style and techniques) was prompted by too much sharing. I know it's not a big deal, but I just wanted to say something, in case.

It must be exciting, though, to have mask-making feel kind of 'fresh' again with the new techniques and new look of the finished product.
9th-Jan-2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
I'm working on that other idea too...the one I told you about. :) It's actually half-finished, but the steampunk-y stuff is going so well (and getting such great attention!) that I'm keeping the ball rolling for now. It's about buzz, right now, and I'm building up my steampunk gallery in DA because I'm sending out these pics/links to a few entertainment production companies soon...I want to have an impressive collection to show them.

Eh...anyone who tries to copy the goggles can find the basic goggles anywhere, so it wasn't really much of a secret. My secret is in the customization...you wouldn't believe the stuff I'm using to jazz up the goggles! Plumbing supplies, upholstery stuff, a little of everything. I think eventually (and probably REAL soon) you'll see copycats. But my plan is to keep staying one step ahead (there's already a huge leap between my first goggle-on-Fullsteam attempt and this latest dragon). Next step is actual fabrication...I know a guy who will cut & machine custom parts for me from copper and brass plates...all I need is to give him the templates. I imagine custom-machined parts are going to be a LOT harder to copy. ;)

Still working up new designs of all sorts though. I thought of you when I came up with this thing here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/90113417/snowflake-mask-limited-edition-hand-made It just seems like something you'd like. :)
9th-Jan-2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, actually, I noticed the snowflake on FB :) Actually I noticed it even before when you were posting a goggle you made with the snowflake mask half finished in the background (unpainted.) It's really pretty.

I have a big bag of hardware that I've had around for two or three years now, intending to make a heavy industrial-style necklace. Never got around to it. The bag is still juuuust over there.
9th-Jan-2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
Damn, these are badass! The whiskers are a great (and simple!) idea. And I adore the magnification lenses on the dragon.
10th-Jan-2012 04:59 am (UTC)
Thank you...I'm really enjoying this new experimentation phase I'm in right now. I'm so excited about my pieces for the first time in a long time. :)
9th-Jan-2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Those are beautiful tentacles!
10th-Jan-2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! But stay tuned...the one I'm making tonight is even better! Yards and yards better. :)
9th-Jan-2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Say...I know mask-making is your business so you generally don't have time to play around with it, but have you ever considered doing as writers might do, and invite a 'challenge', either open or to a closed group of friends/associates? Like...'a colour combination' or 'a mythical creature' and so on? The person would leave no other details...JUST what you ask (two colours, the name of a mythical creature, whatever.)

I'm just wondering because it'd be like an outside prompt is for a writer...tends to make you come up with something fresh.

With all your new ideas you don't need this right now but if you ever feel like you're bored because you're having to make the same three masks every day, it might be something to try. :)
10th-Jan-2012 05:01 am (UTC)
Challenges are fun...I don't know the right forum for it though. DA is so...competitive that it kind of takes the fun out of stuff like that (for me anyway). Maybe here in LJ.
10th-Jan-2012 10:24 am (UTC)
Prompt is probably the better word. You just say 'give me a colour combo' and leave it at that. LJ was what I was thinking, since you can select who to ask, here, using filters. Perhaps just artist friends, or the biggest mask fans, or etc.

EDIT: And I meant it only for you. Meaning you'd be the only one using the prompt. So I'm not sure if competition could come into the picture anywhere :) (I'm just thinking of ways to get random fresh ideas that you might not on your own. Like...if I was asked for a two-colour combo, I'd say 'hot pink and copper', and how often do you make masks in THAT scheme?)

Edited at 2012-01-10 10:27 am (UTC)
10th-Jan-2012 03:27 am (UTC)
*high fave*

That is AWESOME! Well done--this series of masks definitely deserves the attention that it's getting. When you say 'next level' you really mean 'leaving the atmosphere', don't you?

You're amazing.
10th-Jan-2012 05:02 am (UTC)
Heh thanks! Yeah seriously...I'm testing myself. I want to see how far I can go if I try some really different things that I've been avoiding.
10th-Jan-2012 07:24 am (UTC)
Totally awesome masks. They all look so cool. I eagerly look forward to is noddly appendage mod 2. :)

And now I am curious about the other idea noted by golden_meliades. I won't ask but I shall eagerly await to see what it is.

Again, awesome stuff and I look forward to seeing more.
13th-Jan-2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
O_o I missed these earlier, I'm not sure how. The dragon, especially, is awesome!
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