Masks at Midnight

by Chantal

This is the first piece I’ve made that is more thoughtful and creative than the usual fused glass that I work on, and trys to encompass some of the feelings of nostalgia, narrative, and secrets that I have been talking about. The piece was based on a beautiful Victorian trinket box (1880) that I found on ebay. The box itself is small, and has a wonderful romantic femininity about it so typical of that era. I wanted to build a narrative around that, something that suggested glimpses of past loves and seductions.

masks at midnight box - chantal powell

masks at midnight box - chantal powell

The box contains seven layers of glass with found objects between the different layers. It’s difficult to photograph but as you look through the glass and move the box around you can see glimpses of the different objects, from the visually obvious vintage lace in the top layer to the barely visible peacocks feather and old sheet music at the very bottom. I wanted to try and give the feeling of looking in, being granted just a glimpse of someones intimate memories and emotions. Peering through the layers of glass hopefully giving the feeling of trying to look through layers of time.

inside - masks at midnight

inside - masks at midnight

Precious objects (vintage buttons and single pearl) are in the lid to suggest the value of personal memories. I like the idea that the items or memories in the box retain some mystery to the viewer, leading the person to bring their own associations, create their own story,  and thereby form some personal relationship with the piece.

detail from lid

detail from lid

The name of the piece is taken from the line of poetry “masks begun at midnight” that is included between two of the glass layers. It was from a Robert Browning poem (A Toccata Of Galuppi’s – 1855) out of an old poetry book I found in a charity shop. The entire poem can be read here: http://faculty.stonehill.edu/geverett/rb/galuppi.html

 

I really enjoyed making this piece, although my technical abilities are pretty basic at the moment and there are already some things I would now do slightly differently with it.  I’m working on a second box at the moment, a pretty antique wooden one with an old decoupage design scratched away in the top. I would love to know what people think of this first one – any feedback would be gratefully appreciated!