Anemone

Large mask made of bottle plastic with many claws coming out the top of its head, and four claws out the side. Six horizontal eye slits and many oval air-holes in face. Brightly colored with orange, blue, and green stripes.

Mask in total darkness, internally illuminated by blue, green, and orange lights. Claws brightly lit.

Primary materials: Plastic from one and two gallon water bottles, braided thread, cable ties, markers, electro-luminescent wires.

I got the idea for mask after walking around at night in a crowd wearing Yellow Octopus. People seemed to enjoy the lights and general appearance of that mask. On the other hand, it was very hard for me to see while wearing it. So I thought it would be interesting to make something even bigger and brighter, but with greatly increased visibility.

This gets its basic shape from a two gallon water bottle. This is the first time I’ve used one of these. You might think that it would save a bunch of work because a bottle that size is already basically big enough to stick your head in. Actually this isn’t the case. There are a lot of ridges that I needed to cut out, along with the handle on top, the spout, the bottom, and the front, so while the two-gallon bottle did lend its general shape and provide a backbone for the project, it didn’t particularly streamline construction.

Right side of mask. Three black wires descend from back.

Left side of mask. Three black wires descend from back.

Putting on all the spikes probably doubled the length of the project. It was a lot of work making so many of them and getting them relatively even in shape. I used cable ties to attach most of them to the main structure. This let me get a good solid connections in areas where I wouldn’t be able to reach in and tie knots in thread.

Normally I wouldn’t put so many eye and air holes into a mask because it’s too easy to see the wearer’s face through them. But this is specifically designed to be worn at night with the lights on. When they’re on and flashing, they pretty much obscure the wearer.

Left front of mask in total darkness, internally illuminated by blue, green, and orange lights.

Right front of mask in total darkness, internally illuminated by blue, green, and orange lights. Claws brightly lit.

Right side of mask in total darkness, internally illuminated by blue, green, and orange lights. Claws brightly lit. Wiggly patterns of lights underneath the plastic are very apparent.

I found the coloration to be a challenge. When this is lit up it has a glowing deep-sea-creature look to it, but when it was blank and without lights, I wasn’t sure which way to go. The shape doesn’t dictate an obvious color scheme, and I wanted to use light colors to let the lights shine through, so this limited my options. (If I didn’t care about lights I could color this red and black and be done with it.) Eventually I decided to make a repeating pattern of three colors that would mirror the three colors of lights I intended to use.

On earlier projects I had to run some of the luminescent wire out the back of the mask to attach to the power packs. This would eat up about four feet of lights. For this I cut and extended the cables on the power packs themselves, so that all the luminescent wire could be used in the mask. Because I had three wires, this saved about six feet. There is a total of 45 feet of luminescent wire in this.

It’s a big piece, but because it’s made of plastic bottles, it’s quite light and comfortable. The eye and air holes provide good vision and breathability.