Finally got that soft light that I’d been hoping for, and made a dent in my “need to photograph” pile!
Finally got that soft light that I’d been hoping for, and made a dent in my “need to photograph” pile!
As this photo suggests, I’m already up to my elbows in Halloween prep! I’ve had several requests for custom costumes, so it seems like a good time to let everyone know that commission spots will be very limited this year. Like, extremely limited. So if you’re hoping to have something made from scratch to your specifications, you should definitely contact me soon! To order a one of a kind costume piece, please visit the “Custom Work” section of my website, and fill out the inquiry form there. This form outlines the info that I’ll need in order to understand your project, and it will really streamline the process for both of us. My commission spots fill up quickly, so please don’t put this off!
If you’re simply hoping to have one of my existing designs painted in your colors, I can usually be a bit more flexible. My turn around time for these types of orders is generally around two weeks before shipping, though that wait time gets longer the closer we get to Halloween. You can check out my “Made to Order” section to find mask styles that can be made in your choice of colors.
Last but not least, I’ll be adding a small selection of unique, one of a kind masks and costume accessories this year. Keep an eye on my website, as well as my Facebook fan page, in order to see these pieces as they’re added.
And just to reiterate: Halloween commissions will be very limited this year. If you’d like a custom costume, now’s the time to get in touch. Please don’t be one of those silly people who contacts me three days (or even 3 weeks) before Halloween in hopes of commissioning a one of a kind piece!
Arthchain Day 1 – I was nominated to post an item of artwork a day for 5 days (and to nominate others…).
These are some of the oldest masks that I can find photos of (though they were made a few years into my mask making journey) and they’re quite different from what I’m doing now. They used a lot more of the intricate featherwork, and though none of these really show it, but I used to incorporate a lot of detailed beadwork and gemstones too. They were made while my family and I were doing the pow wow circuit, and each one told a story about the people and places we encountered along the way. These would have been mid 90’s – just as I was transitioning from wallhanging/art masks, to wearable art masks.
Aaron Silverman of Silverman Workshop is a fellow mask maker. He was one of the winners in the recent “Mask of Death” contest over at the Leather Mask Art group on Deviantart; his entry is shown below:
In his own words: ‘I chose to model my mask after a picture I saw of a bog mummy named, “Tollund Man”. It amazed me how well his face was preserved! He looks as if he just laid down and fell asleep. I can even see ancient stubble that grew on his face. Because of his remarkable preservation in a Danish bog I would consider his face a mask of death.’
When asked for a bio, Aaron said “I’m not professional by any stretch of the imagination. I mainly just consider myself a tinkerer of sorts. I think since I’ve started about 2ish years ago I’ve really been trying to find a style of my own. Emotion is really what I’ve been wanting to convey in my mask making. Like the one I made for the contest and I made another like it a while back called the crying mask.
Really though, my collection of mask styles have been pretty diverse. I was enjoying making Mardi Gras or carnival masks just because they are outlandishly decorated and historically rich.
So yeah besides that I’m very much a hobbyist, though I’m not one to turn down a commission.”
I’ve just liked his facebook page, and I hope you’ll do the same. Between his innate talent and his willingness to explore and take risks with his work, it’ll be fun to watch him develop his style and skills. On that note, please enjoy these images of Aaron’s work:
He posted a very cool back story on this piece over on his DA page.
In the last few years, leather mask making has become wildly popular. What was once a fairly obscure craft is now a rapidly growing niche, with an abundance of newcomers. It’s great for the art form – new blood brings fresh ideas and energy, and established artists can pass along their techniques, ensuring that they won’t be lost over time. What’s not so great is that many hobbyists aren’t taking time to develop their own style before they start selling. Instead, they replicate established artisans’ work and sell the copies at discount rates alongside the originals. This practice is counter to the spirit of good craftsmanship, and it’s damaging to everyone involved: A flooded market decreases uniqueness, quality and value, and it confuses customers. Experienced artists are forced to compete with low quality copies of their own work (often priced at or below wholesale) and the copycats barely get paid for their materials, let alone their time.
I’m really feeling the impact of this and sadly, I’m not alone. Some mask artisans no longer show their work online, while others have simply given up the craft in frustration. It’s hard to feel excited or inspired when your ideas and livelihood are copied before you’re finished exploring them. That may sound like a whole lot of whining, but really does go deeper than that. When talented artists stop showing their work or leave the field completely, it’s a loss for the whole community. While experienced artists are giving up, there’s an incoming crop of artisans that aren’t actually learning to create. They’re hungry for (and sometimes demanding) free tutorials and patterns, yet they seem afraid to experiment on their own. A critical facet of creativity is being willing to take risks and make mistakes. How will the art form grow if everyone just plays it safe and regurgitates what’s already been done?
Let me clarify that I’m not hating on beginners. We all start somewhere. Some of the newer mask makers are creating outstanding work. They’ve used tutorials as a springboard for their own ideas, with innovative, high quality results. What’s more, they acknowledge their teachers, graciously showing appreciation and building community. With this mutually supportive approach, artisans of varying experience can build each other up and expand the art form. And why not? There’s enough room at the table for everyone, as long as we’re all being authentic and respectful. If you’re a mask maker, you’ve probably made (or will make) a dragon, skull, fairy, cat, owl, wolf or Anubis mask at some point in your career. This overlap is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be a problem if each artist is exploring these themes using their own vision and style.
So if you’re still with me, here are my questions:
How do we foster a healthier community?
Is it possible to share while still maintaining good boundaries?
Is there a way to teach skills and techniques, while also teaching ethics and craftsmanship?
How can we encourage people to refine their skills and personal style before jumping into the market? Likewise, can we encourage respectful competition?
Please forgive the length, and know that I’m not out to preach or put anyone down. I’m sticking my neck out here in an attempt to spark discussion and positive change.
|© 2014 Andrea Adams|
This is the 6th version in this series of masks since 2009. Each one is a bit different, but they’re all made from the same pattern. This one is a gorgeous electric blue, accented with peacock, parrot and pheasant feathers in shades of blue, green and bronze. At the forehead is a shimmering green beetle wing, set in a bezel of glass seed beads.
|“Day of the Deadheads” leather mask © Andrea Adams 2013|
I haven’t been doing much custom work lately. I’ll probably start accepting commissions again in late spring or early summer; but for the time being, I’m trying to focus on some larger creative projects of my own. As such, I am guarding my studio time preciously, and seriously limiting the number of custom orders I accept.
With that being said, here’s a recent custom piece. It’s the second variation on my “Day of the Deadheads” mask. A fun little pun, made especially for an old friend from back in the day 🙂
|Sugar skull fascinator © Andrea Adams 2012|
Whew! Another Halloween has come and gone, and man was it a whirlwind. I had a lot of fun, and met some truly amazing people. For whatever reason, “serendipity” seems to be the keyword in my transactions this season, which makes me incredibly happy.
I have been doing this for many years now, but I still learn something new each time around. This year had quite a few lessons, and there are several things that I intend to do differently — hopefully, better — next year; but overall, it was quite a successful Halloween. Many, many thanks to my fabulous customers for that!
Entries for my annual costume contest are due tomorrow. If you haven’t already submitted a photo, please send it soon! I’m excited to see everyone’s costumes, and to be able to give a little something back (the winner gets a $50 credit at my Etsy shop)
|Photo © JustALittleMore Photography|
Photography is simply not my strong suit. I’ve worked hard to improve, but overall, it’s just not something that comes naturally to me. Add to this the fact that my house (and surrounding grounds) are heavily shaded with VERY low light, and it becomes extra challenging for me to get good photos. So this year I decided to reach out to a few photographers and see if they could help me on this front.
|Photo © Priya Alahan Photography|
Three people responded to my request, and it was very rewarding to work with ALL of them. Each brought her own unique vision and personality, and I learned a lot from every exchange.
I’m thrilled that I can now show several of my mask styles being worn, as I’m sure it really helps customers to visualize how the masks will fit on them. While I do have mannequin heads that I can use in a pinch, they tend to run a bit smaller than a real human head and sometimes this can really prevent you from imagining the true fit.
|Photo © Michelle Masso 2012|
Beyond the practical considerations of fit, the photos just LOOK better than the ones that I take. These ladies have the proper equipment, training and talent to get clear, beautiful shots where I fall short. While I certainly can (and will) invest more time into learning how to take better photos myself, sometimes it’s just nice to hand the job over to a professional and know that it will be done right. At least in my case, it freed me up to focus more on mask making, where I feel my energy was better spent.
With that being said, I wanted to take a moment to thank these ladies for their time and talent. It helped me immensely, and I’m extremely grateful. In no particular order, the photographers were Priya Alahan, Maureen of JustALittleMOre Photography, and Michelle of Kramer Studios. These artists were very generous with me, and I highly recommend each one.
I’m probably going to hibernate for awhile after Halloween, but once I’m rested up, I hope to try this again. These experiences have given me a clearer sense of my own needs, as well as what to expect when working with others. I’m sure there is still much to learn in that regard, but at very least, I don’t feel like I am totally flying blind anymore.
|Summer 2012 issue of FAE Magazine|
OMG! The fact that I have not posted about this yet is testament to how insanely busy and exhausted I have been lately. Please allow me to correct this absurd oversight …
|Photo © Janna Prosvirina|
The model is the lovely Janna Prosvirina, who is as talented as she is beautiful (follow the link above to see some of Janna’s gorgeous fantasy art!). I am so grateful to her for supplying these photos. She submitted them for my virtual costume contest this past fall, and they ended up being perfect for this opportunity with FAE magazine!
If you’re interested in one or both of these masks, you can find them on my website which is the very best way to buy directly from me. They are also currently listed in my Etsy shop. The “Lady of the Leaves” mask (which is the bottom layer) is available here and the “Autumn Greenman” can be found here.
I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the magazine, and I am deeply grateful for this wonderful opportunity!
Holiday sale = 10% off orders of $50+ through 11/27 with coupon code "Holiday17" * Orders will ship when we return on 11/28