File puptcrit/puptcrit.0603, message 21

To: <>, <>,
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 00:25:01 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Info about enamels

Not puppetry, but as many masks are used in puppet shows, I thought this could still be an on-topic question.

I've read the MASKS book by W. T. Benda, a great illustrator and amazing maskmaker from the 1930 and 40s.

He said he protected his paper masks by multiple coats of Valspar or Shellac everywhere on and inside the mask. Then he protected the inside of the mask with a coat of Mandarin-red enamel.
As in the rest if his book, he remains very vague about the materials he uses. Is the Mandarin-red a special type of enamel, or is it just the color?
I know some people use the red as an interesting color contrast with the gold leaf.
When the enamel is thouroughly dry, he would apply Japan lac, let dry to idal tacjyness, then apply gold leaf.
I will skip the gold leaf, thank you very much. But he used it as a durable finish, claiming it was devoid of anything that could be harmful to the wearer.

So I'm wondering if the enamel, uncovered, once the solvent is fully evaporated, could cause breathing or skin troubles overtime?
What specific sort of enamel should I use?
Or should I avoid enamels altogether?
How long does an enamel take to dry?

I've tried white glues of various types, "Future" floor protector (acrylic based), and even a waterbased polyurethane (Flecto waterborne, diamond finish). None are as strong overtime as I'd wish them to be, hence my idea to go back to basics, and use oil-based products for durability.
I'm weary of using epoxies (glues and coatings), as I have found them to be prone to cracking.

Do you know of any specific products I could use inside a mask, preferably with low solvent or no solvent content?
How long do they need to dry before they can be worn safely for the wearer?

Thanks for any input.
I had no idea, 5 years ago when I first started, how much trouble it would be to find infos (including pictures) on the insides of masks.
Even professionnal maskmaker websites avoid the subject, or don't know a thing about it, or just plain keep it secret. 
Some only talk about "durable acrylic paint". Who ever heard of a really durable acrylic paint on the inside of a wearable mask?
Sweat and friction alone will destroy it in just a little time.

Mathieu René Créaturiste
Marionnettes, Masques, Etcetera...
Puppets, Masks, Etcetera...
(514) 274-8027
List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005