Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunflower Masks 6: Petals

The final design for the Clytie masks I've created is what I call "Petals", because I use additional tiny petals as the "accent" for the piece. This idea actually derived from my training as an (Advanced) Master Gardener, where we learned that the family of plants to which the Sunflowers belong (formerly known as the Compositae, now known as the Asteraceae) are characterized by a flowering body made up of two types of flowers - ray flowers, which reside at the perimeter of the flower and characterized by showy petals, and disk flowers, which are much less conspicuous and take up the rest of the flower head. The sequential blooming of the disk flowers explains the ongoing visits by pollinators and, therefore, the fact that these types of plants are a highly valuable resource for our native pollinators.

I decided to take this idea in a slightly different direction, by creating additional petals to accent the faces for these masks. I fabricate the mask as usual, using the two rows of petals (Medium and Tiny Sunflower outer petals for the smaller, more delicately structured female face; Large and Small Sunflower outer petals for the larger, stronger-featured male face) around the perimeter. Then I used the Tiny Sunflower inner petal cutter to make additional petals that I then attached in a manner intended to accentuate the face's inherent structure.

After bisque firing as usual, I glazed using Burnt Umber for the face; I applied Titanium Mason Stain for the entire surface of all the petals and then brushed Orange Mason Stain for just the tips, as I had for the previous post on the masks. This makes for a brighter yet more subtle color combination folks really seem to like.

To finish all of the masks, I use a type of wire I can only seem to find at Lowe's, of all places - a plastic-coated 30-lb picture wire by Ook. I like to use this product because it is less prone to rusting due to the coating; I could use stainless steel wire instead, but it is quite a bit more expensive. I loop it through the holes in the back of the mask and twist securely. These pieces are considerably less than 30 pounds, so I'm not concerned about the wire failing. (I'm not so much buying the wire for its rating as for its coating.)

This is the design I used for the mask of my best friend, Catherine which appeared in a picture taken of me for an article about the Clematis in my garden published in Michigan Gardening magazine in July 2009. I so like this photo - because it incorporates two of my three loves (the other being my cats, of course!) - my garden and my pottery. You can also see three more of the masks I've made of myself and my "sibling friends" (there are nine altogether now, including Carla, to the left of the photo, and Nancy, in the distance to the right; I'm in the back to the left; Sue Ann, Tia, Sharon, Debbie and Stephen are out there as well), all of which stay outside on their posts all year long so I can always visit with my family. (The Clematis is Clematis x 'Barbara Jackman'.)

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