Mar. 23rd, 2014

life_of_glamour: (Laureling Day)
Saturday I debuted my new Visard Mask. This is a mask worn by 16th and 17th century ladies to protect their face when traveling and outdoors to prevent a tan which would imply that they worked in the field. The masks were generally of black velvet on the outside, silk or sweet leather on the inside, and stiffened by a "pressed-paper" inner layer. There are two extant examples that I'm aware of, the one linked above which was found in a wall in a 16th century building, and there's one that's made for a doll in the V&A, dated to the 17th Century.

Here's a pic that Theia took, there may be a few others that pop up online in the next few days:
blackmask

Here's a pic that was taken by Esmerelda of the Lakes. 1482772_838676376148093_1761214339_n

I made mine by using one of my wig forms as a form, laid it down and formed the inner layer out of papier mache laid over the face of it. After letting that dry for a couple of days, I cut the eye and mouth holes, shaped the edges, then cut a piece of black velvet for the outside and a piece of silk for the lining. I sewed first the lining then the outside, first to the eyes and mouth opening, and then together around the edges. And finally, I attached a little button to the inside of the mask right under the center of the mouth opening on some heavy-duty thread for me to hold between my teeth - that's how the mask gets held on. The extant examples each have a glass bead instead of a button, but my goal wasn't to learn how to make glass beads (this time), so I used a button I had on hand. In fact, all of the materials came out of my stash (scraps!) for this project, which is how I've been preferring to work lately.

I found that stitching the velvet and silk to the papier mache inner layer wasn't an ideal situation. I think if I did it again I'd make the inner layer something a little easier to stitch through (possibly several layers of buckram, wetted then stretched over the wig form's face and allowed to dry might be made to take the correct shape). The other thing I would do different is use a different model form for the face. The mask didn't quite reach to the edge of my face from about the ears down. Clearly my wig form has a narrower chin and cheeks than I do!

Walking around with a black mask on was a fascinating experience! I knew that the mask had a slightly menacing quality to it, and I got a lot of double takes and stares, plus several comments about "Westworld" (which is not a show I'm familiar with) as I walked about, and one darling person who I now love forever said I looked like a Doctor Who villain. And several people just flat loved it and the strangeness of it. I really enjoyed wearing it! I definitely had to be more careful walking though because I had no peripheral vision, and couldn't see down (or anywhere else) without pointing my face there. Also, the condensation of my breath going up inside the mask made my nose run constantly, so I was happy I had some tissues on hand.

As a bonus, I didn't get a sunburn on my nose (or the rest of my face) because I wore it every time I went out in the sun (and had sunscreened everywhere also, just in case)! A++ will definitely wear again!

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