How to Make Venetian Carnevale Masks

Written by amanda gronot
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How to Make Venetian Carnevale Masks
Modern Venetian masks are often highly decorated with jewels and gold leaf. (venetian mask image by Melissa Schalke from

The Carnevale di Venezia, or Carnival of Venice, is a yearly festival that occurs during the two weeks before Ash Wednesday. Masks are a central feature of the festival, representing mystery, escape and revelry with their ornate decoration, bright colours and elaborate secrecy. The five primary types of Carnival masks are the Bauta, the Moretta, the Columbina, the Medico Della Peste or "Plague Doctor," and the Volto. While the Bauta and the Volto are the most commonly worn, the Columbina is the most iconic. Authentic masks are generally made with leather or glass, but you can make a nice mask with paper mache.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Saran wrap or vaseline
  • Mixing bowl
  • Flour
  • Newspaper
  • Paint
  • Decorative materials like feathers, glitter, sequins
  • Glue
  • Ribbons or elastic band
  • Optional:
  • Balloon or plastic mask
  • Sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Mix one cup of flour and one cup of cold water in the bowl, and then add four cups of hot water, letting the mixture form a thick paste. Tear the newspaper up into small strips.

  2. 2

    Apply vaseline or saran wrap to the model's face, tying back any loose hair. Put it on a balloon or another mask if you do not have a live model.

  3. 3

    Dip a strip of newspaper into the paste and place it on the model. Continue with the rest of the strips, laying them down in layers to create the shape you want, either full- or half-face. Apply at least three layers.

  4. 4

    Let the mask dry about 10 to 20 minutes, and then remove the mask very carefully and let it dry completely. Apply more layers if it feels weak.

  5. 5

    Apply several layers of paint to create a smooth surface. Sand it with very fine sandpaper before painting if you want an even smoother finish. Most Venetian mask makers use white paint.

  6. 6

    Decorate the mask with more paint, glitter, craft jewels and feathers. Search for pictures of masks online if you need inspiration for your design.

  7. 7

    Make two small holes at the side of the mask. Tie a ribbon to each side, or tie a piece of elastic to each hole to secure your mask on your head.

Tips and warnings

  • Plaster gauze also works well for this project.

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