Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Willow Mask:

The Hexmaster's Apprentice:

The Old Hexmaster's away,
So I'll practice MY art.
I’ll work wonders and
His spirits will obey...

So start
walking, Old Broom,
to the well
and fetch some water
for my bath.

Voila! ~ this rag's a coat
that suits a slave.
Have a head ~ AND
zhazam ~ two legs.
Here's a bucket -
on your way!

Ha! He's reached the well
lickedy-split -
got his bucket full,
and back as quick as quick.
In no time, the tub's filled up ~
Ack! Now he's filling
every pot and cup.

Stay! Stay!
You've brought enough!
Egads! I've forgot
the words to make
it stop!

You fiend of Hell,
with wooden face,
cease the flood,
or with my axe
I'll split
your head for good! ~ Take that!

Oh no. ~ each half's got legs ~
and worse, and more,
both bringing buckets through the door,
and pour
a deluge on the floor.

At last! Here comes
the Master! Hurry! Help
me, please! From
the spirits I've evoked
I beg relief!

"Into the closet gloom,
return again, Old Broom.
Be as you
were before,
until I
call you out
once more."

(my version of Goethe's 1797 poem)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the English name of a poem by Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling, written in 1797. Paul Dukas composed a tone poem, L'Apprenti sorcier, on the same theme, and it was this music that Walt Disney appropriated for a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It was a better fit than some of Disney's efforts - Disney informed Igor Stravinsky that he intended to use "The Rite of Spring", as it's called in English, in Fantasia, offered the composer a ridiculously small sum along with an warning that since it was composed before international copyright laws could protect it, he intended to use it with or without Stravinsky's permission.
After the movie was shown to Stravinsky, he was asked what he thought of it ~ "I do not wish to comment on an unrelenting imbecility." was his reply. But I digress.

Recently I took on an apprentice myself, and every time I return to the studio I half expect to encounter brooms with buckets sloshing through a flood. He's been after me to make him a mask, of the ancient willow tree in the old forest that grows now only in the imagination of dandyland. Yesterday I gave in and started work on the mask.

For some reason I had it in my head that the thing was supposed to be blue, so as a shortcut I started by placing plastic wrap over his face, along with willow weeps, secured in place with torn bits of the tape house painters use to mask things they don't want paint on. Then I coated the thing with "black earth", a synthetic paste made to simulate the walls of a painted cave in France - (yet another plastic simulation of an older sorcery.) After it dries I'll model on the bark and cut holes for the eyes, etc, and then paint it all. I thought you might enjoy seeing the beginning of the process.


SBD said...

whoa...... The transformation is mindboggling, even when viewed on my iPhone

Dan Dutton said...

He's wearing it to "The Ball" ~ ah, youth!

Apifera Farm said...


Dan Dutton said...

Well the Apprentice is thrilled & I'll have to say, looked pretty darn good in it. I'll make a pic of him wearing it when he gets back from the shindig.