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Making the Masks

Handcrafting Venetian Masquerade Masks

The creation of the paper mask base for a masquerade mask is quite straight forward - only a few tools and materials are required and no chemical substances are used.

After the clay mold of the mask shape is formed, (something which can take several months to perfect) liquid plaster is poured onto the mask mold. The plaster hardens and forms a negative mold of the mask, which is then removed, usually destroying the original mold in the process.

The negative mold is then lubricated and layers of paper and glue are cut and pressed onto the mold, using only the artists fingers. This ensures that the masquerade mask will have a smooth uniform cover, by preventing air from being trapped between the layers. Once numerous layers have been added to the mask, it is left to dry by a heat source.

Once the mask has dried and stiffened, it is removed from the mould and the artisan can begin cutting eye-holes and re-shaping the base mask for decorations. Once this is done, only decorations are needed for it to become a completed Venetian Masquerade Mask.

The decoration of the masks is very open to the creativity and artistic talent of the mask maker and can include techniques found from painting to theater scenery, and materials ranging from wax to fine fabrics and feathers.

You can see the different styles of mask decoration as you browse through the Italy Mask Venetian Masquerade mask range. If you look carefully it is easy to tell that they are handmade by the tiny difference in the details giving each Venetian Masquerade Mask a unique look. Feather masks may also have a difference in how exactly the feather looks and with other masks it may simply be the pattern traced across it, that differentiates it from the next of it's kin.

This technique is used for the majority of our masks, although our filigree masks are laser cut, as working with metal obviously requires another technique.

You can follow the picture sequence below from step 1 through to 32 showing how the masks are made right from the making of the mould through to a finished Bauta Venetian mask.
How Masquerade Masks Are Made
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