I started making masks around 1991, while travelling along the Pow Wow and festival circuit with my family. These early works were decorative wall hangings with elaborate featherwork designs, and the bases were made out of plaster. They were intended solely as art objects, and each one told a story about the places and people that we encountered along the road. During this same time, I also began working with garment leather to create bags and purses. After a few years, I learned that I could fuse these interests to create wearable art masks.
It was hard to find mask making books or tutorials back then, and I didn’t know any other mask artists to learn from. Instead, I learned through trial and error (a lot of error). Thus, my learning curve was probably steeper than it might be if I was starting out today, but the upshot was that I really got a chance to tune into my own creative voice without too much outside influence. This has given my work a distinctive style, which is backed by experienced craftsmanship. The end result is original wearable art that is beautiful, comfortable and durable.
These original masks are entirely hand crafted. They are cut and sculpted from premium tooling leather using an old Italian technique known as “wet forming”. I blend this traditional method with contemporary techniques to coax the leather into the desired shape.
Once the mask has been shaped, it is colored with dye and/or acrylic paint and the color is then sealed (front and back) with a protective top coat. I use high quality beads, feathers and trim, and all beadwork is hand sewn by me — one bead at a time. My masks use sturdy elastic ties and each one is signed and dated.
Since each piece is made by hand no two masks will be identical, even if they are crafted from the same design. Your mask will be of the same style and quality as the one shown, but it will have its own unique character.
Care & Repair:
I strive to create masks that are comfortable and fun to wear; of course, all faces are different so it’s impossible for every mask to fit every face the same way. Fortunately, the leather is still fairly flexible so if needed, you can gently bend your mask to fit more comfortably.
To clean your mask, simply use a feather duster or wipe it with a slightly damp cloth. It has been sealed with a protective topcoat, so you don’t need to use any oils, cleansers or preservatives.
I use non-toxic colorants, but you’ll still want to keep it safe from small children, pets, and water. Your mask is sealed to be water resistant, but soaking it could cause the leather to relax and lose its shape. Should that happen, lay your mask over a rounded object, gently press it back into its original shape and let it dry in a warm place.
The best way to preserve the shape is to store your mask so that it’s slightly convex, rather than flattened or crumpled. Basically, you want it to sit as it does when worn. Ideally, if you’re not wearing your mask, it should hang on a wall or on a wig head.
I stand behind my work, and I can usually do repair work at no charge provided that you pay for shipping. In cases of extreme damage, abuse, or neglect, I must charge for my time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.