[Coastal] Mask making for Central regions 12th night

willowdewisp at juno.com willowdewisp at juno.com
Mon Dec 1 01:16:51 PST 2008

How to make a Venetian Carnival animal mask<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Duchess Willow de Wisp
I have never made a paper mache mask so the first thing I did was to do research.  I looked at modern Carnival Mask and discovered that Mask making in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Venice had almost totally disappeared under Fascism and was started up again the 1980. I kept up looking because there was some evidence that they had based modern masks on period sources. 
Carnival of Venice
Mascaras Venetians 2006
This one is fun to watch not historical
These are the sites that had period pictures of period mask. 
Medieval mask 
This is a great site with lots of period pictures
Inspiration for a 16th century mask 
 Here is a site that covers most of the period mask
I read the information on how the period masks were done. Check this site out. 
La Fondazione
I decided that the true period method took somewhat too long for me and involved too many steps
 I then went to the web for “How to” on paper mache masks.  I decided to adapt a method using aluminum foil. And combine it with some of the traditional methods. By doing this I was hoping to produce a more finish product. 
In one traditional method the mask making will use clay and make a sculpture of the mask and using this molded piece make a strong mold and coming in from the back create the mask. In my experimentation I discovered you need to work form the back if the mask has a long or hooked nose because if you work from the front you will need to destroy the mold to get the mask off. I suppose if you are not afraid of destroying your original piece you could mold your sculpture and use it to put your paper mache directly on it and just dig the clay out of the back. 
Some techniques suggest working from a life mask or directly on a person face. If you are doing the mask making on a person’s face make sure put a heavy layer of lubricant on the person to keep the mask from sticking.  What ever method you used if you are make a negative mold or building from a positive you need to make the features big. If you make the mask too tight the person can not move their face to talk. 
I needed to make four masks so I chose to use a plastic mask I purchase at a craft store and aluminum foil. I could have shaped the foil over my own feature but the face mask fitted me so I just shaped the foil over the plastic mask. It I was making one mask I might of just used the plastic mask as a base.
I was trying to make a fox mask so I then went to the internet and found images of foxes. I looked at fox mask and got a general idea of what I could do with a mask. I found cartoon images to be the most useful because they have simple lines.
Once I had my design I fitted the first layer of foil and then took more foil and built the nose up and made a bottom to the jaw.  I did not put the ears on at this time because I wanted to enforce the aluminum foil so it was stronger before putting weigh on the mask. 
I then took paper I had torn and covered the paper with paste. You use torn paper because the torn edges mesh better. I put my first thin layer of paper mache all going in one direction and overlapping.    It took 24 hours for this layer to dry. I kept layering in different direction until the mask felt strong enough.  I then made the ears and put them on with a couple of layers of paper and hot glue.  I had to reinforce the bottom jaw to make sure it was attached to my mask. I used wire to wire it on.  I took paper and chopped it up in my bender like I was making paper pulp for paper making. I mixed this with my glue and used this as molding clay to build up areas.  I then put on gesso over the whole mask to get a smooth finish. It is very important to let all your paper dry before putting the gesso on. I once made the mistake of not waiting and the paper mache started rotting and that is not nice. 
I know you can bake paper mache and the traditional technique talk about it but I haven’t tried yet. If you bake your mask please post and tell everyone how it worked out. 
I am now painting the mask and we will see how they come out at 12th night. 
Here are some sites that might help you:
How to make a Venetian Mardi Gras Mask Paper Mache
This video will get you started
How to make a Mardi Gras Mask
This has a few more pieces of information
I hope this is of some help
Please show me your mask at 12th night. 
I am offering prizes for best animal mask at 12th night. 
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