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Halloween Ordering Info 2016 (or “he who hesitates is lost”)

leather masks in progress
leather masks in progress

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.

If you’re in a hurry, please visit my “Ready to Ship” section, for a selection of masks that are in stock and ready to ship quickly. 

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!

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Be honorable

"Venetian Bird Mask"
“Venetian Bird Mask”

I designed this original leather mask in 2013. It’s part of an ongoing series that began in 2001 – each one is unique, but shares similar lines and details. It would seem that the design has recently been copied by another artist, who is marketing it as his own.

Sadly, this stuff happens daily. If it was an isolated incident, I might be more able to let it roll off my back – but it’s not. It’s extremely frustrating, but I try to keep my mouth shut, because everyone tells me to take the high road. To “be better, not bitter” – and honestly, I want that too. Unfortunately, there are so many of these copycats these days that the “high road” is starting to feel like a lonely ledge… and it gets harder and harder to make a living doing what I love (or to love what I do for a living) from that place. 

This really hits me where I live, and I don’t know how to put a “positive” or “professional” spin on it. To my fellow aspiring artists, I cannot encourage you enough to be respectful of your peers (and yourself). Be honorable, be original, and don’t steal.


This gallery showcases many (but certainly not all!) of the designs that I’ve done in this series. It’s included to give you a sense of the time that I’ve spent honing and evolving these designs, and also to show how many people have commissioned these signature pieces from me over the last 15 years. Please be respectful of my art, my livelihood, and the wonderful people who have helped to support that process.

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Opening up commissions soon!

Halloween 2015 Commission Info Coming Soon!
Halloween 2015 Commission Info Coming Soon!

Hello friends! I’m already getting quite a few requests for custom work for Halloween. On that note, I have good news and bad news:

* The bad news (just to get it out of the way) is that commission slots will be very limited this season. My apologies in advance, but I’m taking on several new commitments this fall, and I know that I’ll need to be protective of my health and sanity if I’m to accomplish all that I hope to!

* The GOOD news is that I’ll start accepting custom orders again very soon, and past customers will get first dibs on those commission slots. If we’ve worked together before – and especially if we have already discussed your idea – your project will have priority.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting more details soon!

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WIP – Lady of the Roses(?)

Lady of Roses leather mask
Lady of Roses leather mask

This piece is a work in progress. It’s a new iteration of my “Lady of the Leaves” design, which I usually create in either summer  or fall colors. She was inspired by the first blooms of spring.

When I shared this piece on my facebook fan page, and asked for suggestions for a name, “Lady of the Roses” was the one that I liked best. It fits well with the rest of the series … and I suppose that once she’s finished, I’ll need to create a “Lady of Winter” too.

 

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Artchain Day 1

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.

a.adams1996 changes 16133_186859229365_6497828_n

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Throwback Thursday

I began making masks around 1991. My early masks were decorative wall hangings with elaborate bead and featherwork designs. During this same time period, I also began working with garment leather to create bags and purses. After a few years, I realized that I could fuse these interests to create *wearable* masks using leather bases. These masks are from the mid 90’s, and they show that transition from decorative to wearable.

It’s challenging to find pictures of my earlier pieces, since we were on the road for several years and simply didn’t take many photos. Even the masks that I made later (say late 90’s/early 2000’s) are not very well documented. Somewhere around here, I have floppy discs full of images… but my current computer doesn’t even have a slot for floppies! Likewise, I have slides floating around that I used to use to jury in to art shows (that’s how we did it back in the day 😉 but I have no idea where. I’ll keep an eye out for those, and share them if they ever crop up. It’s been fun to look back and notice how my work has changed and evolved over time.

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The Art of the Mask

© The Art of the Mask

I had the good fortune to meet Cyndy Salisbury of The Art of the Mask while vending at FaerieCon West this past weekend. Typically, I wouldn’t call it “good fortune” to have my booth directly beside that of another mask maker, but she is special. Not only does she do exceptional work, she seems like a genuinely kind and interesting person. I really enjoyed meeting her.

Cyndy’s masks are very labor intensive. She creates her own molds by creating life casts of her family members, and she uses these molds to create elaborate designs in paper mache. She has spent a good deal of time researching traditional Venetian mask making techniques, and the influence is very evident in her work.

© The Art of the Mask

Many of her masks look as though they came directly from Italy, while others suggest characters from Greek mythology. Other styles, like the “Autumn Winds” mask to the left, hint at her Northwest roots. This one is constructed with intricate layers upon layers of handcrafted paper leaves, blended with earthy feathers. The photos are nice, but they only scratch the surface — her masks are rich in detail, and absolutely stunning

During the event, Cyndy gave a demonstration on the life casting process. The workshop was very informative, and it really illustrated how much thought and effort goes in to her work. Her lighthearted banter with her son and husband helped to make it very entertaining as well.

© The Art of the Mask

I’ve never tried life casting, though I’ve always wanted to learn how it’s done. It looks like it will take a fair bit of experimentation to get it down, but I think it will really help me to improve my mask designs. With that said, I’m deeply grateful that she was so generous with her knowledge!

You can see more of Cyndy’s work at her Etsy shop, and you can also “like” her on facebook to keep up with her new work and upcoming shows.

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Vampire’s Masquerade Ball

one of my painted domino masks

We traveled down to Portland Oregon this weekend to vend at the 9th annual Vampire’s Masquerade Ball. It was a fabulous experience — despite the fact that I had a raging migraine the entire evening, we had a blast! The show’s producer, Lady Raven really goes all out to create an elegant event. Her careful planning and attention to detail are evident everywhere you turn.

The crowd was amazingly well dressed, colorful and friendly. I foolishly forgot to bring my good camera, so I’ve only got these blurry camera phone photos to share. Sorry about that, folks! Hopefully they at least hint at the elegant characters and vibrant costumes at this event.

 one of my “Fae” masks

Oh! And I got to meet my fellow Fae Team member, Susan Tooker (of Susan Tooker’s Spinning Castle). I have long admired her amazing jewelry and costume design skills, so it was a real treat to see them in person. I wish I’d taken a photo of her (the vampire pirate to the left is not Susan) but the aforementioned migraine really put a damper on my thinking/social skills. So,  for now you’ll miss out on photos of Susan as a dark and mysterious faerie queen; however, we had such a great time at this show that I hope to make it down for more Oregon costume events. Maybe I’ll get another chance to connect with her and share some photos on this blog — in the meantime, do check out her store link above. You will not be dissapointed!

red and black “Imp” mask

Another very talented artisan that I met at this event was Laura of Taken by the Sky. She creates exquisite corsets and fantasy clothing. In getting ready for this show, I realized that R & I are in desperate need of new costumes! When we quit smoking, we both gained an absurd amount of weight and nothing fits anymore … I am working on losing the extra pounds, but of course it’s a slow process. I think I will set aside money for one of her cutaway pirate dresses (or a fancy coat?) so that I can reward myself when I’ve made some progress toward weight loss goals.

“Cat” mask

As fate would have it, I was set up close to Cindy of Portland’s Mystique Artisan Gallery. She and I had traded a few emails before the show, to discuss whether my work would be a good fit for her gallery. Almost as soon as we met, we realized that it certainly seems like a good fit! Robb and I stopped by the gallery the next morning on our way out of town, to check out the space and deliver a selection of masks. She’s got a great eye for quality, and she represents some of the most talented mask artists in the US. I am thrilled to have my work included there, and I hope you’ll stop by and say hi if you ever find yourself in the Portland area!

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Evolution…

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I was recently searching through some old files, and I came across this picture (to the left) of one of my imp masks. It may be my original prototype, which I created around 2001.

The reason it caught my attention is that I still

create this style of mask today. The picture at the right shows the current version. I’ve made some minor modifications to the original pattern, such as lengthening the tips and horns, and rounding out the cheek area at the bottom – but for the most part, the pattern is still the same. I think the biggest changes are in the intangible factors, like time and skill.

In the 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making this particular styleof mask, I’ve honed my skills and learned better techniques for shaping and coloring. In addition, I’ve had the benefit of a few mistakes along the way, which have taught me which paints and sealants to use. It may not have felt “beneficial” at the time, but the knowledge has really helped me to improve the quality of my work.

I still have much to learn, and I view my work as a constant process of experimentation and evolution … which includes plenty of mistakes. Still, it’s nice to be able to look back and realize that I’ve made a bit of progress along the way. Here’s hoping that my work will continue to improve and evolve over time.
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