Halloween is a great time to look at and make masks. I love them. Not the icky rubbery ones that come in an identical succession from the molds, but the beautiful or haunting ones made of leather, lace or feathers, even paper. The ones that embody Venetian Carnival or the wearable artworks I found in the French Quarter. I really started to love them when I started to make them. (Don’t let me give you the impression that I’ve made a lot of masks. I’ve made some, in a handful of techniques). Just writing this post makes me want to take them up again.

Wearable Goblin Mask

The mask above is one of my favorite wearable masks. It’s light and comfortable and the interior is molded exactly to my face. The outside is decorated with cream silk (from my wedding dress – no, I did not wear this at my wedding), gold lace edging and black and gold feathers for the eyebrows.

Pit-Fired Ceramic Goblin Face

I love to make goblin faces. The more the eyes bulge and the bigger and more crooked the nose, the better!

There is no wrong way to make a mask. If you’re making a wearable mask you just have to go for it and hopefully not spend the whole evening holding it in place or bumping into things due to reduced visibility. They can be made of paper mache, stiffened lace, fabric, wire mesh, buckram  silicone, latex, clay (though not terribly wearable…), thermoplastic fabric or based on pre-formed blanks.

I’m not sure when I made my first mask. It was probably one of those kindergarten paper on popsicle stick affairs. The next I recall was made in a Jr. High art class and was a not too terribly clever minimalism black and white quartered face with red lips on a slip-cast ceramic form. I still have that. One of the most memorable was one I made in my freshman year of High School for a school play. It could have been Camelot, but I don’t remember the script calling for anyone to be turned into a strange creature. Regardless, I somehow ended up making a semi-pig from chicken wire, paper mache and paint. It had blue or purple rabbit ears for some reason and I had to look out the small snout holes. That was a learning experience.

Since that time I have been introduced to some excellent artists, learned to research both materials and methods and have taken a mask making class or two. Oh the possibilities!

For your viewing pleasure, some excellent masks from the internets:

Classic Venetian Columbine @ BlueMoonVenice.com

Dark Copper Fae Mask @ GoblinArt.com

GoblinArt.com is an early favorite of mine. Don’t quote me, but I believe these masks started out as inspired by the ballroom scene in the movie Labyrinth. The site has changed and I don’t see that info now. Regardless – these are some beautiful masks and the site is well worth checking out. One of these days I want to make my own Labyrinth costume and mask!

Lovely leather mask of copper and gold!

Goblin costume from DarkGardensLeather via MySpace

I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind this mask at Ojai Pirate Faire a couple years ago. He has an impressive portfolio of wearable leather art, though not masks specifically. Search DarkGardensLeather for more.

Lace Mask via ClutteredGypsy on Tumblr

I love lace masks. They can be fabric lace or delicate wire-work and go well with an ethereal costume flowing hair. I’m particularly pleased to come across this one. I can’t say with certainty, but it appears it’s a three dimensional form made of layers of stiffened lace.

High Fashion Halloween

masks via Buzznet.com

My last mask for your viewing pleasure. I have no idea what these are made of, but they are certainly eye-catching and unique masks. Check out Hannabeth’s  HighFashion Halloween images.

Now go forth and make good things for Halloween!


Creative Commons License Goblin face mask images by The Rogues of Thread (bythebodkin.wordpress.com) and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.