Artisan processing of masks, dolls and costumes

The Creation Process of a Papier-mâché Mask

(calles also “striped paper” or “glued paper”)


How to make a paper mache maskThe word papier-mache (papier-mâché) is used inaccurately because this term indicates a method involving paper left to soak in water and then beaten to a pulp with glue, creating thereby a kind of paste.

More precisely it is question of using paper strips or pasted paper because the technique does in fact involve strips of paper pasted on top of one another.

Mold of a Carnival mask in papier-mâché

Artisan mask-making  is a rather time-consuming craft: The first step is to make a model in clay over which liquid plaster is then poured to make a mould.

Once dried and hardened the mould (which is now in negative) is then lined with gum lack and vaseline for isolation, and then wet strips of absorbent paper are laid in it.

After having covered the entire surface it is advisable to apply firm pressure over the surface with the fingers to ensure the paper is attached to the mould and to smooth out air-bubbles or folds.

An abundant layer of wall-paper paste is applied followed by more paper.

This procedure is repeated several times until the desired thickness is obtained, which can vary from 3 to 5 layers according to the size of the mask.



Finishing of a papier-mâché mask

Once dry the mask is extracted from the mould and finished with sandpaper to render the surface as smooth as possible, any imperfections being corrected with stucco.

At this stage excess is trimmed from the edges, the eyes are cut out and then the first layer of white distemper is applied, after which the mask is ready for the second phase, that of decoration.

Today it is very difficult for an untrained eye to distinguish an original mask made of papier-mâché (or paper strips) to those in circulation unfortunately made of plastic or cardboard printed or imported.

Surely the irregularity of the mask is a good sign of the ”handmade”.


The Decoration Process

Magie_di_Carnevale_Venezia (2)

Decoration gives full reign to the imagination and involves various techniques and materials including:

enamel, tempera, acrylic, varnish, lacquer, stucco-relief, gold leaf, liquid bitumen (for ageing), cloth, lace, macramè, strass and many others.

Traditional masks are decorated in period style, adding, however, a personal touch to distinguish them.

The more elaborate ones allow us the full creative scope and are enriched with gold leaf, stucco-relief, strass, trimmings, and flowers.

Many different forms are created for wearing them during Carnival or for decorative purposes, displaying old master copies of famous artists like Tiepolo, Boucher, Longhi, Klimt and many others.


The Artisanal Creation of Costumes


Magie_di_Carnevale_Venezia (8)Period costume-making is the result of careful research into art books, paintings, early prints and from studying the history of costume.

Once the costume has been chosen the pattern is drawn out onto paper, ready for use when it comes to cutting out the cloth.

After selecting the appropriate cloth (brocade, damask, velvet. . .) which best reflects the period style the outfit is then cut out, sewn and tailored.

The finishing touches are very accurate, using lace, macramé, trimmings, ribbon, fine cord, strass, and pearls, all as similar as possible to the original in every detail.

We make costumes from every period from 1500-1800, cloaks, mantles tabarri, zendali, jabot, corsets and hats, all made to order and to measure, choosing pattern, cloth and finishing together with the client.

Each outfit is one-of-a-kind and therefore irreplaceable, to guarantee originality and uniqueness.

Once you are wearing our costumes you will relive the atmospheric magic of Venice in one of her more sumptuous periods.