Leather Mask Tutorial

Leather working and costuming are inevitable points of overlap for two of my favorite things to do. As a maskmaker and a leatherworker in other areas, I felt I wanted to have a one-stop point where I could discuss period leather without needing to start a whole new blog about it.

Maskmaker, Maskmaker, Make Me a Mask...
A 5-part tutorial in commedia maskmaking
For a long time I was a masked actor at ren faires. Inevitably, I got curious about my masks and started researching their manufacture. Many rare volumes of half-forgotten lore later, I'm making them for myself and others.

This is how it works. (And I think when you learn what goes into it, you'll be more than willing to hire someone to do it for you.)
Part One: Planning & Carving
Part Two: Carving & Completing the Matrix
Part Three: Prepping the Leather (Skivving Tutorial)
Part Four: Molding the Mask (Wetforming Leather)
Part Five: Finishing the mask

Some of the Masks I've Made Recently

Smiling zanni (commissioned piece)
This customer was an admirer of my old mask (pictured above) but he works with children and wanted something a bit less maniacal in its aspect. A happy bloke! And purple, if it's not too much trouble. I borrowed the curlicue cheeks from Arlecchino's mask (which historically started out as a curly mustache, I've been told) and raised the eyebrows, opening the eyes as wide and round and innocent as I dared. 

The purple doesn't come off in these pictures, but it really is the loveliest shade.

It was difficult to capture the true color of this mask in
artificial light. It really is the prettiest purple...

A half-mask zanni. (Commissioned piece)
Sometimes what comes off the matrix is surprising. Each piece of leather carries unique characteristics that will change how the mask turns out.  This was a perfectly normal long-nosed zanni, but after the leather came off the mask, it brought out a certain goblinlike mischief. Almost as if I was inspired by the masks in Labyrinth.

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