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Leather Masks:
The Merchant of Venice
The
                            Merchant of Venice
  Toys for the Face by Ryl Mandus  
The
                            Merchant of Venice


the leather masks of
Ryl Mandus


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A few of my costume
designs and construction for competition presentation




I wasn't very promising as a child, . . .
 . . . I had 'Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder', and still have it to a degree.  Back then they didn't have a name (or a kick-back drug) for it, so they just called me 'unruly' and 'stupid' because I was unable to keep my mind on task (and little girls aren't supposed to be unruly, you see).  My rampant imagination was a wild horse and I was super-glued to its back, with no choice but to go where ever it wanted to take me.

Later, as I grew, I developed some self-discipline and learned to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand.

During high school I attended a vocational school that was being offered, after having enthusiastically quit the typing and home-ec classes that my parents rather loudly insisted that I take, since I had neither desire nor aptitude to be clerical or domestic.  At this school I studied photography, black and white darkroom work, and advertising layout and composition.

Mine!
Research has always been one of my great passions.  History, mythology and folklore of various cultures have all now become inextricably woven and integrated parts of my personal 'data base'.  The fantastic and the surreal hold strong sway over nearly everything I do, whether it's prose, fine art, or mask and costume design.

marker sketch So, by now my imagination is a powerful muscle that I exercise and wield at my will.  And though I have endured no formal art training, I  dislike the term 'self-taught' -- how can you 'teach' yourself what you don't know?

I obsess over the conversations between colors, and I trip out over textures, contours and the powers of negative vs. positive space.

I study art on my own and continue to loiter in museums to analyze palettes and brush strokes, and I get "harumphed" at by museum guards who think that maybe three inches between my nose and the painting behind the stanchions is a little too close. 

( did you know that "harumph" in Danish sounds just like "harumph" in English?! )

Now, about all those masks, . . .   


Several years ago my wonderful sister-in-law gave me a tiny wall-mask made of leather.  I was instantly hooked.  I didn't know any mask makers, and at the time I couldn't find any books on the subject (The Internet was still on its training wheels).  My only recourse was to invest money, time and effort (and calluses, cuts, and blisters); I bought a dozen or so different kinds of leather and blindly experimented with them,....

Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without some kind of risk.  Bit by bit, I discovered what would and wouldn't work and proceeded from there, only to learn many years later that what I was doing was exactly what the master mask makers in Italy had been doing for centuries, . . .

. . . and I learned that sometimes the old ways are the best.

~  Ryl Mandus, the Merchant of Venice
at right: myself, as the Dame Phoenix Albastru



The Merchant of Venice

All works within this site copyrighted by Ryl Mandus, unless otherwise stated.
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