The High Art of the Masks

“Many cultures have enjoyed the playful freedom one feels after donning a mask. But no place has taken these toys for grown-ups to greater extremes, both elegant and diabolical, than Venice. A tour of the world of Venetian masks, and their starring role in the mega-party called Carnival.”

When Toys Get Real | Craftsmanship Magazine, Winter 2016

“every year more people come, drawn not only by the chance to wear (or at least see) fantastic masks and elaborate costumes, but to do so in a place that can seem like something you just dreamed up.”

When Toys Get Real | Craftsmanship Magazine, Winter 2016

“Masks have evolved along with their wearers; Venetians of centuries ago didn’t wear anything like this ensemble, but they would have admired the total anonymity it provides, and given their passion for luxury and excess, they might well have adored this strange extravagance – “part Rio Carnival, part Folies Bergere,” as one mask-maker put it.”

The article goes on to say how most of the best outfits are rented by the day. This would be the sort of area I would like to become involved with. by designing and making outfits to rent out to people for events such as this.

When Toys Get Real | Craftsmanship Magazine, Winter 2016

“Italy is bestrewn with Carnivals, some of them (such as the one at Viareggio) much more elaborate than the Venetian version, though in admittedly less gorgeous settings. This map of Italy’s 20 regions gives the names of the principal Carnival characters in each town on the list. In the northern cities, such as Venice, the characters often come from theatrical characters, specifically those of the Commedia dell’Arte, the highly-stylized 15th-century improvised comedy (think Punch and Judy shows). Gianduiotto, the famous hazelnut chocolate made in Torino, is named for their own Carnival character, Gianduja.”

“In the mountains, though, whether Alps or Apennines, Carnival draws its energy from roots still driven deep into prehistoric rituals of protection and survival. These characters often take some animal form – wolf, human-bear, human-deer – that dwelt in the terrifying forests and chasms, and bear names in equally ancient dialects. True Carnival anarchy was born in the depths of cosmic fear: To drive away the dark spirits of winter, open the way for the rebirth of spring, and return the universe once again to its appointed order. The monsters and devils of many Carnivals are designed to keep faith with their primitive founding spirits, let loose to rampage on the understanding that they will be conquered once again.”

When Toys Get Real | Craftsmanship Magazine, Winter 2016

“The quintessential Venetian costume, known since at least the 15th century, is the bauta (bah-OO-ta) – not just a mask, but an entire ensemble worn by men and women alike. Its weird white shovel-shaped mask is called the “volto” (face) or “larva” (meaning ghost, or mask). A perfect marriage of form and function, this mask covers virtually the entire face, and its bizarre design was intended not only to allow the wearer to eat and drink without removing it, but also acted as a sort of echo chamber, thereby disguising even the wearer’s voice.”



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