Rolling the dice against the odds of the Universe, I have somehow been invited to a masquerade ball. It's a true masquerade, where gents wear tuxedos and the ladies wear gowns and all wear masks! I know there will be some gorgeous people attending, and so will I. What artist would not want to go to one of these, even an antisocial introvert like me? Behind my mask, I can pretend to be rich and worldly and nobody will be the wiser. Regardless if my tomfoolery manages to flutter coquettish hearts - or not, as my tomfoolery is definitely in need of an overhaul... does anyone even use tomfoolery anymore? - I have the opportunity to astound and astonish all with my hand-made masks!
There are still today master mask makers, and I am not one of them. I've never made a mask since probably grade school. But I do have several painting techniques gleaned from iconography, so I am confident in my approach.
The first stage to making a mask is the most daunting one. I managed to sidestep the manufacturing of a mask by purchasing blank paper masks from our local dollar store. This was truly lucky, since the quality of the papier-mâché was surprisingly good. It's not strong papier-mâché like you would get from the mask makers in Venice, but it should hold up for one night of revelry.
Despite the decent quality of the masks, they both fit very poorly. They both had sealed mouths and noses, which would make eating at the banquet difficult, let alone breathing, which is also important. I cut and reshaped the masks. They still fit shabbily, but an insert on the inside will make them comfortable. In comparison, Venetian masks fit beautifully and are extremely comfortable to wear for long durations. That's likely the hallmark of a Venetian mask master.
To make the paint bind properly to the mask, I primed them both with several coats of acrylic gesso. This is what you see in the picture above. I should have used soy-based gesso, since the acrylic stuff has a smell to it. I figure the masks will air out by the night of the party. In subsequent JSVB posts, I'll be sure to update my progress on these masks!