Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mask Skull + 365 Interview

Keltie Borden of 365 Masks made this excellent skull mask in honor of the end of Skull-A-Day 1.0! Indeed, many of the techniques she used were an inspiration to me when I was making my own skulls. While it's no longer a daily project, Keltie is still working toward a goal of making 365 total masks on her site. Her 365 interview follows...

S-A-D: Why did you decide to do a 365 project?
K: 365 Masks was inspired mostly by your Skull-A-Day site, and my intention was definitely to learn to stretch my wings when it comes to maskmaking. I'd developed my own signature technique and style and felt stuck in a rut, so my goal was to find varied maskmaking methods through necessity. I knew I'd be forced to change my approach, and that I'd learn a lot. Mostly, though, I just love making masks.

S-A-D: On average how much time do you spend each day on your pieces?
K: It depends heavily on materials. Some masks take less than an hour, like the ones I make out of hot glue or paper. Others, like clay ones, have stages such as drying time for the clay, sanding and then painting, so they can take a few days in total. My intention was not to make only one mask a day and make it the day it's posted, so I allowed myself some flexibility there. Usually, though, it takes anywhere from an hour to three hours, depending. One of my greatest discoveries for this project was the tinfoil and masking tape technique, which allows me to create a basic form much more time-efficiently than materials like clay or paper mache, since there's no drying time involved.

S-A-D: How much/how often did you make art before this?
K: I've never been an artist for a living, but have always had some kind of project on the go. In the four or so years before starting 365 Masks I was working mostly on making masks (with a focus on sugar skull masks), plus jewelry and hairsticks. I get fascinated by new (to me) techniques and materials and like to teach myself things, so have gone through papermaking phases, beadwork, masks, jewelry, paper mache sculpture ... it goes on, but if I'm not doing something creative on at least a fairly regular basis I feel unfulfilled. This tendency to learn various art forms has lent itself very well to the project.

S-A-D: What did you expect to get from this experience?
K: I expected it to be hard, and it was. I didn't expect it to get quite as hard as it did, though, and have acknowledged that an actual mask a day might have been too ambitious, which is why I chose to change it from 'a-day' project to one that ends when I reach 365 masks instead. I struggled with that decision and still feel vaguely disappointed, but it really came down to whether or not I wanted to see the project through in whatever way I can, and so that's what'll happen.

My expectations were certainly surpassed by the enthusiasm of people I know and people who stumbled across my site through links or Googling. The response has been nothing but positive, and it's bolstered my confidence a lot. I expected some kindness, and instead I got love. People have commented on the site, and I get a lot of emails from people who love maskmaking or have been inspired to try it after finding my site.

S-A-D: How has this process affected your creativity/skills/style?
K: I'm learning to set aside a lot of excessive perfectionism and not be as self-critical. I've posted some masks that I would never have dared to two years ago and have been pleasantly surprised by the views of other people. I also knew going in that I couldn't afford snobbery with regards to materials or techniques and have ended up making some great discoveries as a result (like the aforementioned tinfoil and masking tape technique, which has saved my butt on a regular basis!)

S-A-D: How do you stay inspired?
K: Google is my best friend. If I'm feeling uninspired I go through my bookmarks of maskmaking ideas that I compiled early on, or do new searches for various mask ideas and techniques using random word combinations. Not just mask stuff, but all kinds of art and craft ideas. My hot glue mask was inspired by a hot glue choker I saw an article about, and the glass nugget mosaic mask was inspired by an instructional on making magnets. Often I'll go through the entire archives of a craft instructional site, looking for a neat or unique idea that I can apply to maskmaking.

S-A-D: What is your favorite so far and why?
K: That's a tough question, and I'm sure you understand why! I'd have to say that my Bastet mask is a particular favourite, as is the glass tile mosaic. I also love the Dark Casanova ... See, this is hard! I will admit that many of my favourites are ones that took more time and effort than the quick-and-easy types. I get more invested in them, I suppose, since the creative process is so much more absorbing.

S-A-D: What is the best thing that has come from doing this project?
K: By far it's confidence. I've gained a lot of bravery when it comes to people seeing my art, and especially pieces that I'm not entirely sure will be understood. I've felt more free to be a kooky artist and it's a better fit for me than one who worries about whether her work will be validated by the opinions of others. I have had to stretch my abilities and expectations and it's done me a lot of good.

S-A-D: At this point do you think you would commit to doing another 365 project?
K: Even though this project wasn't able to remain a 365 project, I'd have to say yes, definitely. I'd like to do something a little less labour-intensive so that I don't derail myself, but the concept of the 'a-day' is what I liked best going in. I have some ideas, and am entertaining having simply an 'Art-A-Day' project so that I don't limit myself and give myself the freedom to do anything at all. We shall see!

S-A-D: Any advice for people considering starting their own 365 project?
K: Make sure it's something you already enjoy, and that it's not going to be too much for you to do daily. I said earlier that a mask a day turned out to be a bit too ambitious. No matter what, there's a level of basic labour involved in making a mask that you can't avoid, so when it wasn't convenient to the unexpected happenings in life, well ... it really wasn't convenient! So to focus on something that's truly realistic on a daily basis is my best advice.

S-A-D: What's next for you?
K: Until 365 Masks is finished I'm not planning to take on anything new. I will be opening a sister art weblog that will show off any art I make in the meantime that isn't mask-related, and I'll be announcing it on 365 Masks when I do. So, check there regularly if you're interested!

Thanks Keltie!

Keltie Borden is a self-taught artist living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her partner and two cats. Her interest in masks developed early on after seeing a stage production of The Last Unicorn when she was very young. Outside of mask making she currently works mostly in mixed media and paper art, with an interest in sculpted jewelry and hairsticks. As a child living in the Kitimat Valley of British Columbia she was exposed to the art of the indigenous Haisla community and has since had a definite leaning toward stylized, colorful art styles.

If you have done or are in the midst of a 365 project and would like to be interviewed drop me a line. Priority will be given to folks who have made a skull image as part of their project.

1 comment:

Rui Sousa said...

Great work, really nice, fantastic! congratulations!

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