life_of_glamour: (Laureling Day)
[personal profile] life_of_glamour
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:

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!

Date: 2014-03-24 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is lovely! I have often wondered how it would be to wear one.

Did your mouth get tired holding the button?

Date: 2014-03-24 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not at all, however it did make talking difficult, so I'd just pop it off, do my talking, then pop it back on again. I could talk a bit, but it was a little muffled. Mostly I wore it when I was walking around in the sun, so going from one place to another. I didn't have it on long enough at any one time to get fatigued, I think. :-)

Date: 2014-03-24 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] connie schulte (from
You could mold a reprlica of your face with Cast material and then make the actual mask using the mold as a form. I've made such mold often. They are easy and fun to make.

Date: 2014-03-24 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's a great idea Connie!

Date: 2014-03-24 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think this is so much a better idea than the magazine-held-up-as-a-parasol which is common hereabouts. I think everybody should wear masks, who fears the heat o' the sun.

Date: 2014-03-24 05:10 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-24 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So freaky and historical! I love it!

Date: 2014-03-24 04:43 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-24 05:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-24 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Now you need gloves!

Date: 2014-03-24 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The photos made me wonder what those women did to protect their necks and cleavage from the sun, or if it was only the face that needed to be aristocratically pale.

Date: 2014-03-24 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In the woodcuts at the link I shared the women are wearing cloaks over their necks and shoulders. I chose not to because it was warm out, and I have the advantage of modern sunscreen.

Date: 2014-03-24 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, now there is the advantage of reading LJ on a computer and not on the phone during morning situps--on a computer I will actually follow links (which I have now done--interesting reading). Yah, warm! Most women in Elizabethen England didn't have to deal with the kinds of temperatures you face at a typical West Kingdom event. I miss playing SCA in the West, but I do NOT miss the heat! (or the traffic to get to the events)

Date: 2014-03-24 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sounds like you got off lightly, I have medeival leather framed glasses and once when I wore them a small child burst into tears and ran away.

westworld, btw, is an old film based on a michael crichton novel, where you go to a theme park manned by robots, so in western world, forinstance, you can take part in shootouts. obviously all the robots malfunction and go on a killing spree

Date: 2014-03-24 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
HAHAHA! Children were fascinated - I interacted with more children at the event on Saturday than I have in the last year put together, probably. Mostly they wanted to know why I was wearing it - little girls are full of curiosity, and they were so cute about asking!

Date: 2014-03-24 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ha, I love it! I've molded wet buckram over a form for hat building (the crown of this hat), and it works well as long as your curves aren't too complex. I don't know how sharp of a nose profile you'd be able to get, even working one layer at a time. Then again, you could shape it in pieces - cut a hole around the nose support, shape a separate piece for just the nose, then assemble the layers together. If you're covering it all anyway, it would be all but invisible.

A thought, though - if you were getting condensation on your face, a water-soluble medium like buckram might fail. I had a friend make a top hat out of buckram, covered in silk, gorgeous thing, and it just collapsed after a day at the Dickens faire because he sweated through it. YMMV.

Date: 2014-03-24 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Since I didn't know anything about that period, or that ladies wore dark masks, when I first saw the pic, it totally freaked me out.
However, I love your research and the way it came out, even though seeing a random pic of you with a blacked-out face was a bit disconcerting!

Date: 2014-03-24 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Apparently it was pretty freaky in person, too! :-)

Date: 2014-03-24 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was so very cool! You win again!!!

Date: 2014-03-24 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
that's awesome. so totally cool

Date: 2014-03-25 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morwenna dawn mckinley (from
So interesting to hear the history behind "the mask". I must admit to having been very curious this past weekend, but too shy to actually come up and ask you. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Date: 2014-03-25 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My pleasure! Come say hi next time. :-)

Date: 2014-03-30 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lovely!...and a bit creepy. I totally vote for the Dr. Who villan thing :-D

Date: 2014-04-04 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whoa, this is creepy and gorgeous, I want one so bad. And yes, very Doctor Who villain-esque, particularly with the rest of the period clothing. Well done!

Date: 2014-04-08 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the creepy part - for me at home looking at the photos - is that it appeared there were no holes for eyes or for breathing.
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