I only got a little work done on the firebird mask today, but here's the progress so far.
Since the mask is primarily going to be painted in yellows and oranges, I dyed it with a yellow dye. Think of it as tinting your canvas - it unifies your colors and makes everything look more natural.
If you look back on the post containing the color sketch, you'll see that there are feathers going around the outer edge of the mask. Originally these were going to be all real feathers, but after contacting the person commissioning the mask, we decided to go with leather feathers. This will end up giving the mask a 'sturdier' look, as well adding more interesting texture and dimensionality to the existing base leather mask. Real feathers (the curving variety) will be added later. As seen in the image above, I cut out feathers from scrap pieces of leather. The lines in the feathers are done with a swivel knife. These feathers are also dyed, and shaped while still wet with the dye. Once dry, they will keep their shape.
Although this was a sheet of 'error' feathers (I drew them curving in the wrong direction by mistake), it shows the first step in creating pieces out of leather. And I never really waste anything - these feathers will find a home in another project. Perhaps I'll make pendants or keypulls out of them?
And one last note - I've finally come to accept that my studio will never, ever remain clean. After every project I clean it, and it always ends up cluttering up again. Oh well.