Friday, October 24, 2008

Mask Update (and perfectionism)

I have been working on these masks for a long, long time. (See previous post about them)

Yeah. That's a long time. I do them in a sort of "assembly-line" fashion, so once they get to the finishing point, I'll have about 20 all at once.

The reason they haven't gotten to that point yet? I'm a perfectionist at every step of the way. Currently I'm stumped by this guy, because there is still evidence that human hands have touched his face. (He's nowhere near completion, btw, but if more sanding and shaping needs to be done on the lower half of his face, it needs to be done before doing anything else)

Here's part of the problem: I've tried to compare them to similar masks out there. Most of these that I've been able to handle, however, are mass-produced. They are perfectly symmetrical. Mine start life as an actual human face. I cast a mold from that face, make a positive from that mold, then sculpt a clay shape OVER the face positive. After that, I make a negative, then paper-mache into the negative, remove it, trim it, sand it, cut the eyeholes, gesso, and then... you get to where I am now, where at this point I've spent so much time on them, I can see every single imperfection, no matter how tiny. I've completely lost perspective.

And I can't tell if I am being OCD, or simply professional. Are the little imperfections charming, or amateurish? Keep in mind that I intend to sell these in the range of $50-$150. This guy here would probably start at around $75. I can't justify asking that unless I'm convinced that it's worth it. But I also can't spend hundreds of hours on each mask if I'm selling them for around a hundred bucks. It's not logical. (Not that I've ever been accused of being logical...)

So, comment away. And if you don't want to comment, I've added a poll on the right sidebar over there. Just vote! Early and often.


Kim said...

I think that's what makes one- of- a kind things one-of-a-kind, the little imperfections!! You need to step away, then when you see him again you will think he looks great!

Julie said...

I think he looks great, but it also depends what else you're doing to him. I think he looks unfinished, because he is!

And I agree with Kim....

K.C. said...

The human touch needs to be seen, I know the amount is the question. I use surgical gloves when doing my work to keep the fingerprints down to a minumum but I won't sand away any that come through, I think a little of the persons 'mark' left there is what says handmade and lovingly created. From your pictures he looks great. I find that if I stay with one thing too long I get the same way, only thing that helps is to step away, work on something else and 9 times out of 10 when I come back to it, it looks fine and I stop fussing! Are these going to be a limited series? If so that could help in your pricing.