Venetian masks have a long and colourful history. Originally used in Venice by actors to represent characters in improvisational theatre during "Carnevale," the Italian festival preceding Lent, the masks have evolved as a distinctly Venetian art form. They're made of papier mache or porcelain and are often elaborately decorated with colourful paint, sequins, gold leaf and feathers. You occasionally see people wearing Venetian masks at events like masquerade balls, but they typically are used more for decorative purposes. Proper display, storage and care of these masks is a must.
Tie the ribbons fastened to the back of the mask into a bow. Hang the mask from a hook or nail pounded into the wall. This is the easiest way to display a Venetian mask, but it will require cleaning more frequently than if it's displayed in a protective case.
Place the mask in a shadowbox. Typically made of a wooden frame with a clear glass or plexiglass viewing window, shadowboxes are available in a variety of sizes at craft and framing stores. Larger masks might require a custom-made box. The advantage to this form of display is protection from light and less frequent dusting.
Tie the mask on to a mannequin head and place the head in a freestanding glass case. Heads are made of ceramic, wood or styrofoam. This method of display also provides protection from elements and highlights the depth and dimensionality of the mask. A black, white or solid coloured head mannequin provides a simple but dramatic backdrop for the colourful mask details.
To clean masks, spray as needed with canned air, which is available at electronics stores.
Tips and warnings
- To clean masks, spray as needed with canned air, which is available at electronics stores.