The Lincoln Imp

Something a little different this time. You may take this as either something a little off-beat with leather or me just showing off again. Or both, I’m still rather pleased with the result as this was my first attempt at sculpting.

Our younger child was one of those kids. Immediately after an act of the utmost diabolical evil, he’d suddenly turn into someone so incredibly sweet you’d momentarily stop contemplating infanticide. His grandmother didn’t like the only name to which he would respond, Destroyer of Worlds. To Nana, he was Prince of Imps. So when we were invited to a Renaissance Masked Ball, he simply had to go as the Lincoln Imp.

The Imp at a recent banquet, no doubt looking for a Bishop to trip. His clothing is the latest fashion in the 1640s, every stitch hand sewn by Glenda.

According to a 14th-century legend two imps were sent by Satan to do evil work on Earth. After causing mayhem in Northern England, the two imps headed to Lincoln Cathedral where they smashed tables and chairs and tripped up the Bishop. When an angel came out of a book of hymns and told them to stop, one of the imps was brave and started throwing rocks at the angel but the other imp cowered under the broken tables and chairs. The angel turned the first imp to stone giving the second imp a chance to escape and end up in another group of stories. So even in the 14th century, they knew the pulling power of a sequel.

The imp mask was made from five pieces. Two for the horns, two ears and the skull-cap. The horns are simple cones, cut as a segment of a circle with the two straight sides held together with edge-flesh stitching. A small wedge was taken out to help with the curve and stitched the same way.  The horns were then dampened and stretched into the curved shape. Ears were simple leaf shapes with folds and veins embossed with a butter-knife. I chose to give the imp an earing with a flower-shaped stamp. The skull-cap was a larger circle, with a small wedge taken out either side of the forehead and one in the middle. These edges were also secured with edge-flesh stitches to give it a curve. The eyebrow ridge was worked through from the back and hairs were then embossed from the front with the edge of the butter knife this time.

The ear showing the embossing and ear-ring and the top seam on the horn.

The “stalk” of the ears were pushed through slits in the appropriate places and secured in place with a couple of stitches, and then curved along the long axis to give them a bit of strength. The horns were sewn to a couple of strips of thin leather, which was then rolled and stitched to the skull.

Inside of the mask, showing shaping seams and ear and horn attachments. The small shaping seam under each horn can also be seen.

Selected red and brown paint to finish, with water gilded tips of the horns and earing. Once the paint was dry, I glued on some fur from an old fur jacket paying attention to the fall of the nap so it resembled the statue and covered all the seams. The ensemble was completed with a pointy tail. It’s had a couple of uses since it was made, and the son has settled down and become a lovely man in the intervening seven years. Infanticide is now only very rarely considered.

Finished mask showing fur, goldwork and eyebrow embossing.

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