Mask Making

Artist Unknown, pictures obtained from Simply Masquerade,

Even though the Republic seemed to be in a declining state, the Venetian economy was stimulated by the mask-making industry.  Mask-maker guilds were formed and a plethora of mask-making shops began to flourish.[1] A Venetian mask can be made of leather or plaster or of traditionally papier-mache.  The process of creating a papier-mache mask involves, first, constructing a clay mold of the mask shape desired.  Using the clay mold, plaster is then poured into the mold and left to dry.  After the plaster has dried, the clay can be removed and a buffer layer of Vaseline or other similar substance may be applied to prevent certain parts of the mask from adhering to each other.  Once the buffer layer has been applied, a mixture of papier-mache is then added.  Papier-mache consists of paper and sometimes other fabric materials that have been mixed with a type of paste.  Applying a heat source to the papier-mache will allow the material to dry more efficiently.  To give the mask its final shape and form, tempera paint can be applied and the artist may sand the mask to refine the edges.  The final steps in mask-making procedure are to express artistic license in decorating the mask.  Most masks are hand painted and embellished with a number of adornments such as gems, beads, glitter, and more.[2] Since the masks come in an expansive array of styles and designs, it is difficult not to find a mask to suit one’s character or the character they wish to be.

[1] Delia Orlando and Katrina Brown. “Souvenir of the month: Venetian masks.” Travel Holiday 180, no. 7 (September 1997): 17. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 9, 2008).

[2] “Histroy: Venetian Mask Making,” Simply Masquerade, (accessed September 3, 2008).

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