How to make a Venetian Mask

How to make a Venetian Mask

Venetian artisans use many different techniques for making and decorating a mask. The description below highlights some of the key steps in the manufacture of a popular papier mache mask.
The making of a venetian masquerade mask starts with the making of the mould. A prototype of the shape of the mask is first made in clay. Then plaster, or gypsum, is put on top of the clay and this creates the mould.
When the plaster has dried, the clay is removed from the inside of the mould and the mould is ready to be used to make a papier mache masks. The mould is also known as a stamp.


Making a Paper Mache (Papiér Mache) Mask

To create a strong papier mache mask that is comfortabke to wear, pieces of papier mache are glued and worked into the mould.

Brush vaseline into the mould to stop the mask sticking

Brush vaseline into the mould

Wet the recycled paper

Wet the recycled paper

Press small pieces of paper mache into the mould

Add small pieces of papier mache

Apply strong wood glue between layers of paper mache

Apply wood glue between layers

Fold in the edges of the paper mache to add strength

Fold in edges to add strength

Allow mask to dry and remove from the mould

Dry and remove mask from mould

Vaseline is brushed into the mould to prevent the paper from sticking to the mould and to make it easy to take the mask out when it is finished The paper, typically 400grams made from recycled clothes, is wetted with wall paper paste to make it easy to fit the mould’s shape The wetted paper is torn into smaller pieces and worked into the mould with fingers. Pressure is applied to make the paper fit the shape of the mould Two layers of paper are used and held together with a strong wood glue. Pressure is applied to remove air bubbles from between the layers The paper edges can be folded back in to give the mask extra strength. Otherwise the mask is cut to size after it is removed from the mould Finally the mask is dried and removed from the mould. Leaving the mask to dry in the sun while it is still in the mould helps to retain its shape.


Decorating the Paper Mache Mask

After painting, the Venetian mask can be decorated with a range of different materials including beads, glitter, feathers, resin and gold leaf.

Decorate the mask by applying glue before the glitter

Apply silicon in shapes

Decorate the mask by applying gold leaf on top of the silicon

Apply gold leaf on top of silicon

Decorate the mask by rubbing off the excess gold leaf

Rub off excess gold leaf

Decorate the mask by brushing off the excess gold leaf

Smooth gold leaf with a brush

Apply glue in the shape of decorative patterns

Apply glue in shapes

Pour glitter on top of the glue

Pour glitter on top of the glue

Apply silicon in decorative shapes to form the foundation of the patterns Gently apply gold leaf on top of the silicon to give a gold finish Remove excess gold leaf by rubbing on top of the silicon with your thumb Use a soft brush to remove any final excess gold leaf from the mask If the mask is to be glittered then glue in first applied in decorative shapes Glitter is then poured onto the mask and it sticks to the glued areas


Adding the Finishing Touches to the Mask

The mask is finished with transparent varnish to protect it or bitumen based varnish to age it. To hold the mask they can be finished with a stick to hand hold them or ribbons attached to tie the mask to the face. so that they can be tied to the face.

Apply varnish to protect the mask

Apply varnish to protect the mask

Apply bitumen to age the mask

Apply bitumen to age the mask

Clean excess bitumen off from the mask with spirits

Clean off excess bitumen

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A quality transparent varnish used on furniture is brushed on to the mask to protect it A bitumen based varnish is brushed on to the mask to give the mask an aged look Excess bitumen varnish is then cleaned off of the mask using white sprit Braiding is added around the outside edge of the mask to make the mask more noticeable Plumes of ostrich and cockerel feathers are glued to the top or side of the mask Sticks are glued or bolted to the side of the mask so that the mask can be hand held