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Please begin with an informative title:

David Kelly Gallery Kos Banner
Sara R here, welcoming you to our fourth gallery opening.  Tonight is Mardi Gras, and we have a special type of art for you on this feast day.  Jensequitur makes masks case-molded from leather in the Venetian style, hand-tooled and painted.  Mask styles range from classical to fantasy to just plain weird.   If you wish to buy a mask from tonight's show or from the website, contact Jensequitur by Kos Mail, or through the website, Masks by Jen.  All masks will be made to order.

Ulookarmless is our music master (the man who makes the party!)  Tonight, you don't need to be in Venice or Rio or New Orleans to enjoy a special Carneval.  Come in, enjoy the show, the food, the wine and each other's company.   Below the squiggle, Jensequitur will present her masks and tell us something about her work.

Intro

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Patric Juillet delivered some great food here last night, but it seems the gremlins ate it all!! So you will have to live with beignets and hot chocolate from the famous Cafe du Monde in NOLA. Beware the powdered sugar!

So once again, Mardi Gras is here, and instead of whooping it up in New Orleans, I'm stuck here in Fort Worth getting another batch of masks ready for the North Texas Irish Festival.  

What I should be doing as a maskmaker is getting my tookus on down to the Mask Festival in New Orleans, which is held in the French Market Square area.  Maskmakers of all types gather to sell their wares to unsuspecting tourists. The masks vary in quality - $3 plastic pieces from China, to really nice papier-maché or leather masks.  The Mask Festival starts about three days before Mardi Gras (around Saturday) and doesn't stop until Tuesday.  Unfortunately the cost of getting to New Orleans, renting a booth, and staying in town while I do the festival is just too much for my limited budget.

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Two Bacchus masks, and two Fleur de Lis.

Instead I've sent off a bunch of masks to Maskarade, a mask shop in New Orleans on St. Anne Street. I sell them there on consignment, and they've been really happy with my work.

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Two Jester masks, and one Harlequin.

Some music for the mood of the carnival. Hide behind your favorite mask and dance with the band as you stroll through the gallery...

How it Began...

I've been making masks since 1997.  I saw a cool leather mask that somebody was wearing at the local Renaissance Faire, and I thought this would be a fun thing to do.  

I had to learn it all through trial and error, as there really weren't any online resources.  Once I had the technique down, I created a pattern for the standard domino - something that had the proper spacing for the eyes, and that would feel comfortable on the face.  I've created lots of different patterns since then, but they've all been based more or less on that first domino.

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Here I'm tracing the Green Man pattern onto a piece of leather.

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Here's the Green Man, tooled and painted. ($120)

My first show was at a renegade art show during Gallery Night in Fort Worth - I sold three, and was amazed. People buying art that I created! I've had classical painting classes, and had my fill of still lifes and portraiture in college. After ten hours, I had a painting of some bottles and a sprig of flowers, or some person that nobody knew. Boring. I could never see how that particular skill would translate to an actual career in art. On the other hand, masks were so much fun - I could spend an hour or five on each one, and if I got bored, I could move on to the next one.

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Fire is the first mask I designed in my current style. ($100)

I started with simple shapes, but as I've learned more about leather, I've upped the ante a little. I began to tool the leather, which really added depth and texture to each mask. Leather has an organic quality (no surprise!) so curved shapes, vines, leaves, and flowers work better than straight lines.  My classical painting techniques have come in handy too. In fact, I can spend too much time painting, because I'm thinking about overtones and undertones, depth of color, and highlights.

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Here I'm shaping a Goblin mask.  The teeth were very finicky.

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Here he is, painted and with nose attached. (Sold at Maskarade, 2011)

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My Kitsune mask, which is a good example of the kind of tooling I do. (Sold at CityArts 2010)

My Inspiration

I derive much of my inspiration from old bad science fiction movies.  Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, They Live, Split Second... I could go on, but you get the gist.  

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My apologies to those of you who dislike clowns. ($150)

And when it's not bad sci-fi movies, it's books and comic books.  I get some of my best ideas late at night.  I doodle in my sketchbook constantly, but it's always just plans for what I'm going to do in three dimensions.  

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Cthulhu ($150,) my leather top hat and Cthulhu gas mask, and Steampunk Cthulhu ($200.)

Sometimes I'll get a custom order, which leads me down a creative path I hadn't considered before, and those custom orders make their way into my regular product line.

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Sometimes I don't know where the idea for a mask came from. ($200, with hand cymbals.)

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Yee-haw!  It's my Steampunk raygun and holster, with my leather top hat.

Now Rio would be a good place to be today:

Custom Work

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The Abyssal Helmet

I think I enjoy custom work the most, because I have to research the design before I begin.

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Two closeups of the Toreador mask

Just this past year, I had the opportunity to create some masks for the Vampire the Masquerade convention down in New Orleans.  They wanted several custom pieces.  

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Closeups of the Lasombra mask.

These are just a few of the pieces I created.  I really enjoyed this commission.  At first I planned on a simple clan marking on each mask, but I really got elaborate, as you can see here.  I did research on each individual clan, and looked at the artwork that had been created already, so my masks would fit the theme. For more photos of my custom work, visit my Facebook page - I try to keep it updated.

The Future

What makes me most crazy about chronicling my work is the stuff that's still on the bench, waiting to be finished.  I have a Plague Doctor and a horse mask.  I have a maple leaf mask, wolf masks, dog masks, little piggy masks... The website needs to be updated again.  It seems like there's always something to do, and I'm never bored.  If I get tired of sculpting masks, I can paint.  If I'm tired of painting, I can design a new one.  Or I can work on the website, or my Facebook page, or whatever - my choices are almost endless.

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Pig ($100)

So don't pig out on king cake, ya'll.  Don't drink too much, or you'll see some of these.

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Pink Elephant ($100)

And party until the sun comes up!

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Sun ($100)

Many of these masks have already sold.  If you'd like to purchase a mask you see either here or on the website that isn't in stock, I'll create a new one.

Now get out there and enjoy the Carnival:

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Originally posted to Gallery Kos on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and DKOMA.

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