The Contessa's Confidant

Articles tagged as leather (view all)

Phoenix Mask

Posted by Jennifer Syas on 09 April, 2017 0 comments

The inspiration for the Phoenix Mask came from seeing a peacock take off in flight at a zoo. You don't see many pictures or videos of peacocks flying around. Most of the images are of the peacock standing still, displaying the full fan of his tail, but the moment I saw that peacock take off, and the way his tail flowed behind him, I understood why eastern style art depicted phoenixes as looking more peacock like than eagle like. So even when I first designed the peacock mask for a friend of mine, I already had that desire to show a flying peacock as a phoenix. 

Something that may seem surprising is the the Phoenix Mask is probably the design that takes me the longest. Cutting out and carving the mask is much the same as the peacock mask. It has pointier wing feathers, some sparks coming off the wings, and different feathers coming off the head. 

Both the peacock and the phoenix are very detailed to paint. The main difference is that while the metallic paint may take two or three coats to get good coverage over a dark dye, the flat paints can take 5 or more! The blending, layers and details take a considerable amount of time.


The painting of this mask alone takes me 11 hours or more. The yellow alone takes 7 or 8.

This is why I say my masks are a labor of love. I may not be making a lot for the hours put into the design, but I feel that it's worth it, because it is such an eye catching and striking mask.

The Story of the Wayfarer Mask

Posted by Jennifer Syas on 10 November, 2016 0 comments

One of my most popular designs, especially when seen in person, is my Wayfarer mask. This is the style that was voted on and will be given away on December 1st. (See our facebook page for details!) So, for my first blog post, I thought you all might like to know how this mask came to be.

5 years ago, a group of my friends embarked on an adventure. They decided to use their love of the classic quest adventure, and medieval fantasy to do good, and they called themselves the Wayfarers. They raised funds and awareness for cancer research, and in return, walked 500 miles through Ireland and Scotland while wearing medieval garb. As with all great quests, there were some unexpected mishaps, but in September of 2012 they walked their 500 miles and raised $17,000 in the process. It was such an exciting undertaking. I raised funds and spread the word about their work, but once it was over I wanted to find a way to commemorate their journey with my art.

So, I created the Wayfarer Mask. A brown leather mask with a hand carved map featuring the parts of Ireland and Scotland where they originally planned their expedition. The hand drawn look of the map was important to me. I wanted the mask to evoke a sense of adventure and mystery. Even though my hand cramps up every time I have to carve all those lakes and rivers, I still love making it. The dye is two colors of antiquing gel, to give it that aged monochrome look, while still letting the continents pop out from the ocean. The second dye is carefully brushed on with a small brush, going around each cove and peninsula, filling in each lake. A compass went perfectly with the design, it is a focal point, and a bit of brightness with the brass and copper colors I just love against the warm brown. More than that, however, it was a symbol of the Wayfarers, and it's a symbol I've always been drawn to. To me, it says that excitement and the unknown are coming. If you have a compass, you are ready for an adventure to begin!