(image from http://www.mythinglinks.org/ct~greenmen.html)
The Green Man is a well-known pre-Christian figure, frequently depicted in medieval architecture (he's in all the big cathedrals, like Chartres and Salisbury), and an archetype of our oneness with Nature. Really. Go ahead and Google him if you don't believe me.
The plaque-making process began with creating a mold from our own faces. Next week we will make the terra cotta clay impression from the mold, and decorate it with leaves and berries and perhaps glazes and paint.
Making the mold is quite an adventure. We were warned in the class description, but still . . . .
First we donned large trash bags as a kind of smock to protect our clothing. Then we put on a shower cap to cover every strand of hair. Then we slathered our entire faces--ear to ear, forehead to chin, including the lips--with a thick layer of Vaseline, making sure to rub it thoroughly into our eyebrows and any facial hair (there were two men with full beards in the class, and I can't imagine what they were thinking!).
Meanwhile, we were all trying not to hyperventilate, because of what's coming next. We had seen a video, so we knew.
When it's your turn, you sit down and lean back, and at the last possible moment you seal your eyes closed and cover your eyelashes with a couple of big dollops of Vaseline. Then your partner applies strips of gauze soaked in plaster the consistency of pancake batter all over your face. It's goopy and drippy.
After the application is complete, you sit for about 3 minutes to let the plaster finish drying. You can kind of feel it pull away from your face when it's dry enough. Then you scrinch up your face in various directions and in a perfect world, the mask just lifts off. This is the moment of truth for your Vaseline application. You will quickly discover whether you used enough.
Even where I missed a spot, it wasn't that bad. It's a lot like the old band-aid dilemma: better to remove it slowly and tweak each hair at a time, or just rip it off? But on a larger scale, and with your eyelashes.
Oddly enough, sitting under the plaster isn't too bad. I thought it would be very claustrophobic, and that my nose would itch, and that I would be nervous the whole time. It was actually kind of soothing. You can hear everything everyone is saying, and imagine them bustling around the room, and you don't have to react or interact at all. It's kind of like being invisible.
Of course, making hand signals to my partner about how to use the camera probably helped pass the time, too.
Afterwards I was so relieved and we were all so busy yakking about how much fun it was that I completely forgot to take any pictures of the mold itself. Next week, for sure.
And you should see how dewy and soft my skin is! All that Vaseline produced better results than any lotion, potion, or professional facial ever. I may have to do this more often.
Without the plaster.