Monday, December 2, 2013

An Interview with Fellow Creative Compulsive and Mask Maker, Donna Prentice

elephant mask
Ebony Shae Designs Elephant Mask PDF Pattern
Donna Prentice is a mask maker in Glenrowan, Australia. She has been making masks for the last 10 years, and since 2011 has been selling mask patterns in her Etsy shop, Ebony Shae Designs. In her shop you will find a fabulous collection of all kinds of animal masks...native Australian animals, Africa animals, farm animals, and much more!  I asked Donna to share a bit about her Creative Compulsive tendencies and her mask making processes, she has graciously agreed...

panda mask
Ebony Shae Designs Panda Mask PDF Pattern 
How did you get started mask making? What was your very first mask?

butterfly mask
Ebony Shae Designs Ulysses Butterfly
Mask PDF Pattern
I started making leather masks after falling in love with Ryl Mandus' work on the computer. (My love affair with masks began as a 16 year old when I went to see the Phantom of the Opera for the first, second and third times). I don't even remember how or why I was looking at masks on the internet. But being a creative compulsive I thought - I want to have a go at that. I initially used some suede I had, and used the same process I had learned many years previously for stiffening artificial flowers. That first mask was in brown, gold and bronze and was half covered in autumn leaves. 

After some playing, I went to the local leather worker and grilled him for an hour. He ordered me my first hide and I used what he had taught me to make masks. 

Unfortunately with the addition of our first daughter I found I could no longer spend the hours it took to cure and work the leather, let alone paint it! 

Once she finally got to the age where dressing up began to become part of our play, I started sewing simple masks using some of the leather working skills and some dress making.
Friends started asking for masks and I just couldn't keep up with the demand. So the idea of helping them to make their own masks was born.

blue macaw
Ebony Shae Designs Blue Macaw Mask PDF Pattern 
What fuels your mask making compulsion? What ignites the inspiration?

Unfortunately anything and everything can spark the 'oooh, I could make a ______ mask' thought process. I have a list that if I made 2 masks a month, would currently take me 4 years to work through! Animal and nature documentaries are particularly dangerous for the compulsion. Reading stories and playing with the kids also result in either them or I saying the above statement over and over....!

reindeer mask
Ebony Shae Designs Rudolf the Reindeer Mask PDF Pattern
Tell us about your process, how does a mask go from idea to pattern? 
bat mask
Ebony Shae Designs Bat Mask PDF Pattern

When I decide to make a mask, I usually google pictures of the real animal and try to get pics from every angle. I take those pictures and draw what I would like the finished mask to look like. If I can't get that to a place where I am happy with it, I don't start making the mask because I know that it will look wrong.

I then take the standard pupillary distance for kids and adults and make sure that my eye holes will work for both.

I then take the drawing and create pattern pieces from it. I use scrap paper for this and keep making the pieces until I know they will fit nicely. 

I then cut my first pieces of felt and sew it together, taking pictures as I go and writing down what I do. If a piece doesn't work, there is a lot of scribble, re-drafting, and deleting of photos from the camera.

I then type all this up, and using Corelle Draw, trace my pieces onto the computer and add them to the pattern. Turn it all into a PDF and voila, you have a finished pattern.

Then I have to bribe the kids to wear the mask so that I can take pictures!

lion mask
Ebony Shae Designs Lion Mask PDF Pattern
When you are not making masks, what are some of your other creative endeavors? 

When I am not making masks, I am knitting, sewing, crocheting, making cards, cooking, gardening (which goes hand in hand with the cooking). 
t-rex mask
Ebony Shae Designs T-Rex Mask PDF Pattern 

Do you have any new projects in the works?

I am waiting for the school holidays (we home school, so during the term I don't get much done on masks) I have a list of another 4 or 5 dinosaurs that I want to tackle. The way I am imagining them at the moment, they will be the largest in size in the collection...

Which pattern would you recommend for a beginner?

The best beginners masks would probably be the koala, penguin, bat, panda, bear and wombat. There are more that are fairly simple to sew, but they take more cutting out (like the lion or hedgehog). I do try to make most masks easy enough for someone with just basic sewing skills.

bear mask
Ebony Shae Designs Bear Mask Pattern 
To view the rest of Donna's creations please visit her shop, Ebony Shae Designs on Etsy....and make a mask or two...I am absolutely certain you could find some willing wearers!  

Thank you so much for sharing, Donna!  I think your masks are absolutely wonderful and look forward to seeing the new additions!  

No comments:

Post a Comment