Nicco, My Mask

By Joseph Clark


First, I would like to talk about the wood and how I experienced it. The wood we used was called basswood. This is a very popular wood used by the carvers. First we checked out the grains on the wood we were going to use. We wanted ones with fairly straight grains. The piece I chose was one that was harder than most pieces. A famous Native carver named Kathleen Carlo came and showed us some masks that she and other Native artists made. This was to give us some ideas on what to do. She showed us some of her ideas like putting bullet shells in the sides of the masks and placing hair in them. The masks are usually in the form of animals that are special to the native community. Masks from different ways of life tend to express a little something different and special in each of them.

The carving process took place right after we learned about masks and had seen some by Native artists. At first working with the tools and the wood was very difficult. With the help of Kathleen and Jean (her sister in law) the work came easier with practice. I had a particularly hard piece of wood so working with the standard chisel tool did not work. Kathleen brought me a special mallet and chisel for hardwood, so I could work faster and more efficiently. Carving took a lot of patience and slow steady work. You have to be careful not tear a chunk of wood out, which could damage your design. The particular design I chose was one I had designed from ideas of other masks and what I allowed my mind to free flow out of my pen. Once I had begun the carving process, I decided to change my design a little bit. The eyes changed from enlarged alien eyes to smaller more Native Alaskan eyes typically found in Native Alaskan masks. I really only used my layout design as a basic idea to get me going. Once I was carving and shapes began to form, I began to look at my wood and design and would begin to kind of follow the design and let the shapes naturally come out, then IŐd leave it at that. While creating my mask, I was allowed to see emotions from inside of me. This was possible from allowing them to come out of my hands onto the wood. I also was allowed to get in touch with my creative side, a side I donŐt use very much. This project allowed me to become more patient and be able to create something. I feel being able to create something is special because itŐs a part of us, which we have allowed others to see through an object, which we have taken our time on and put our hearts into. "Nicco" is the mask I created and it is very special to me because I just let my feelings free flow out of me and create this mask. My mask expresses my creativity and my free flowing nature.



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