Masks and Faces

Remember my Green Man project? It’s still in process, but not the part of the process that includes actually making anything. Here’s where you saw it last:

Yes, that’s paper and crayons. And that’s about the last I’ve done with it. However, like with other parts of my work this year, I’m learning a lot, reading, trying methods, and looking at other media with new eyes. My new eyes have noticed more faces and masks than ever, and I finally got the point — the Green Man is, in essence, a mask.

You can see faces and masks anywhere, in actual people you know, in your pets, and in flowers, to name just a few. The first quilt I saw incorporating a mask was in a round robin I was in several years ago.

Round robin unquilted top, center by Nancy Rehling.

Last weekend I visited the National Museum of Mexican Art, in Chicago. So much of the art included faces and masks. Here are a just a few. Where I managed to record credits, they are in the captions. Click on any picture to open the gallery.

The variety of ways we express faces is fascinating. These, and a few other things I’ve seen recently, give me all kinds of ideas.


Just a note — I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t compared types of fusible web, so I couldn’t claim to use the best one. Here is a blog post by Jessica at Sweetbriar Sisters with that comparison. Take a look. If you have comments on the fusibles you’ve used, or have other great ideas of how to appliqué in similar ways, please let us know below! Or tell us about faces or masks you’ve made in quilts or other art.

15 thoughts on “Masks and Faces

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh good! I know we each have our own ways of doing things and own style, but I learn so much from other people’s posts. It makes me glad to think other people can learn something from mine, too.

  1. snarkyquilter

    Yes indeed, sometimes projects have to show no visible progress while you make mental progress. If you do green man as a mask, perhaps you could shape the overall piece along the mask’s outlines, broadly speaking. Following all those ins and outs of the leaves would be a nightmare.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Interesting idea, to have the whole quilt shaped similarly to his face. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks for chiming in, and I’m sorry for my late response!

  2. Stacey Holley

    I love this post because when you said, “It’s still in process, but not the part of the process that includes actually making anything,” it made me laugh. It is so true! The thinking, researching, and finding inspiration is such a fun part of the process. It only seems like you’re doing nothing. LOL Also, you remind me that quilters are artists. Which makes me happy. Thank you, and have a great day!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Stacey. I understand that aspect of process better these days than ever! I took a better look at your blog today. Love the way you write! and am following now.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, museums are great sources for inspiration. Our University of Iowa museum has a world-class collection of African art, and there are many faces and masks in it. However, we still don’t have a building and the collections are spread out, so I’m not sure where those pieces are living now. (Our museum was destroyed in our 2008 flood. All the items were removed prior to the flood so no damage, but they aren’t centrally located now.)

  3. Kerry

    The fusible link was very interesting, thank you for sharing it as I feel it has been a real insight into the fusible world! I bought some Misty Fuse a while ago because I saw it was removable until you were happy with the positioning and then iron down securely. I liked Jessica’s idea of tracing round and using fusible at the edges, although the idea for me is to do it in reverse – have the centre of the shapes to be fused so that I can needle turn with enough of a gap to flip the edges under. Plus no pins to ever so slightly distort the fabrics – or stab myself either!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, I thought the fusible link was interesting, too. I see so many great posts from other people, and need to make a habit of sharing some of them.

      I’m learning the joys of glue — you can simple smear a glue stick on the back of an applique patch to adhere it to the background. That way it stays put, no pins in the way, and you can needle turn around. Might be simpler than using fusible. Try it and let me know! 🙂

      1. Kerry

        Cheers. I have been using Roxanne’s baste it glue which is OK but I tend to get more on me trying to dab a little! I also have a glue pen by Sewline – that I’ve used on English paper piecing (not a fan but it’s part of a Civil War sampler) which is OK – will have a bash with it for the applique as you suggest. Hadn’t though of the stick – doh! Thanks again xx


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