A Day in Venice: Painting Masks

Painting Masks l ©ornaoreilly.com

As the early morning regionale veloce trundled out of the railway station at Monselice bearing me to Venice once more, I wondered what the day ahead would bring.  I was embarking on yet another adventure in La Serenissima, meeting three fellow lady bloggers for a session of mask painting.

Painting Masks l ©ornaoreilly.comThese Italy bloggers were Victoria de Maio, Margie Miklas and Susan Nelson, three ladies with whom I have been communicating on Twitter and Facebook for the past couple of years. As I had never met them before, it was a bit like going on a blind date and I really had very little clue what to expect, though I felt I knew them already through reading their blogs and chatting on line.

I arrived at their hotel at 09.00 sharp, where we greeted each other like old friends – which we are really, in a virtual world – and bonded quickly over a morning coffee. Then off we went on the No. 1 vaporetto to paint masks as arranged.

Vaporetto on the Grand Canal

Vaporetto on the Grand Canal

Alighting at Ca’ Rezzonico we easily found the fabulous showroom and workshop of Ca’ Macana.

We were greeted by bouncy Fiorella who introduced us to this centuries old art: painting masks for Carnivale.



Fantastic masks lined the walls of their showroom.

Tables laden with unpainted masks were available for us to make our choices.

Painting Masks l ©ornaoreilly.comSusan and I opted for small masks with pointy bits at the side.

Me in my unpainted mask

Me in my unpainted mask

Victoria chose a cat face and Margie plumped for a full face mask. We got to work. Fiorella quizzed us as to our colour choices and placed little pots of paint in front of us with a big bowl of paint brushes of varying sizes.

First of all, we smeared the first coat of paint onto the white masks – my choice was a deep navy blue – then took them to another table to blow them dry with a hair-drier.

A second coat followed – mine was silver – then we created various, highly artistic squiggly bits before Fiorella varnished them.

Painting Masks l ©ornaoreilly.comFinally, we glued some little diamante studs strategically onto the masks, affixed feathers, tied ribbons onto the sides and Bingo! We were the proud artists who had just created our very own masks.

Before we left, Fiorella presented us with copies of a wonderful book on the making of these exquisite cartalana (absorbent paper) masks. Entitled “Maschere a Venezia” by Mario Belloni, it is full of gorgeous photos of all the different types of masks and their history; a visual treat. Available HERE.

Arriving home, having proudly carried the plastic bag containing my mask, while ever on the alert to protect its silver feather on the vaporetto and train, I took it out and marvelled at how it positively glowed.

Painting Masks l ©ornaoreilly.com

I cannot tell you how much fun we packed into our hour at Ca’ Macana and would highly recommend this simple activity, requiring no artistic skills whatsoever, as an entertaining way to spend a morning in Venice.

My fellow bloggers – visiting from the US – have great blogs on their Italian travels. Here they are, click on their names for details of their blogs: Victoria, Margie and Susan.

Orna O’Reilly

Veneto, Italy

14 thoughts on “A Day in Venice: Painting Masks

  1. Wow. What an absolutely fabulous way to spend a morning. I have a thing for masks and have been collecting them for many years including several from Venice. Your photos are so fun

    • Hi Lyn. I cannot begin to tell you what a lovely morning we had painting our masks. There was a huge thunder-storm outside while we were painting, but we were snug in our workroom having lots of laughs over our various artistic efforts. As we emerged, the sun came out and we headed for a grand lunch together. A lovely day with fun people. Orna

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