File puptcrit/puptcrit.0603, message 22

To: <>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 09:01:21 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Info about enamels

I have been making and performing with masks for the last 30 years. I don't 
put anything on the inside of my masks. I live in Puerto Rico where we sweat 
constantly and more so under a mask. I wire the edge of the mask and have 
never had one disintergrate or even soften. I also like to see the newspares 
I have used. I generally have one piece that has the date. Also I have made 
masks in different countries, so the newspaper of that country is always a 
reminder of the experience there. I have found that it is only galleries 
that seem to be concerned about the inside finish.
Deborah Hunt
Puerto Rico

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 

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:

List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005