I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. I created small dinosaurs out of playdough in preschool and took precautions to always color as close to within the lines as I could. I wrote stories and drew my own picture covers for them. I was a very creative child and was looking to produce something out of nothing as often as I could. 

Flash forward to me at 28 and I have been a fine arts painter for 5 years. I am represented by a local gallery and participate in exhibitions as often as I can with art associations. I have even been juried into a show which was a great honor. 

"Brain Plate"  a painting from Veiled Intentions
My main body of work right now is titled "Veiled Intentions" and focuses on the masks we wear in our daily lives. I started this series off as a rather dark and survivalists look at humanity. How bad we can be and how a serial killer could be lurking behind anyone's simple countenance. And as time went by, I realized that I wanted the series to be positive as well; after all some of us are hiding better people under our masks.

It was at this point that I started to look for reference as I always do (I do own real gas masks too!). I started to look at masquerade masks, leather masks, monster masks, and even finely crafted bead masks made out of enameled wire. I LOVED the amazing craftmanship and variety of masks that people had made. I didn't love the price though! People charged a lot for their products - as well they should - but it became apparent to me that I wouldn't be able to purchase these amazing masks for painting reference easily.  

A thought occurred to me: "What if I make my own masks?" 

Oh  and a bunch of doubts rolled in like a landslide! What if I'm not good at it? Where do I even get started? How much money will I have to spend on supplies? On and on the doubt train rolled until finally my overwhelming urge to create stepped in and said, "Enough! I'm going to make masks!"

When I was first starting to paint, I had a blog which I have since abandoned. I was just never interested in writing about fine art. But mask making is a treasure trove of blog topics and tutorials just waiting to happen. For everything I learn, I am able to archive it here and so it becomes this bank of knowledge about mask making for anyone who might be looking for it as I once was. And I'll tell you it is difficult for a novice to find much solid info about mask making. I think I only found 4 or 5 published books as well, so it is not a widely covered topic. 

I'm not sure where mask making will take me, but so far it has been an extremely rewarding experience that I don't see myself giving up ANY TIME soon! I'd love to join you for that morning coffee every Tuesday and Friday - which is my post schedule. New masks and projects on Tuesday and tutorials on Fridays.

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Marie Messina is an artist, maskmaker, and blogger. "Working with My Hands" chronicles her experiences while learning to make masks of all shapes and sizes. This blog should address the questions of new mask makers (or just people who are interested) by offering tutorials and explanations of materials and methods used. Marie hopes to share with her readers the fruits of her labor while working towards mastery in mask making.