Wire Masquerade Masks {Wedding Set}

August 10, 2015

I had so much fun creating the red and silver masquerade mask a few months ago. The piece was a hit at the dance, and there is nothing quite like the joy of designing really unique pieces.

Masquerade masks are fun and beautiful and all, but once you add some wire and swirls and beads and rhinestone, it doesn't seem to get much better!

When I received an email asking me to create custom wirewrapped masks for a wedding, it made my day!

At the time, though, I didn't realize how much work it would be! That first mask was an experiment in a true sense; although very nice, it wasn't as stable and elegant as it could have been. 

 I challenged myself to focus on craftsmanship-- craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship is everything!-- and while I logged more hours than I had intended, it was worth it! (This is the curse of custom orders; I consistently undercharge on these things.)

 The first mask was the women's rhinestone and cream pearl. The bride wanted a fuller and more solid design than the first red mask, and she sent me inspiration photos for an extravaganza of swirls to go up one side of the mask.

(It's great to work with people who have an eye for design and knows what they want, but are still happy to let me do my thing).

The base was made from 12 gauge sterling silver plated wire. The skeleton of the mask is by far the most difficult, as it is entirely freeform.

Imagine taking 12 inches of stiff wire, pliers, a hammer, and an avil and trying to make a sturdy mask with symmetrical sides that will form to anyone's face, sit comfortably on the nose, and will not fall apart.

(It's a wee bit difficult and took me several tries).

Adding the swirls was next, and while this intricate hammered wirewrapping is very similar to the techniques I use regularly, forming everything to fit a face added a third dimension-- literally-- to the techniques.

All of the pearls and rhinestones were lashed to the mask using thin sterling plated wire. I was surprised by how much stability the beadwork added to the piece!

Unfortunately, thanks to crazy college classes, I just barely made the deadlines I set. I didn't have a chance to take many photographs of the white mask, but these here modeled by my lovely friend do a great job of showing how the mask wears on a real person!

This mask just sings with elegance and whimsy-- if you'll pardon the flowery language! I can't wait to see how it coordinates with the bride's dress. :)

Now, for my pride and joy.

Don't get me wrong; I love the white mask and am in love with all of the design elements that my customer requested.

But this black mask is a step up in craftsmanship and technique for me. A leap, really.

Crafting this was one of those magical times when every almost-mistake turned out to be exactly what I needed, and my fingers and eyes seemed to work of their own accord. So many technical "aha!" insights fired in my brain while problem-solving this design. My fingers now know their way around wirewrapping like they didn't before.

It's a strange thing to explain, and another use of flowery, cliched language, but something "clicked."

I was asked to create this piece after the white mask was delivered, and from the start we needed it to be structurally a different kind of piece.

The white mask has large eye-holes to showcase nice bold eye makeup, but unless the groom wanted to sport eyeshadow and guyliner, this mask needed significantly smaller eye holes.

The problem is that everyone's eyes are really unique, and I needed to find a sweet spot where this mask could fit anyone's face without covering the eyes.

The general shape of the mask, too, needed to be different. I filled an entire sketchbook page with shape ideas. How should I make a pearl-studded wirewrapped swirly mask look more masculine?

The design that I finally decided on was much more solid and filled-out than any mask I've made before. The swirls are contained inside the mask, on the sides, rather than spiraling around the outside of the mask.

I attached dozens and dozens of tiny beads using tiny wire wrapped in very specific ways so that the entire skeleton of the mask was solidly filled with black pearls.

The beaded zig-zags above the nose was another design input from the bride; I had been struggling with how to fill in that space without overwhelming it. Her idea worked really well!

My brother asked to model it, and, in typical drama-kid style, jazzed up his look with some "dashing accessories."

I am so honored to make custom jewelry like this, and am especially grateful to be making pieces that will be a part of this couple's marriage beginnings! Theirs sounds like a very unique wedding and I wish them all the joy.

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    ugh, how to you find the time, or the patience to do that much bead work? I have no skill with bead. (No... I mean, I have NO SKILL AT ALL with beads. Ask Amy.) But sheesh I love those masks, they're so freaking elegant. If/when I get married... (ha) I might end up going, "Shaylynn, I need you to make me stuff" which will be all kinds of fun. XD


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