This sculpture is titled "Joyous Noise." It is 48 inches in diameter and made from the following materials: Feathers from macaws, parrots, conjure, peacock and parakeet. Mastodon ivory from Siberia, abalone, gourd, heart of agave bloom stock, fiber of agave leaves (for cordage), small amount of sawdust from African mahogany and conifer resin from Sky Island area of S.E. Arizona. This piece is now in a private collection.
I was asked how long it takes to make a piece like this and I answered that first it took five years of collecting feathers to have enough to start. Then I was lucky enough to have meantime been growing gourds, attending the annual gem show for years before acquiring the ivory....the abalone drifted in from some gypsy trader. The agave blooms once at the end of its life then dies and the stalk has to be collected and dried for a year. While that is going on the leaves have to be pounded to extract long, thin fibers which have to be washed and twisted into rope. The leaves are full of caustic pulp and difficult to work with deformed hands that do not accept gloves. The inside of the gourd is painted using paint from charcoal or ground minerals and spit...applied with a brush made from my own hair, a stick and fiber from some desert plant. The design is a traditional S.W. design originating in a state of shamanic trance.
Once the gourd is painted and the core filled (sorry, secret technique) construction can begin, but getting the resin requires several days at altitudes above 8000' to collect enough. Every feather has to be set individually, which is to say there is no easy way to pre-drill all the holes and place the feathers. This part of construction takes a good 3 weeks.
So all-in-all I'd say it is well over 200 hours...probably closer to 300 hours per piece. Much of that time is spent in "discovery" of materials, making friends with giants of the forest, working in the garden, harvesting the bones of desert fauna, etc. Very organic, meditative communions with the Earth. It is still, however, part of the process and as necessary as the design, which has to evolve during construction...I never know where the piece is going beforehand.
Since acquisition of feathers is the crux of the process...I appeal to bird owners and/or breeders to collect molted feathers and donate them or sell them at reasonable prices. Bird sanctuaries I am happy to build sculptures for to sell on their websites as fundraisers in exchange for leftover feathers. Let's talk, but don't wait too long.
 Look for the last in this trilogy of sculptures sometime after the first of the year. It is a memorial for a fallen angel titled "Resurrection" and (I hope) addresses how spiritual love binds hearts even when individual rituals may tend to divide.
Om Shanti Om,
William Moonshadow


This is a medicine mandala. This one is titled "Epiphany." It is 50 inches tall and 42 inches wide. Like every one of its predecessors, this piece was designed to be placed in nature on a site sacred because of its lack of intrusion by humans, including audible intrusion.

    All the feathers I use come from from local owners and/or caretakers of exotic birds who collect molted feathers and sell them to me. It took over three years to obtain enough macaw feathers for this piece.

    The feathers radiate from a hub made from a gourd I grew. The gourd is painted on the inside in an archaic design from indigenous peoples of the American Southwest. This is done so the fragments of the gourd when it has broken up from exposure will resemble pottery shards. This acts as a sort of footprint and continues to reverberate with the prayer that was said at the time of installation. The pigment for the paint came from ochre I collected and ground on a mano and metate (Native American grinding stones); the brush was made from a stick, my hair and indigenous plant fiber. 

     Other materials include: abalone, fiber from the pads of prickly pear cactus, and resin from conifers in the Mts. of S.E. Arizona.

Visually, this piece was designed to create intense illusions of spinning and strobing. By staring at the center at eye level and concentrating mental energies in the center of the forehead, a person will start to experience these illusions after a few moments. Any familiarity with visual meditation techniques will heighten the awareness of these illusions and can result in total loss of any sense of form as a person's vision becomes a mass of shifting colors and patterns. It is best to stare at the piece with the eyes "looking" at the center, but "focusing" on the four red feathers in the back. Naturally, in three dimensions it is a lot easier to experience these effects.

       It is my intent as an artist to create beauty and open the mind by utilizing materials that would either be discarded or that don't immediately bring to mind function; such as prickly pear pad fiber for rope, or dead heart of agave. Life is a transitory reality that is full of beauty and opportunity that is often never perceived by people participating in it. I have tried here to create something that makes ordinary people aware of possibilities they may not have otherwise considered. And to send a personal message that it is not necessary to conform to popular mediums or rigid ways of perceiving what art or communication is, while at the same time creating a very light footstep as far as resource depletion or pollution goes.

       Although this piece was given to someone else, traditionally I place them in nature because I believe in a Divine Creative Energy and this belief leads me to believe that the best of my work can be offered as a private prayer and will be appreciated.

---William Moonshadow

images copyright William Moonshadow 2002
please respect the artist's copyright
email William Moonshadow


webspace provided by: