Eye Got This

Front right of large mask made of bottle plastic with crustacean appearance. It has lots of blue eyes and four blue claws. Its body is covered in scale-like black patterns filled with yellow and orange.

Primary materials: Plastic from gallon water bottles, braided thread, markers.

Sometimes I start a mask with a clear vision in mind. Other times, I have a general idea of where I want to go, but am trying something new, and the new technique or material reveals a design path to follow.

This is one of those occasions. I wanted to experiment with building a superstructure “frame” of plastic around my head, and then building shapes off of that. Previously I had built bottle masks piece-by-piece without any internal structure. This can be quite tedious. I thought the superstructure might save me time and make the process more efficient.

It didn’t turn out to be all that helpful. It bent and twisted as I added outer plates, and I ended up cutting most of it out. But as the mask grew in the early stages, I saw a kind of crustacean shape. This inspired the rest of the design.

Front of mask. It has eleven eyes made from plastic bottle spouts, four blue claws with black tips made from bottle handles, and a blue vertical mouth.
Left side of mask. Halfway across the back its smaller scales are replaced by larger plates that form the tail. Blue segmented leg-like structures are drawn on the middle of its body.

The claws are an innovation in two ways. They are the first time I made claw-like structures without using any thread to hold them together. They are also the first to have smooth plastic tips integrated into them.

The hardest part of the whole thing turned out to be the eyes. They involved a lot of parts that needed to fit together but required other parts to be in place first; at the same time, those other parts couldn’t be put in correctly until the eyes were in place. How do you make progress in these cases? A lot of time, tape, and small adjustments.

I entered this into the Attleboro Arts Museum’s 2017 Flower Show. What does it have to do with flowers? Absolutely nothing. But the Museum requirements said the show was open to all “nature-themed” art. Most people took the flower theme pretty literally. This stood out among the daisies.

You can see it here in a 360-degree movable video. About 45 to 50 seconds into the video, click on the screen and rotate a bit to the right.