The Artisan Maskers are a group of cousins, sisters, and friends who started making papier-mache masks as accessories for a fancy party and became addicted!
Their most dedicated maskers are Ashley, sister-in-law of: Abigail, cousin to: Amy, cousin to: Sarah, sister to: Amanda, best friend of: Julianna, sister to: Emily. (Sounds convoluted, I know, but they somehow manage to keep them selves straight!)
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
Several years ago, we threw a masquerade ball and were frustrated to find that high quality papier-mache masks could only be purchased online and cost a FORTUNE. Being cheapskates, we decided to figure out how to make them ourselves instead. Because we have no ties to "traditional" mask-making, we feel comfortable sticking just about anything on a mask. Feathers? Of course. Glitter? Duh. Fabric scraps, bits of jewelry, faux flowers, beadwork from questionable sources (a pair of flip-flops, like), stuff we find in the gutter? Oh, yes.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Well, Ashley and Sarah like to do anything artistic (draw, paint, sculpt, sew, crochet, scrapbook--seriously, ANYTHING artistic), Amy and Amanda like to read and eat chocolate, Emily enjoys singing, Julianna likes to write and choreograph dance, and Abigail enjoys mocking us all mercilessly. And most of us are happy to be wives and mommies, too.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Getting the word out. Truth is, there just aren't that many occasions when you need a spectacular one-of-a-kind papier-mache mask; so we're always bummed when we find out that there HAS been occasion for them, and people didn't know about us.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Happy! And, most fortunate for all of us, we manage it more often than not.
What item in your collection would you like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
As all of the masks live at my (Amanda's) house until they are sent on their merry way to a contented customer, so I can't say that I'd truly want to KEEP any of them. There are only so many masks you can take, after all. Here are a couple of personal favorites from each masker, though:
What other artists out there do you love?
Lots of illustrators: K.Y. Craft, Trina Schart Hyman, Hilary Knight, to name a few. Since Sarah's the REAL artist, her favorite visual artist (Claude Monet) probably counts for more. We are all very motivated by music, as well, and such musical artists as Juanes, Mika, Queen, Sting, Muse, and Tarkan have gotten us through those long nights of mask-making.
What does your future hold?
More bizarre mask-making escapades, more kids for some of us, changes in jobs and houses and schools, and a couple of really fabulous parties that will hopefully inspire us to take new directions. You know, all the usual things that come along with the passage of time.