I wonder if a cop would actually look at me like this if I wore this costume. It’s the outfit a dangerous terrorist wears in the Japanese cartoon Naruto, so moderate suspicion is certainly reasonable. However, in the real world, this costume symbolizes no threat to anything except my dignity. Yes — I would look even dorkier than usual strolling down University Way with a big orange mask. So why am I making one?
For my art class this quarter, our main project is to make a “second skin,” an art work that must:
- Be an article of clothing that can be worn on the body.
- Make a statement about skin concepts discussed in class (skin as a container, skin as one’s identity, skin as a canvas, etc.). In this class, “skin” refers to pretty much anything that performs a function of human skin, like masks and other coverings. Thus, I’ll refer to peoples’ entire outer appearance as their “skin.”
- Represent a significant effort: about 5 hours per week.
- Be related to comics. Okay, it doesn’t have to. However, I already wrote a paper about comics, so I’d better keep up the trend…
The Madara mask is simple: orange with black swirls and a single eye hole. Thus, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make. So, to make the mask a “significant effort,” I’ll make it using the felting techniques discussed in class. It also needs to make a statement about skin concepts, so here’s what I came up with:
- It shows how I can completely hide and protect my identity. You can’t see my facial expression. You can’t see my mouth. You can’t even see both of my eyes. To you, my skin is my identity, so covering it covers who I am. Thus, like Madara, I can go incognito until the time is right.
- It emphasizes my control over others’ perception of me. When you look at the mask, the swirls immediately force your focus towards my eye. It’s almost an involuntary reflex, much like looking towards the center of a hypnotist’s swirl. This tendency reflects the power that someone’s skin has over you: by modifying their skin, clothes, etc., they control how you perceive them.
- The texture and color of someone’s skin influences how “wild” they seem. Animals are wild, and animals have fur. So, the furrier someone is, the wilder they seem, right? This statement goes along with #2, but is more focused on the texture of this mask — after all, Madara’s mask in Naruto is probably not furry.
As you can tell, I’m good at making up ridiculous reasons. It’s called “creativity” and it’s what art class is all about (provided the teacher accepts your creativity). Do you have any other creative statements about skin I could use?
Making The Mask
In class, we’re making our projects out of New Zealand Copperdale wool using the felting process. To practice this process, we made “grapefruit cozies” in class on May 9th. As you can tell, mine wasn’t very successful:
I’m using pumpkin-colored wool for the mask’s main material, and black wool for the swirl. However, I’m not sure if the swirl will be clear and sharp, or if it will just blend in with the orange background. So, before I build the real thing, I’m going to complete a small test piece this weekend:
Basically, I need to apply the felting process, which basically involves moistening it with 8 parts water and 1 part dishwashing soap, and massaging it with my fingers for a while. After that, I’ll rinse it with alternating hot and cold water to shrink it. If all goes well, the spiral will have fairly clear edges. Otherwise, I’ll have to figure out another way to make that spiral effect.
Does anyone have any suggestions for the mask/spiral effect, or want to borrow it when I’m done? Please don’t suggest that I cosplay as Madara — if I have to cosplay at all, there are other characters I’d rather cosplay…