Monday, March 29, 2010

Masquerade - Who's Behind Those Beautiful Masks?

I know it not Halloween yet and it's way past Mardi Gras but you have to see these masks. I saw my first MeriMask at an event is San Francisco. I ask the wearer where he got it and he gave the Andrea's Etsy site. I was excited to see her huge selection and was amazed at the detail and craftsmanship of her masks. Andrea has sold over 1000 maks since 2007. I viewed the over 1000 of designs and styles and totally confuse and bewilder myself Itrying to decide which one was me. I have decided that the Sunflower Sun Mask is on the top of my list. Followed closely by the Persian Raven and the Frost Dragon Mask. Andrea was thrilled in January of 2009 when Cirque Du Soliel purchased one of her designs to sell in there stores.
Andrea Masse-Tognetti is a self taught artist living in Tonawanda New York, and has been working exclusively with leather sculpture for over sixteen years. She has created mask designs for Cirque Du Soleil, and last fall her masks appeared on stage in Tokyo in the "Muscle Musical" stage production "Magicarade". Her leather sculpture has been featured in "Weird Tales" magazine, the Niagara Gazette, "Artvoice" magazine and "J Select" magazine.

1. Why masks and why leather?
Leather is just a great medium for's not messy, you can carve durable details into it, and it's a natural, renewable resource. The masks were just a logical progression once I learned how malleable the medium was.

2. Which of your designs is favorite and why?
I love so many of my designs...I love all of them really, or else I wouldn't make them. My favorite right now is the "Fighting Bettas" mask though...I think it's just a really strong, beautiful design. It'd be great even if it wasn't a mask.

3. You studied soft sciences and archeology. How did these fields help in your designs?
My studies in Archeology/Anthropology definitely gave me an appreciation for the cultural significance of the mask. Every culture has them...their importance is worldwide and dates back to the earliest pre-history of the human species.

4. What design did buy from you? That must have been exciting, tell us about that process.
Cirque bought and produces my "Frivole" mask. It was based off of the makeup for a character in "Saltimbanco"...very colorful and clown-like.
The story behind this piece is long and dramatic. Let's say it was a real learning experience. Initially I was going to produce the masks for Cirque's gift shops, myself, but the contract...! It was a difficult negotiation. In the end, they decided to purchase the rights for the design outright and manufacture it themselves, which was much better for me and everyone involved. They market it as a child's mask.

5. Looking through you 50 pages of sold items, impressive. I saw a lot of custom orders. You must like the challenge. How do you start a new design?
It helps if the customer has an idea of what they want. Most of my custom orders are just modifications of masks I already do. Sometimes the customer wants something totally new. In those cases, a phone conversation, source images (if it's an animal of some sort), and a great degree of trust is needed. They have to trust me & my design abilities to come up with something new that they'll like. So far everyone has been happy. ^_^

6. What is your favorite movie?
I love movies! Rather than a favorite movie, I'd say I have favorite directors. I love Akira Kurosawa, Miyazaki, Tim Burton, Jim Henson. I guess if I had to narrow it down to just one movie though, it'd be "Bladerunner". Because I'm a nerd.

Check up which mask is you at:

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog and following me at Artemisia's Studio. The masks are truly fabulous!