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Second Skin: Wolf Strap Headdress by Canis-Angst Second Skin: Wolf Strap Headdress by Canis-Angst
:star:Photograph by Luis Rojas:star:
LRojas.fotografia.com

This photo represents part of an extremely personal project. Lately, it seems like everyone on the internet feels a deep connection with wolves, and in general the "wolf community" turned me off from how much I love the animals. I didn't want to be just another wolfaboo, but that's when I realized the sad truth: I still cared about what people think about me.

I've grown up having to keep parts of my life secret.

I've dealt with bullying throughout elementary school to middle school, and things didn't magically get better in high school. These things happen. You just need to grow a thicker skin was a piece of advice people consistently gave me whenever I tried to ask for help.

So I grew a second one instead.

Identifying with wolves gave me a source of strength to pull from. In many stories, the legend of the werewolf came from men and women who would don wolf pelts to shape shift, with only their eyes remaining human. This project represents a physical wolf to wrap myself in the same way I wrapped my feelings of helplessness up in an animal that was able to rebound from near-extinction.

The headdress is made from a vintage wolf-pelt purchased third (or fourth?)-hand from a Native at a local Lenape pow-wow. Believed to originally be Canadian in origin, this wolf was taken for population control and then traded until the last owner had no use for him and decided to sell him.

I originally sent him out to be commissioned into a head-dress, but the pelt is in pretty bad shape as a result of a poor tanning job and it wasn't certain that the wolf would survive the process. I ended up giving it a whirl myself (which was nerve-wracking) but he came out okay. I purposely exaggerated the forehead a bit in order to be able to wear him as a mask as well as atop my head. He was ritually purified and was used in a ritual/shapeshifting dance with much success. I also ended up wearing him to Saikoucon, where I truly felt like I'd shape-shifted into another person.

The ReD that walked the floors with that wolf was confident. She smiled and it felt genuine. Luis Rojas helped me snag some photos of that girl to remind me that she--that I-- exist and it doesn't have to be a secret. He's an amazing photographer and an absolute blast to work with, and I'm looking forward to future collaborations.

I will accept comments and questions, but hate will be ignored and blocked. If you disagree with the use of animal parts, I respect your decision and ask that you respect mine by not commenting here. You can use your energy to instead make a donation to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, where you can make a real difference in the lives of animals that could use the support, not ones that have been dead for years.

wolfsanctuarypa.org/

I still need to add one more set of straps to the lower portion of this hide to wear anchor him for when I dance, but the temporary straps are working quite well and are practically hidden...with the obvious exception of the chin-straps you can see hanging lose. When tightened, the face narrows slightly to a more realistic look.
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:iconalextheinsane:
Alextheinsane Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014  Student General Artist
It was the most interesting costume at the con in my opinion because of the real fur and how it was put together. I felt a little weird watching you once and a while  since I'm awkward but the head dress and the fur was just amazing and you were beautiful in it. I wanted to buy one of the coyote masks but I had little money.
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:iconalextheinsane:
Alextheinsane Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014  Student General Artist
I'm wearing one of your tails right now. Its so soft and lovely ^w^ I loved this outfit you wore at the con :)
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I need to apologize because I am basically the worst person ever when it comes to responding to messages in a timely manner. Your comments really brightened my day and I feel horrible that it's taken me so long to thank you for them! I'm really glad my tails found good homes and that you're enjoying yours; I ended up wearing one of mine to school the other day to help me power through a long, long afternoon.

Thank you for the very lovely compliment as well! Truth be told, people who know me well are a little surprised by me at cons. I'm usually the quiet, awkward person...but that completely changes at cons. I wish being sociable like that was easy all the time, but at cons I don't have to worry too much about people thinking I'm weird xD. It was lovely meeting you at the con and if you're there next year, please don't hesitate to stop by and talk! Or don't talk. You can wave. That works, too! :)

Thank you again!
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:iconpatchkatz:
PatchKatz Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I love wolf headdresses, I've always wanted to have one myself, but it's hard to find anything like that here, and importing one is near-impossible due to customs regulations on organic products.
I'll find a way someday d:
You made a great job with this piece, it looks really natural on you.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much!
I wanted one for years but I was always iffy on where I got a wolf from. There's a lot of controversy over the hunting of the animals right now and whenever I saw one for sale within my price range and from a non-endangered population....it was almost always from Europe, and I can't afford to import from there for the same reasons. I did luck out though and I hope you'll be able to one day as well!

Thank you so much, I really appreciate the comment!
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:iconspaz-the-wolf-mutt:
spaz-the-wolf-mutt Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this is amazing! super jealous of you. what pow wow was that? all the ones i go to have either run out of wolf or wont part with any of theirs. (btw i saw you at that anime con in PA hi!)
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much!

And I go to a couple different ones--typically I go to the Noxen pow-wows in May/September, and this last year I went to the Benton pow-wow, too. They've had wolves at a lot of them, but it really comes down to price range (I don't really have $900+ to spend on a pelt), so it never hurts to leave a phone-number with any of them and say "I have $X I'm willing to spend, if you find something call me.

I actually wound up with another wolf pelt as a result, but the critter is in my freezer until I can find someplace close to get him tanned. xD
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:iconspaz-the-wolf-mutt:
spaz-the-wolf-mutt Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hmm i should try that, it would make my year if i could get one.

critters in the freezer? GUARD THE ICE CREAM! lul, i cant wait to see what you do with it.
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:icontheowl68:
TheOwl68 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is just incredible, it looks amazing. I can relate to your personal background re: the bullying. Oddly enough (or not), I too walked with the Wolf initially to help me find my strength & will to deal with being bullied. I love these beautiful creatures, regardless that they've come into fashion for the moment. Stunning work and more power to you! :heart:
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for your comment (and the fave!), it really means a lot to know someone else experienced the same things I have. I'm still not comfortable talking about the bullying--even with my friends, who were in the same position-- but things have definitely gotten better since I stopped keeping all of my life (spiritual, emotional, etc) a secret. xD

I actually ran into one of the girls who made my life absolute hell after months of avoiding a department store because I knew she worked there. Then I realized, "Wait, by avoiding the store, she's still controlling my life!", which was probably a very obvious thought to anyone else except me. xD But things are getting better, and I'm happy to know there are other people who took the same route I did. Thank you again so much for your comment!
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:icontheowl68:
TheOwl68 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are quite welcome! Being yourself can be one of the toughest things to come to terms with, so good for you! :hooray: You'll never walk alone, there are lots more out there like us :hug: Keep strong and you'll be amazed at what you're capable of. I guarantee it! =D
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:iconshadowclawfc:
ShadowclawFC Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome to the Pack, Wolf-sister. There are those of us who are truly of the Wolf and do not simply wish to be. Become one with the Spirit, and it will guide you and teach you to become a true part of the World.

I too, have to keep much of my life secret, but I have found friends with whom I can be entirely open, friends who do not judge even when my own parents do. Not all of society is to be avoided, you just have to find the right one. And in time, you will - let the Wolf guide you, and you will not be led astray.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I wanted to apologize that it's taken me so long to respond to such a lovely comment! Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them! I've definitely enjoyed working with wolf for some spiritual healing and it's been a lovely experience; I'm happy i'm finally able to open up about it, even if just a little.
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:iconshadowclawfc:
ShadowclawFC Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Even a little is a lot. And no worries on taking a while to reply - Life should always come first. To be honest, I didn't expect a reply at all, so simply receiving one makes me happy.
Run free, Wolf-sister.
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:iconfang-of-fenrir:
Fang-of-Fenrir Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013
Gorgeous pelt, and wonderful idea behind the image :)
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the comment! It brightened my day!
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:iconfang-of-fenrir:
Fang-of-Fenrir Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013
No problem, glad to hear it! :meow:


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:icondragonofyang:
dragonofyang Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That is incredible! I admit, I feel a connection to wolves, but it is more of an admiration and desire to be as loyal and honest as they are rather than a true spiritual connection that you feel.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! (I apologize that it took me so long to respond to such a nice comment!) There are several other animals I've resonated with (hyenas and opossums come to mind) but none that I keep coming back to time and time again like the wolves. I have a similar relationship with foxes--I do feel a connection, but it's also more of an admiration, a desire to be cunning on my part VS an actual connection.

Thank you again for the lovely comment!
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:icondragonofyang:
dragonofyang Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's nothing short of the truth! I especially love how you made use of the rest of the pelt to complete the second skin. :) No worries, I'm sure between life away from the computer and wading through those wonderful comments takes quite a bit of time. ^^ The foxes are always so interesting. Their sly nature makes most people automatically assume they're tricksters, but they are admirable in their own right.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Totems choose us, we do not choose them, and they make their mark on our lives and our spirit.  I may have two wolves among my totems (a timber and a dire) but I am feline, my spirit self being that of a tiger.  Sadly, for me to have a hide or any other part of a real tiger (teeth, claws, skull, bones, anything) is not only cost prohibitive, but I think it's also illegal...  Which for me is spiritually hindering.  But, I can have sculptures, photos, and other things.  You are very fortunate to be able to have such a spiritual connection to a creature that you are allowed to own actual parts of.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I am so incredibly behind at responding to comments, so let me first off apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I wanted to properly thank you for the lovely comment, because every-time I clicked my inbox it brightened my day. Two of my longest and closest friends have a connection to large cats (ocelot and tiger) and are in the same position. Though I don't have as strong as a connection as I do with wolf, I find myself limited with Hyena, even in terms of art/sculpture, let alone bones/teeth, but I'm making due with what I can find. For now, I do consider myself extremely lucky that I'm able to share the connection that I have with wolf and dance with him. Thank you again for your comment!
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
**hugs**  You are most welcome hon.  **smiles**
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:iconomfgitsbutter:
omfgitsbutter Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Fantastic
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! =DD And thank you for the fave!
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:iconbayonta:
bayonta Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Student Filmographer
How long did it take you to get your photos? I got photographed by them too, but I haven't gotten an email from them yet.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Was it definitely Luis? There was a couple photographers there. I received mine yesterday, but given the fact that he has a full-time job as well, I'd wait at least a week before e-mailing.
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:iconbayonta:
bayonta Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Student Filmographer
ok thanks
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:iconlibera--me:
Libera--me Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
It was Luis. I remember the shirt that he was wearing when he took our pictures.
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:iconvividoll:
ViviDoll Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Ahhh! I still want to pet it! XD

I would love to get my hands on something like this, but of a bear. I know I'm not quite the right size, but I've always thought they were my totem animals despite wolves being my very favorite animals.  Did you know? -the word "berserk" is said to have come from the Viking "Bear Sark" warriors who donned bear skins and took the spirit of the animals in battle, thus going "berserk." :D
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:iconskaegreytail:
SkaeGreytail Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional General Artist
  They were said to don wolf skins as well, along with bear. Funny this was brought up here. I was most likely a Berserker in a past life, and in that life, I donned wolf pelts. 
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:iconscrano:
ScraNo Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013
Beautiful mask! It looks rather authentic.

But - think about the fact, that the hide comes from
a living, sentient being.
In old days, shamans had to hunt their totem animal
and make from hide and teeth/bones their dancing costume together with their drum.
Their ritual clothes and tools were considered to be filled with a soul and a life of their own.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much!

That's something I've kept in mind right from the beginning. Actually, this wasn't the wolf I initially planned on purchasing, but there was definitely a connection with the pelt that I couldn't ignore. I work with a coyote as well, and I had the same thing happen; I planned on coming home with a traditional colored coyote, but as he went through what he had I was shaking my head and I saying "it's here, but this isn't it." He ended up pulling a red one he'd forgotten about, and it's got a personality I'd have never constructed on my own. It's definitely been an interesting experience. Because they're ritual tools, I keep them separate and not just jumbled in with the rest of my costume bits, but the wolf in particular just seems happy to be out of the attic.
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:iconscrano:
ScraNo Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Oh well, you are conscious about such things. It#s good for your shamanic experience.  I use my own drum, handmade, and I gave a compensatory offering of my own blood for it.
Not a sensational thing, just a few drops.
It is necessary to get some kind of redemption, not in the christian sense but the kind of balance as expressed by Egyptian Maat.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I would like to make my own drum eventually, but I'm rather at a loss of where to start. A few people have recommended drum kits to me so they're on my "want" list. I did make a small offering when I was working on the headdress (it was an accidental cut, and rather than waste it I used it at the moment) but I do have something a little more elaborate planned for the solstice. I ended up creating a small braid from left-over wolf hair, my hair, and sweet grass, and we'll be planting a pine tree. I know in this case it's not a traditional offering (I'll be doing the tobacco/corn/whiskey offering as well), but given that the land is recovering from being timbered it seemed appropriate to give this in return.
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:iconnightsgem:
NightsGem Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
He's a beautiful wolf. He reminds me of my own wolf mask and tail. They've worked together to help bring me out again about my connection with them.
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much. He's much prettier now that he's reshaped, too (the black points on his face were mooshed together when I first got him, giving him a weird zebra-esque appearance), and working with him has been a real treat. I've loved wolves since I was little and was lucky enough to see them in the wild--we were vacationing, and a pack drove a deer across the road and circled everything. When we told a ranger about it, he told us that couldn't have had happened because he'd been chasing the wolves for 30 years, but we had the footage to prove it. That moment probably stands out as one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me.
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:iconnightsgem:
NightsGem Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
That is a really cool moment. The only wolves I've seen were in a wolf sanctuary.
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:iconskaegreytail:
SkaeGreytail Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
This is utterly beautiful. I'd nearly kill for a full body wolf pelt, as I share that spiritual connection as well.

Reply
:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much. I've found a lot of people who were interested/connected with wolves earlier have outgrown them, but then a new generation (for lack of a better word) took their place. I haven't outgrown wolves yet, and though anything is possible, I don't see my interest in them waning.

I'm also going to shoot you a note in a bit, as I may have something that might be of interest.
Reply
:iconsessy-mizuno:
Sessy-Mizuno Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I can only imagine the work you had to have put into this, but I need to ask a question. It may seen dumb but I really want to know if you can see through it when you're wearing it and dancing? :D
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:iconcanis-angst:
Canis-Angst Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much, and yes, the eyeholes actually lined up perfectly with my face. (I was surprised because I thought for sure I was going to have to do some reworking to get the mask even, but it was done on the first try!)
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:iconsessy-mizuno:
Sessy-Mizuno Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome, and that's pretty awesome! It was meant to be. :)
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Submitted on
August 28, 2013
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