sofia mascareri 2
We took a walk in the little streets of Venice guided by Francesca, owner of botega Kartaruga and president of the cultural association “Compagnia l’Arte dei Mascareri”. Thanks to her we discovered little shops, hidden gems suffering from the amount of industrial goods that threaten craftsmanship.We listened to the voices of the owners of these little craft activities that, among papier-mâché and paint, have revealed us who brings the symbol of Carnival par excellence to life: the mask.


Staff: How did you get interested in the art of masks?
Sofia of atelier Alberto Sarria: I’m here as second-generation. My passion comes from my parents… especially from my father.
I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, I consider myself pretty creative and I had the luck to inherit this business where I can keep this kind of art alive.
When I was a child, I didn’t even imagine to become an artisan, but if I am today it’s because I realised how lucky I’ve been and I still am! Maybe my path was facilitated by the presence of my parents who taught me everything, for fun at first and for my interest then. What I learned from them also allowed me to focus slightly away from tradition and explore more personal fields.

S: what are the features of your masks?
Sara of atelier Rugadoro: To me the mask is a medium through which I can express all of my creativity, such as the canvas for a painter. Fabrics, colours, venetian specialty like glass, lace, trimmings… I combine all of this this materials into a unique mask. The base is always papier-mâché, the real difference is in the decoration which changes depending on each master. For instance, I’ve always been fascinated by collage.
I too started painting and decorating masks in the traditional way but at some point I felt the need to change, to have different materials to use.


But techniques and materials are truly numerous. In Sara’s atelier (Rugadoro) we’ll find beautiful fabric masks, while at Marilisa’s “L’Arlecchino” we’ll see masks made of broken resin masks. In every atelier masters give full rein to creativity creating real masterpieces. Many of them work in small spaces, some have laboratories but many others work in their own shops and homes.

S: Are you teaching someone this art?
Marina of atelier Teatro Maschere: It’s really hard to find someone to teach and transmit something that is a part of our history… it’s hard to live doing just this!S: Do you think that the art of the mask is going to disappear?
Barbara of atelier Barbara Lizza: Absolutely not, it will not vanish. It will rise again indeed! We’re having a hard time, it’s true, but I’m sure that it will rise again.
I’ve always been fascinated by the mask, by its psychological meaning; everyone is full of masks! I believe that the moments you’re not wearing any mask are the moments when you’re actually wearing one, right at a carnival party for example. There I can be who I really am because no one recognises me.The cultural association “Compagnia l’Arte dei Mascareri” was born in 2015 and most of venetian masks ateliers’ owners are a part of it: “since everyone of us has its own artistic peculiarities – says Francesca- a link of friendship unites us. We work all together”. Among the trade of materials and advice, moulds and masks ready to be decorated everyone is following  the path of quality, research and love.

S: What is Carnival for you?
Barbara of atelier Barbara Lizza: It’s a tradition that must go on. Carnival is how masks are born, it’s how you can overcome plagues, it’s a lot of things… Carnival is everyone of us!


The invitation that we do to our readers is to explore these amazing artisans’ ateliers and lose yourselves in the labyrinth of masks between tradition and modernity.

Behind the symbol of Carnival there are faces, hands and years of work devoted to the passion for one of the most ancient arts of Venice, a kind of art that needs to be understood and supported to survive!



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