08 February 2008

life mask (part 2)

i made a mould of my face with plaster of paris on january 25.

on january 31 i poured the mask. first i smeared the inside of the mould with petroleum jelly, wrapped the mould in aluminum foil to prevent plaster from flowing out the ends, and filled it with fresh plaster of paris. i left it for a week to cure.

yesterday i finished the mask, shown at left. i got a massage in the morning from a young woman who modeled for me last year. then went to the studio and with hammer, screwdrivers, handsaw, dental picks and a file slowly cut, chipped, pried and filed down the plaster mould to reveal the casting inside. this process took all afternoon; i had to work slowly so as not to crack the mask or gouge it with a tool.

there was a peculiar fascination in chipping my recognizable features out of the block of chalk, and palpating the features without feeling touch on my face, as if it were another face.

i filled gouges and scraped down imperfections. the petroleum jelly left the surface somewhat greasy. to blot up the oil, i smeared the mask with yarka "sanguine" chalk and wiped the excess off.

i made a shallow tray with the binding of four art books laid on my work table, spaced to form a golden rectangle, then lined the void with aluminum foil. i set the mask on small strips of wood, then filled the space with plaster up to the edges of the mask, which were chipped. (i should have first filled the void and then dropped the mask into the matrix.) the face seems to emerge from a caul, and has the scowl of a newborn. (the mouldmaking was a trying experience.)

my wife took an immediate dislike to the mask and asked me to keep it down in the studio.


Nick said...

"my wife took an immediate dislike to the mask and asked me to keep it down in the studio."

that's hilarious....I'll let you know how it goes here

W. K. Moore said...

One hell of a project Bruce. The end result was worth the discomfort I imagine. The painting of the features makes it stand out in a mysterious way as if purchased in a rare curio shoppe.