From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Wednesday, March 11th, 2020:
Wow, so obviously yesterday was a big day. Here I was, watching the numbers, hoping we would hit that $3200 mark so I could do an update about the Autumn Festival masks like I promised. Instead, thanks to four incredibly lovely people, we just sailed right tf to the total goal and now we’re fully funded.
We’re going to publish a book, you guys!
The campaign ends next Wednesday morning (3/18) at 10 a.m. Eastern DST, so if you wanted to essentially preorder your copy of Trajelon and secure that backer credit on the special thanks page, you still have some time to sneak in a little pledge.
Thank you so much to everyone who got the fundraiser to this point. Your belief in me, in supporting indie artists, in getting diverse fantasy into the market, or simply in hot elf action is inspirational and I love you all. Thank you. Thank you.
And now, because we’ve earned it, let’s look at some pretty masks!
As the leaves turn in Evlédíen and the fall harvest comes in, as the air crispens and the days lengthen, the capital city dons its annual red and gold adornments and the elves of the Valley put on fantastical disguises. Beginning at dusk of a night in mid-Autumn, the entire city of Efrondel becomes one massive party until the dawn three nights later.
Last year, I rewarded my two $500-tier backers by crafting them a custom Autumn Festival mask of the sort that would be worn by the elves of Evlédíen in their revels.
One backer requested a peacock, which absolutely delighted me. It was the very best sort of challenge and I had so much fun bringing this lovely creature into existence.
I spent some time at the start of the project hemming and hawing over whether to work from a mask blank or whether to create one myself from a plaster cast (a skill that, weirdly, I have been carrying around without practical application since elementary school art class.) At the craft supply store, I stumbled on this birdish blank and felt that I could do something with it, so I snapped it up.
Obviously, it needed a LOT of work. More beak, at the very least. And the paper was a nice heavy weight, but I wanted the finished product to be a lot more durable. I built a beak and some brow contour out of papier mâché, gave it a good sanding, smoothed it over with an application of acrylic texture medium, sanded that, and gave the whole thing a seal coat.
Ready to prettify.
Pleased with the final beak.
This is where it got really fun.
One of the most delightful things about peacocks is of course the almost holographic quality of their feathers. The complexity of the colors. (This is also, unfortunately, something that makes this mask a bit difficult to accurately capture on camera.) No simple flat application of a single color would do for this fellow; I gave it several layers of several colors, ending up with this.
Really hard to capture an accurate impression of the paint effect in a static image. I tried to give it real depth and complexity.
And because there was no way I was going to escape this project without gold-leafing something (I really love gold-leafing things), this also happened before I headed into the final embellishment phase.
Then it was just a matter of asking the question, “How much stuff can I get on this mask before it collapses under the weight of its own opulence?” The answer was probably a bit more than what I gave it, but I didn’t want to kill it after all.
I hand-strung those beads myself.
I was so in love with this mask that I held onto it for several weeks with the permission of its recipient in the hope that I’d be able to deliver it in person, fearful of the damage it might suffer in transit. Sadly, that never happened, and eventually I had to very carefully load this pretty bird into the post. Fortunately, it arrived unscathed and its wearer was able to be a gorgeous peacock for Halloween.
The second mask was a bit more of a challenge, and I spent some time thinking about it before even beginning to work on it. That’s because its recipient simply gave me the guideline of “Red. Just… make it red.”
Well that could mean a lot of things.
What finally got me out of the indecisive conceptual phase was coming across this flamey mask blank.
Suddenly, a firebirdy sort of concept came to me. But because the idea was so simple, I wanted to focus on doing something really interesting, really flamey, with the texture.
This mask, from the beginning, wanted to be difficult. Difficult to plan, difficult to fabricate, difficult to bend to my will. The papier mâché absolutely refused, across several attempts, to play nicely with the material of the mask blank. The acrylic texture medium refused to come to a uniform texture. The paint refused to blend in the precise proportions that I wanted it to. The gold leaf refused to stay where I told it to. There were no red feathers to be found in any local craft store anywhere. Even the tube of glue I bought for the red gems was a dud. Oh, the whole thing was a disaster.
And yet somehow, in the end, it was also a thing of sublime beauty.
I ended up painting those feathers myself.
Fitting that the phoenix mask had to be born of such struggle. Could it really have been any other way?
And so, my friends, I leave you this evening with these gorgeous photos and my thanks for your support. When the campaign ends next Wednesday, it will go into a processing phase before Kickstarter releases the funds to me. This can take up to two weeks. During the wait, and now that I no longer have to be focused on fundraising, I’ll be working on formatting the text file of the novel to send to the printer. We already have a lovely piece of art from Scott Baucan all ready to be turned into a cover and the Trajelon bookmarks are in the works.
In other words, I’m ready to hit the ground running. Thanks to you.