I have always loved Venetian masks. From the traditional beaked styles to modern designs that look more like fairytale creatures than anything else, there is no shortage of masks to choose from. I knew that I’d be buying at least one as a souvenir, but when I found out that I would actually take a mask making class in Venice, I jumped on that opportunity too.
I found out about the opportunity online, quicky booked myself a spot, and showed up in the designated meeting place the following day; an obvious and central building in the city centre that was easy to find. I arrived to find four other people waiting and our guide who led us to where we would be taking out mask making class in Venice: Ca’Macana Studio.
Ca’macana is one of the most famous mask makers in all of Venice. With years of experience and some expert mask makers, this shop has made a name for itself as one of the best. While they sell masks for Carnival as well as for souvenirs, Ca’Macana is actually best known for making masks for the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman,
At the studio, we were greeted by our teacher for the day, Sarah, who invited us to each pick a mask shape. We have a few to choose from; the traditional beaked mask, a cat-like shaped mask, and a few smaller options. I picked a small one with an interesting design over one eye as I thought it would fit best in my suitcase to take home.
Once we picked out masks we were given aprons and seated around a table in the worshop area where Sarah filled us in on the history of Venetian masks. The tradition of wearing a mask in Venice dates back to the 12th century and was popular among men and women of all statuses as it was a way to become someone else. Wearing masks became so common that it got a bit out of control, and the rule came into effect that the masks could only be worn during Carnival.
While the tradition of Canival masks still exists today, Venetian masks have become a symbol of the city and can be found on every street corner. Of course, for a true Venetian mask of good quality, you’ll want to go to one of the proper shops such as Ca’Macana.
Once Sarah told us the history behind the masks, she showed us how they were made. Here’s the process of how mine went.
I started with this…
Then, using one of the techniques she showed us, used blue, green, and purple acrylic paints to get this mottled look. I wanted something that resembled the night sky a bit.
Then after a quick blow-dry to set the paint, I waxed it and finished decorating with gold and silver stars and a moon to get this as my final piece.
These were the masks from the class.
While making my mask was a ton of fun, I think the highlight of my time was getting to see one of the mask masters at work. Mario let me watch as he laboured away on a huge peice, then took me around the shop and showed me some of the more unique pieces, such as this one.
Taking a mask making class in Venice was a ton of fun. Not just because I got to come home with a unique souvenir, but also because it allowed me some more insight into Venice’s mask culture and offered the opportunity to see the behind the scenes work by these incredible artisans. If you are interested in this masks and even just a tiny bit creative, I highly recommend taking a mask making class in Venice when you visit.