30 July 2012

A mask display for your wall

Because I make masks and have been a masked player for so long, I get asked a lot about how to display a collection. Flatter masks such as Moretta and Bauta are easy; just hang them from a nail. But the long-nosed masks of the plague doctor and Pantalone, or most any of the decent zanni masks are especially vexing because the long noses make them tilt forward until it's always looking up at you. I prefer to see them displayed as they would sit on the face of a wearer.

There are commercial mask displays out there and some very fun glass and wooden heads you can tie them to just as you would your own head. But unless you have more space than I do, that won't display more than a couple of masks at a time. So we look to the walls.

To be honest, most of my masks live in boxes where they won't get dusty. But when I display them, this is how I do it. This is also the type of hanger I make for clients for a nominal add-on fee if they request a display for the mask I'm making for them.

They're easy enough to make for yourself, however, and I'm not really out anything if you decide to do so.

The design is a simple T shape: a block cut the width of the mask out of wood and a nose-shaped piece doweled in the center. I like to spraypaint them black or white because they don't compete with the mask.

On the back I secure a loop hanger at the top and a large sawtooth hanger near the bottom.  The loop is to hang from the nail and the sawtooth is to secure the mask to the display as shown below.
The mask is placed on the display and the ribbons fed through the sawtooth hanger as shown.  The teeth on the hanger keep most ribbons from sliding back out. If I use a silk ribbon or something more delicate I use just a piece of metal arranged the same way to keep from snagging the fabric.
My local hardware store carries a variety of nice hooks that push easily into Sheetrock or plaster and do not detract from the mask.

This display supports even nose-heavy pieces and keeps them aligned however you wish.  Tie a nice bow in the dangling ribbons and you have a nice mask, well displayed.

Tip: For the lightweight plaster Carnivale masks that have been so popular recently, you can do essentially the same thing with foam-core or heavy cardboard. Paint it black and no one will ever notice what it's made out of.

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