Birds of Inwood - Visit Teri's new blog about birds!

Birds of Inwood - Visit Teri's new blog about birds!
A visual journey exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

Weekend Frivolities DIY Edition: Venetian Masks

The previous post on taking black-and-white photos in New York in the snow could be filed under Weekend Frivolities, in that it's about making holiday gifts, but I didn't think it crossed the Bridge of Idiocy enough to qualify for this feature.

I've been promising to demonstrate how to make Venetian masks, but I think they're too hard for me to explain. First of all, you need to make a clay sculpture that looks like something, maybe a terrier or a cat, mix up some plaster in batches and then pour it over the sculpture, wait till it hardens, pull the clay out of the mold, and then start cutting up pieces of paper for papier-maché. That's just for starters. It's a big mess. I've cried any times.

The best way to learn how to make beautiful masks in the authentic tradition is to fly into Marco Polo Airport, find a hotel in Venice for a few days and then walk the mysterious streets of the Dorsoduro until you accidentally find the Ca' Macana shop.

The former architecture students who founded Ca' Macana in the early 1980s played a role in the revival of the Carnival, an event that had nearly disappeared for a couple of centuries. The shop made the masks for Stanley Kubrick's sexy Eyes Wide Shut (1999). I bought the fox mask (at left) from them as well as their book that includes step-by-step instructions.

To understand the creative process of these well-crafted masks, the section of Ca' Macana's website about mask-making classes features an informative video.

I have a mask I want to make, one that will be a perfect accompaniment to the southern funeral fan that I demonstrated last weekend. I'm going to call it Artist's Mutt. I'll post a photo if it turns out OK.*

Image at top: A Venice "street," with the Bridge of Sighs in the background. When I took the photo, I was fascinated by the fellow standing on the bridge in the foreground, because I thought for sure it was the ghost of Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini's 8 1/2.

SEE ALSO the post Weekend Frivolities, Making a Mask for Halloween, Part One for complete instructions.

To see examples of my unusual Venetian masks -all with some sort of twist, look for the illustration accompanying the following post:
Then We Take Berlin: Berlin in Lights Festival

* I eventually made the Artist's Mutt mask for Halloween in October of 2008. See it here.


  1. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Thanks SO much for this link.


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