On my previous blog, Venetion Masks – Made In China?, I briefly talked about the difference between the traditional Venetian Masks versus the mass produced Venetian Masks you could find in Las Vegas and the piazzas in Venice.
In this chapter, I will explain how a traditional Venetian Mask is made. Traditionally, Venetian Masks are made from papier-mache. Papier Mâché, (French for “chewed paper”, [papje maʃe], English /ˌpæpi.eɪ ˈmæʃeɪ/ or /ˌpeɪpər məˈʃeɪ/), is a malleable mixture of paper and glue; or paper, flour, and water that becomes hard when dry.
The process of Venetian mask making begins from creating a plaster mold for the mask. Once the mold is created, the artist must lubricate the mold. The lubricating process is one of the most essential steps of the entire mask creation process. If it is not done properly, the mask will most likely get stuck in the mold after it is dry.
The image below depicts a workshop in-progress carried out by one of the three traditional Venetian Mask shops left in Venice. When we visited the store, the owner of the shop who was also the artist, was conducting a workshop for a group of students. The rectangular gray papers set on the table were the papier maches he used to demonstrate the creation of traditional Venetian Masks. On the image below, the artist dampened the papier-mache with starch water to soften the paper before shaping it into the mask mold.
After he had shaped the papier-mache into the mold, he placed it carefully into a special oven where it was dried. After it was dry, he removed the mask from the mold and gently cut open the eye holes of the mask.
Next, he applied white paint as the base coat of the mask and let it dry.
When the base coat was dry, he continued drawing patterns on the mask with a pencil. Or, sometimes directly applied paints on the masks.
Once the mask was fully painted and dry, the artist varnished it for display on the show case.
For better and clearer understanding of how Venetian Mask is made, please watch the videos below: