Casual Friday

Left front of purple cloth-mache mask with colorful feathers. Two large red feathers are on the top. Golden metallic highlights decorate its nose and eyebrows. Black pattern on left cheek decorated with rhinestones. Mask covers top half of face only.

Primary materials: Cloth, glue, metal mesh, tape, acrylic paint, metallic wax, feathers, ribbon, rhinestones.

Around 2007 I put a cereal box on my head and had the idea of making an extra-tall hat/mask sort of thing out of it. I bought a few bags of feathers for this project but didn’t end up using any. They sat in a drawer for ten years.

While cleaning the drawer out I rediscovered the feathers. I wanted to finally make something with them. But given how fragile feathers are, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time on a mask that might fall apart almost immediately.

So I decided to make something carefree enough that I wouldn’t be too attached to the outcome. If it fell apart, fine. So I didn’t sweat some of the details too much. This freed me to try a lot of new things and take more risks than normal. Use cloth I didn’t like? Sure. Old paint? Throw it in. New painting technique? Try it out. Untested rhinestone applicator? Why not.

Right side of mask. Red pattern on right cheek decorated with rhinestones. Two large red feathers come out the top of the mask. Pink elastic strapping visible.

Front of purple mask with feathers and rhinestones.

The two big red feathers are held on by magnets. The original idea here was that if the feathers got broken I could replace them easily instead of having to chisel away glue and repaint anything. It turned out to be a useful feature for storing the mask, too, because now I can just turn the feathers down and cut the mask’s height in half, or take them off completely. The main trade-off here being that the magnets don’t stick very well to feather quills, so they keep cracking off. If I was doing this again I’d do something different.

Before I started, I thought that gluing on the feathers was going to be a really slow process. They were actually one of the fastest steps. Painting, applying the rhinestones (are are about 180 on here), and making the straps all took longer. The small feathers are also stronger than I expected. After gluing them on I handled this for several hours building other parts of it and none of the feathers fell off.