Whew! What a huge undertaking, and what wonderful, amazing small rewards! I mean small as in “miniature”, or specifically “fits inside a three inch square” (more or less). Several years ago I was invited to take part in a Polymer Clay Miniature Mask Swap by Sherry Bailey. I was in one of the several groups, and sent in my masks. Shortly thereafter I got my box of goodies, and kicked myself all around the room for not having been in every group—there were pictures included and I missed out on some real gems. I vowed never to repeat THAT mistake! And also to be in another mask swap ASAP. I ended up taking over the job and expanding the number of participants (my artistic greed knows little about bounderies or sensible work loads in some areas…)
So for the last few years, there’ve ben annual swaps that attract wonderful artists who ALSO want collections of these minimarvels. When announced, interested parties sign up for one, two, or three groups of ten. The SwapMistress (thats me, in this case) keeps track of who signs up, and fills the groups. We do a total of ten groups of ten people. For each group, the participant sends in ten masks, all signed/with a card and bagged. When they are all here, my husband and I alphabetize the incoming boxes for easier finding, and then start filling up Group Bags by lining up the brown paper lunch bags. Starting with 10 bags marked “A” we check the All Powerful List and take out each participant’s set one at a time–If Mary is in group A, we put one of her masks in each bag, and the same with the other 9 participants. At the end, each person in Group A will get a Group A bag mailed back to them, containing one of their own and one of each of the other 9 people’s masks. Sounds fairly simple, right? It kindof is…except then we do it for B, C, D, E, F, G, H I and J groups. This generally takes a full day–there are a thousand little masks. Then, the next day, my dear sweet hubby and I start packing boxes. If Mary was in Group A, D and F, we pull an A, D and F bag and put it aside for her in a grocery bag marked with her name and the groups (cross checking is pretty important!! ) with the mailing lable and postage she sent. This also takes a day or so…and then there’s the packing and sealing of the boxes, and three hours or so at the Post Office.
I, being the SwapMistress and therefore In Charge, get to violate the “three groups” thing and be in ALL ten groups. This is great because I get to keep one from every person in every group–no more missed gems!! Except of course for the people that make it harder to choose by sending ten that are all different for their sets. Then I still only get to keep one, but I DO have the opportunity to unbag and photograph them all, then rebag before putting them into the group bags. So I say it again—its a huge undertaking, but OH-so-worth-the -effort. I end up making and giving away 100 miniature masks, and getting 100 masks to keep. All are individual works of art showing a vast array of techniques. All have miniature size and polymer clay in common, and “masks” as a theme, but all are astoundingly different interpretations of that theme. I will be photographing the collection that I have gathered over this decade, and putting them in a book, but I’ll share a few of them here on this blog, and you can see some masks from previous years here.
The group of ten Warm and Cool Masks shown above was sent in by Karen Cowles. The two masks below made using the alcohol inks on polymer clay were sent in by Nina Owens. The light was fading and I only had time to take a few pics. I took more the next day, so watch for future posts! You can also see more at other participants’ blogs like these by Laurel Steven and Tonja . Click the pics to see them larger.