Monica Roxburgh Sears

is creating masks & art with natural & reclaimed materials




per month


Sheep mask from reclaimed materials, 2019

Welcome to my project Magpie & Mask, which brings together my 25 years of mask-making experience with a desire to create sustainable art from materials collected from the environment around me, both natural and reclaimed.

Some of you know me through my business Goblin Art (1999-2015), through which I sold more than a thousand masks to customers around the world.

Original version of "Curly Masquerade" mask, 2004
Synthetic cast neoprene

In those early days the masks were typically made from synthetic materials like slip-cast neoprene, vaccuformed thermoplastic, and acrylic paint.

I wanted to create art pieces that looked like ancient relics, or like something from a parallel universe that had never become industrialized.

Custom helmet mask, 2004
"When I See the Wild God", Llewellyn Books

But the more I grasped towards this artistic vision, the larger was the portion of my time spent in trying to simulate the appearance of natural materials.

So bit by bit a question grew in my mind: “Why not make the masks from natural materials in the first place?”

"Mask Night" at Echoes in Time, 2018
Photo by Lauren Johnson

So from 2012-2018 I immersed myself in the world of ancestral skills. I wove baskets, carved wood, and felted wool. I made plant-based dyes and collected colored earth to grind into pigment. And I researched the ancient mask and mumming traditions of my European ancestors. But my experiments in mask-making during this time would ultimately culminate into something both ancient and modern...

Revisiting the fox mask, 2019
Bioplastic starch and reclaimed burlap

As I learned about ancestral skills, I learned that “plastic" doesn’t have to be made from petroleum. Plants, animals, insects, fungi and bacteria have been building with natural polymers since the start of life on this planet—something our pre-industrial ancestors were well aware of, and often strove to harness or emulate.

Mask for Portland Mardi Gras 2020
Bioplastic + reclaimed cellulose, natural pigments, and salvaged materials

In early 2019 I made my first kitchen bioplastic mixture using a recipe on Instructables, and the time since then has been very exciting now that I finally have a way to integrate my years of mask-making expertise with the use of natural,  biodegradable, low-impact and salvaged materials.

Basic mask-making process with
 burlap and bioplastic starch

As a patron, you are invited into my studio to see detailed and step-by-step photos as I create new works and continue to develop my unique mask-making techniques. You will also have access to the specific recipes I use for bioplastic starch, flexible sculpting compounds, and natural paints.

On occasion I may also share photos of some of my earlier (Goblin Art studio) creations, in order to compare and contrast my old and new techniques and materials.

Tree hobgoblin from three different materials:
1. Synthetic cast neoprene, 2005
2. Paper mache over vaccuformed plastic, 2005
3. Bioplastic sculpting compound, 2020

I may also document the creation of other art forms made with natural, low-impact or salvaged materials. But masks will always be the primary focus I come back to.

"Earth Mother" (unfinished), 2020
Burlap, bioplastic and plant husks

"But what" you may ask, "are these masks ultimately for?" Well, there isn't a single answer to that question...

There is the excitement of creating, and of developing new techniques, plus the joy of sharing those and seeing what others create. And for being able to freely make things without seeing them impact the our environment in a negative way. Not so much for selling--after doing that for 15 years I am not in a big hurry to commercialize my art again! But for collaborative art projects certainly, when once more we can gather in person for procession and creative ritual and community celebration.

I look forward to that future time very much, but in the meanwhile there are many masks waiting to be made. I hope you will join me in seeing them come to be!
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 6 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 6 exclusive posts

Recent posts by Monica Roxburgh Sears

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