Saturday, October 13, 2012

Deer Skull/Antler character study of Earth Shaman puppet

 So, the "Earth Shaman" is the puppet I speak of in my kickstarter project. These images are a 'study' of this character. He is ultimately going to look fairly different from these images but I wasn't entirely sure until I saw how this played out. This study plays with deer skull and antler imagery ...  and a type of 'mask' you might see portrayed in an image of a Native American Medicine Man....the medicine man hidden partially with the skull on his head and the animal hide draped over his body. I love the way the mask feels. It turned into quite a relic.

Below are some process photos... 

 Me on mom and dads deck enjoying the sun and the view of the Blue Ridge.   I started with a blob of water-based clay and sculpted the shape of the deer skull/mask. 

Then I covered it in Saran Wrap to protect the clay from drying out and from the glue. 
and then began to mache' with newspaper...

Then I did a layer of brown grocery bag. All in all it is about 4 layers of paper mache' 

 And then one layer of burlap on top of that. I dipped the strips of burlap in white glue. 

the result is a bomber-stiff hard layer that looks really interesting. to smooth it out and make it look more organic I dripped on a layer of wax and rubbed in some olive green and brown paints. 

here is the wax and paint with some added lichen and moss at the base of the antlers

some flowers (rabbit tobacco) and some magenta dyed wool fibers add a nice touch.
I think it looks really lovely in a decayed flesh kinda way!

Then I called up my friend Banister Pope- photographer extraordinaire!! and we went up on the hill behind mom and dads  to take some mask photos in the forest

 And this is some of the imagery we came up with.....most interesting

my favorite

Banister brought along his good friend Mike. Mike made a very good wizard
I love the arbitraryness of this. what ARE they doing.... what is happening here.

Here is Banisters' website...he lives in Boone NC by the way!

Now before I came back east to work on my kickstarter project I had already made a mask like this but ended up having to leave it in California

 Basically the same shape head with the burlap finish and 'handmade' antlers instead of found twigs. These are wire wrapped in tinfoil and covered in masking tape...yes they were heavy!

 Then I cut a "hide"out of fake fur

not too shabby for fakiness! 

Then I started playing with the images on Picasa and liked what was coming out.

So, all in all I learned alot from this study. Some things I already knew but wanted to see them "big" anyways. Like, take for instance, the gigantic antlers.....If I was to make them this big on the final puppet he would be a nightmare to travel with and I would surely at some point impale some sweet toddler that stumbled into the performance space! There will be no child impaling at my puppet performances even if my stuff may occasionally look a little on the dark side!
 I DO like the idea of the puppet being a head-dress at one point(sitting on top of my as in these photos) and then at another point during the performance his head slides down over my face as a mask. and then becoming more autonomous it moves farther away from my head- moving independently and then finally he and I separate entirely and I am outside him operating him. (Bunraku style) Hmmm. not sure how this will play out. I may end up settling on puppeteering him one way or another versus several ways....we shall see.


  1. Several spectacular images! Love the forest prints, Picasa, and Shell Face Shaman pictures primarily.

    Loving your concepts behind his not needing his eyes to see what he is looking into.

  2. Wow - Came across your post while doing some research on an ancient Scottish deer Goddess. So impressed - will have to share the post if that's ok.


    1. Yes Jude, that is fine! Glad you like what you see here! blessings!


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