Masquerade masks have been around for centuries and are still popular items for any costume party or festive celebration. They are one of the symbols of the Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday" festival. Masquerade masks are also referred to as Venetian masks, which date back to the Renaissance era in Italy. They can be simple or extravagant and can be very easy to design. These masks can come in many different styles.
Half and Whole Masks
The half mask is probably the style that most people picture when thinking of a masquerade mask. They are held on either by a string that goes around the back of the head or a stick that the wearer holds up to her face. Masks that cover only a part of the face can also be asymmetrical in shape. Whole masks, of course, cover the whole face and usually have small holes in the nostrils so the wearer can breathe. Since everyone's face is a different size and shape, a whole mask should be molded to the individual wearer so it is comfortable to wear.
The base of the mask can be made out of paper-mache or casting stripes that are dipped into hot water to activate the stickiness. Paper-mache involves dipping paper strips into a mixture of glue and water. You can purchase premade mask bases for decorating at a craft store or a plastic mask from the toy section of a department store. If you make the base yourself, make a mold first by laying aluminum foil on your face to get the shape. Remove the foil from your face and start laying the paper strips down. Make sure the base is smooth and free of air bubbles.
The most simple and common eye shape for masquerade masks is the regular almond shape. Variations of the almond shape are wider or extend at different points of the eye. Another shape is the sideways tear drop, which can curl up or down at the outer corner. Cat's eyes are most common on masks for women because of the feminine shape.
Use white glue or a hot-glue gun to attach decorations to your mask. Anything goes in the making of your own mask, but masquerade masks usually feature an array of different feathers and sequins. Choose a color scheme for your mask and go from there. Use markers or acrylic paints to make the base the color you want, or glue fabric down. Glue sequins over the whole mask or just line them around the edges or around the eyes. Look at different pictures of masquerade masks to get even more ideas and inspiration.
- Photo Credit Masquerade mask from Venice image by HeNkiS from Fotolia.com
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