Welcome to QueenHare

Scroll down to read my blog, where I’ll be chronicling my artistic endeavours.

Use the menu at the top to find out more about my miniature book necklaces and masks.

And pop over to my Etsy shop to see what’s currently available:

Queenhare shop etsy

If you’re interested in commissioning a mask, book, sculpture or anything else do leave a comment or contact me via email, Facebook or Twitter:

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FolkEast

I spent last weekend at FolkEast, one of the biggest Folk festivals in the area.  It was my first visit to a festival (apart from an afternoon many years ago at Jimmy’s Sausage Festival…) and my first attempt at running a public mask-decorating workshop, so all in all I was a little nervous!

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I shouldn’t have worried: everyone I met there was lovely.  I met so many interesting people who stopped by the stall for a chat about everything from folklore and masks to woodcarving and leatherwork.  The workshops were great fun, and it was wonderful to see people’s own designs emerging as they worked on them.  Everyone who took part, children and adults, were all so creative.  It actually brought a tear to my eye at one point!

I’ve added photos from the workshops to my Facebook page but here are just a few of them.  In all the busy-ness I didn’t manage to snap photos of them all, so if you have any I’d love to see them!

Snape Maltings Vintage & Markers Market

I had a lovely time today at Snape Maltings Vintage & Makers Market. It was my first attempt at a stall to sell my masks and books, and I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day!  It was a very sunny morning, and my stall was right beside the river with picturesque views out across the marshes.

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I met some lovely people and chatted about masks and books to everyone, and even sold enough to make a profit. It’s been a great experience, so I’m definitely hoping to do another fair sometime soon.  I’d better get a move on and look up local Christmas markets.

In the meantime I’ve added a first batch of miniature books to my Etsy shop HERE. I managed to get five sets of photos done before the light faded this evening, so there’ll be more to come soon.

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Three Day Drogon

On Monday morning I realised I hadn’t started work on my dragon for the St George’s Day celebrations (the next Saturday) at the bookshop day job.  Luckily I had three days off in a row…

Having not really done this before I had no idea whether I’d be able to finish him in time, so I opted to make baby Drogon from Game of Thrones, as then if I missed the deadline at least he’d be useful for a Game of Thrones display when the next book comes out. Admittedly he’s still very rough around the edges (I’d wanted to cover him in scales, but that would have been a massive extra job), but still- he dried out in time which has to be some kind of miracle!

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I even managed to take photos while making him, so here’s a little ‘How to make a paper mache dragon in three days’ tutorial.

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Hello Again

If 2014 was a year of travelling and creativity, 2015 was a bit of a flump.  Various health-related things conspired to stop me making the things I wanted to make, but *touch wood* I’m starting to get back on track.  In fact, I’ve been managing to get quite a bit done since the start of the year, but wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a passing phase before committing in writing!

I have new masks in the making, new techniques I’m trying and new projects on the horizon. Fingers crossed for 2016.

I’ve been making a mess today (just for a change) by experimenting and comparing two methods of silicone mould-making. I made a simple mask shape and a lone horn to cast. I used proper RTV silicone on the face and homemade Oogoo (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/) on the horn, and here are my thoughts so far:

RTV is much smoother and easier to handle, but requires sacrificial brushes, syringes and mixing cups, and very accurate catalyst measuring. This one needs 3% catalyst, which means measuring cubic centimetres using a very small syringe. The catalyst may also be reacting with the rubber seal as it makes the syringe rather hard to compress: I’ll try a pipette in future. Next time I’ll also get a batch of silicone with a really fast curing time… this lot had a pot life of 40 min which I thought would be great: I could take my time and not rush, especially as it’s my first attempt. However, turned out it took a whole afternoon of re-brushing the stuff up the cast every hour as it ran off and pooled around the edges. 7 hours later now and I think it’s just about starting to set!

It’s not very cheap: I got a small value-range pot for about £7 excluding the shipping, but I’ll probably have to buy a thickener as well if I want to use it in this way again.

 

Oogoo stinks to high heaven. Think salt and vinegar crisps, but you’re in the factory where they make them and you’ve just fallen into the vat of flavouring and discovered it’s actually all just very strong chemicals. I’ve had the windows open all day and as it’s winter I’ve been gradually putting on more and more clothes, praying I don’t have to answer the door looking like something from a nordic version of Breaking Bad in mask, goggles and 10 layers of cardigans, clutching a flask full of light-blue goo.

On the plus side, it requires no accurate measuring, it’s made from household ingredients (bathroom silicone and cornflour), cures pretty darned quickly, and peels straight off the mixing stick and pot when set so nothing gets thrown away (other than the gloves that it inevitably ends up on, no matter how careful you’re being). It’s so sticky though, like trying to handle sticky bread dough without any flour. I’ll have to wait and see if it’s made a decent mould or left a load of air gaps.

I’ve yet to compare the two cost-wise. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much in it, but then the RTV usually has a hefty shipping charge, and requires disposable paraphernalia as well. And it *is* only a thin coat that I’ve applied so far. If it works, it probably more than justifies the cost though, as it’s so much more well-suited to the task than the Oogoo. I’m also not yet sure whether the Oogoo would react badly with the clay that I use: I’ve heard the acetic acid it gives off can have that effect, and if it ruined the clay it would be rather an expensive mistake.

A New Mask at Last

After Christmas I carried on with the cold porcelain, and I really think it has potential. You can add fresh porcelain directly on to a piece that’s already dried for a start. Here’s the Krampus face from the last post with a few more details. Now I just have to figure out how to paint him:

Cold Porcelain Krampus

I also used it to make part of this wand for a Harry Potter event.  I found a straight (ish) twig in the garden, dried and trimmed it.  I added details with cold porcelain, a glue gun and a marble, then painted it all black.  I then re-painted it to look like wood again and added some gold paint details.  Quite fun, give it a go!

Harry Potter Wand

… and some other little bits and bobs still in progress. I’ll be combining it with mask making next. Watch this space.

I finally found time (and a clear work surface) to make another mask sculpt this spring- my second since returning from Florence.

clay mask sculpt Clay Mask Sculpt

 

I had a few different ideas about what I wanted it to look like. I’d like to make a mask with rabbit ears soon, but for this face I felt the horns were better suited.

Mask design ideas

And here it is so far: cast, papier mache’d, popped out of the mold and trimmed.  Next stage is painting and finishing, along with another two devil masks and a lil Cthulhu who are all at the same stage.

Horned Mask

Cold Porcelain

On the run up to Christmas I had a vague notion of making some Krampus ornaments for the tree. I started looking into resin casting and lost wax techniques, got excited, and then realised they’d take quite a bit of research and investment in materials before I could try them. Option 2 was to create a mould from a sculpt and then use some kind of air-drying clay to produce cheaper copies. However, all the air-drying clays and paper clays I’d tried in the past were a bit rubbish. Then I stumbled across ‘cold porcelain’ which looked for all the world like some kind of air-drying sculpey, but made from cheap common household materials. Must be worth a go, right?

I tried this recipe: http://www.puffylittlethings.com/homemade-cold-porcelain-clay/ which uses corn-starch, PVA, oil, and lemon juice or vinegar. It’s worth watching the video beforehand so you know what to expect: my old 800W microwave took considerably more fifteen-second zaps than the recipe says to get the gloop to the right consistency. After seven or eight I took it out of the bowl and started trying to knead it, but despite liberally dusting everything with corn-starch it immediately stuck to my fingers in a gloopy mess and refused to behave. I gave up, washed my hands, and came back to watch the video again because I was so worried that it just wasn’t working. It’s worth persevering though: I zapped it a few more times and then tried to ignore the bits that stuck to my fingertips while I kneaded the lump for 10 minutes or so, and at the end I had something like a very soft sculpey. I didn’t manage to get any photos of the process (hands covered in the stuff) but I’ll have a go next time.

Cold Porcelain Experiment 1I started small and made a lump-with-rabbit-ears to see how the stuff behaved. I followed it with a tiny rose: adding a bit of acrylic paint in to give the colour. It didn’t work brilliantly. The main problem was that the cold porcelain was too soft so the petals started to droop as I worked on them and I ended up with a slightly bloopy rose. Still- it dried fairy quickly and the result was quite strong- something like super sculpey but without that brittle feel.

CP Heads

A little experimentation later I tried sculpting a couple of heads. Turns out cold porcelain’s great for ears and horns. The chap on the right turned out quite well, but in the background you can see my second attempt which looks a bit like a grumpy axolotl with horns… For these larger pieces I found the air-drying nature of the clay a bit of a drawback. As I worked, the outer layer dried to a leathery consistency but underneath the CP was still very malleable, resulting in a face that slowly squished and distorted the longer I held it in any direction. The leathery outer layer would bunch and wrinkle, and it was nigh impossible to fix once it’d happened.  Hence axolotl-face there.

Cthulhu Cold Porcelain

I also tried using one of my old Cthulhu silicone moulds to see if I could use CP that way. Air-drying inconsistencies struck again as the base (the only part exposed to the air) dried and warped while the rest stayed wet. After a day nothing had changed so I carefully extracted him and let him dry outside the mould before giving him a coat of paint. He’s cute in an artefact weathered-by-time kind of way.  I think CP + moulds could work, but the moulds will have to be shallow to allow the air to get to as much as possible.

The warping seems to be a pretty major problem unless I want to start producing wrinkly monster dolls (not impossible, but also not quite what I was planning). I started making another face for a krampus-esque visage, but after a few minutes he started to warp and go bug-eyed. I stopped, leaving eyes and nose on a head-shaped blob. A couple of days later I came back and tried adding to the cured CP. I expected it to detach as it dried and shrunk, but surprisingly it seems to work. Here’s the result so far- he still looks pretty weird as the first half warped, but as an experiment it’s definitely been useful:

Krampus Cold PorcelainI’ll be playing with this stuff a bit more in the new year… I think it has potential.