For the discerning collector we create custom works of art based on existing pieces or original ideas. Contact us for consultation and pricing.PREVIEW
Masks for Rent
Many of our masks are available for rental. This is an ideal way to gain the use of dramatic masks with a limited budget. Perfect for theater, dance, and opera companies, video production, musical groups, and party events.
Masks for Sale
We offer a variety of wire framed ½, ¾ and full-face masks, as well as helmet masks, forehead masks,
body masks, and more.
Our mask line also includes unframed fabric masks that are lightweight, inexpensive, and suitable for parties and play.
Casting and Mold Making
Let your artistic visions come to life with Behind the Mask's custom casting and mold making. We work with
silicone, urethane, plaster, and other materials to create molds for masks, props, and body castings, including
pregnancy casting (we recommend silicone casting for pregnancy cast).
We also create personalized portrait and double portrait masks cast from life, for birthdays, weddings, Valentines Day, and other special occasions.
We have been making costumes for our own productions for 20 years. We now offer a full range of costume services and rentals. For our latest project we created 40 costumes for Contemporary Theater of Boston's production of "Midsummer Night's Dream".
Repairs and Warranties
Behind the Mask Studio offers mask and sculpture repair for artworks in a variety of media. Our masks are made to our exacting construction standards. Even so, masks must be treated with care. We offer a limited warranty on all masks that we sell, which includes refitting and minor repirs due to normal wear and tear.
"The Woman Who Outshone the Sun"
A beautiful and mysterious woman with magical powers is exiled from a mountain village and she takes away
its water source, a vital river. Through their suffering for what they have lost, the villagers learn important
lessons of tolerance, forgiveness, and the frailty of the ecosystem. Performed as a bilingual story (Spanish
& English), and based on a poem by Alejandro Cruz Martinez.
Children’s performance for ages 4-10.
"Once Upon a Time"
A masque of magical stories from the Brothers Grimm, Italo Calvino, and Celtic legend, performed to music as
old as the tales and as new as the telling. Hark to the Hobgoblin, laugh with foolish Arlecchino, learn the
lore of the Druid, understand the language of animals, and let the siren spell of the mermaid's song
enchant you into a wondrous world of rags to riches, the hero's quest, and true love lost and found.
This show is suitable for all ages.
Cat Mountain tells the story of Sho, a young servant girl, who journeys to a strange and far-off mountain,
where she hopes to find her freedom and her lost cat. But as the people she meets on the way tell her –
“ No one has ever returned from Cat Mountain!” Puppetry, dance, masks, and Japanese theater-styles
all combine in Behind The Mask's original adaptation of this magical folktale.
Children’s performance for ages 4-10.
Inspired by the legends of Budai, the Laughing Buddha, Lion Dancer dramatizes the story of the Lion Dance, seen
at every Chinese New Year's celebration. A mysterious stranger summons a magical and noble Lion, who chases
away a terrible dragon, the Nian, from a peaceful village. This program features phantasmagorical masks and
costumes, stunning martial arts, and traditional Chinese Lion Dance, and includes instruction in lion dancing.
Program Time: 55 minutes ; performance 20 minutes, workshop 20 minutes, talkback 15 minutes.
"Monkey King Tales”
A Chinese folk epic told through storytelling, masks, shadow puppetry, original music and martial arts! Behind
the Mask Theatre brings Monkey King to life, a boisterous and unlikely hero in search of immortality, who causes
havoc in Heaven and on Earth.
This show is suitable for all ages.
"Masks of Odysseus"
You've heard Homer tell it; now hear it from the characters themselves! Hear the tales of Polyphemos the cyclops,
Circe the Sorceress, Posidon the raging sea god, Telemachus the son, and more. Truly, the hero touches us all, always
with liberating or devastating effects.
This show is suitable for ages 8 to adults.
Teatro delle Maschere
Teatro delle Maschere is Behind the Mask Studio’s in house commedia dell’arte troupe under the
direction of actor and playwright, Ian Thal /blog.
Commedia dell’arte is a comedic theatre form that used masks and improvisation that arose in 16th century
Italy. Its characters, plots, and antics directly inspired such playwrights as Shakespeare, Dario Fo, and Fredrico
Garcia Lorca, as well as such popular entertainment as Punch & Judy.
Teatro delle Maschere creates comic presentations for both young and adult audiences also gives workshops in mime and commedia dell’arte for students and artists.
◆ Bolded classes are upcoming.
◆ Non-Bold classes are not currently scheduled.
Art 0f the Mask / AOTM 01
We will discuss Italian, Balinese, and African styles of mask making. You will design and create your own durable,
ready-to-wear mask. Course covers mask design, face casting, clay and paper mache techniques, painting and finishing
Duration: 8 week course
This is the intro class to "free-building," a versatile approach to mask construction utilizing simple
materials, found objects, and other easy-to-find components to build a basic face/helmet mask. Instead of just the
facial area being developed, the headpiece will be incorporated into the design to create a small helmet mask that
straps under the chin. So if you ever dreamed of making a Medusa, green man, or any other character that would benefit
from a more encompassing design, here it is! This class will also prepare you for Mask III, where we construct giant
parade & festival masks with similar principles and materials.
Prerequisite: AOTM 01 or have permission of the instructor.
Duration: 8 week course
Learn to build large scale helmet and body masks suitable for outdoor festivals, parades, and processions, such as
Venetian Carnevale and Basel Fasnacht - with the option to wear them at our First Night® appearances. Syllabus
and materials list sent to registered students.
examples of students' work
Prerequisite: AMTM 01 and AOTM 02, or permission of the instructor.
Duration: 8 week course
Mold–Making Master Class
This is the one you all wanted! Design and create durable, finely crafted papier mâche masks suitable for high level performances or gallery display. In this master class you will create a custom plaster face cast, sculpt in plasticene, fashion a 2-part plaster negative mold & mother mold, cast into this with BTM’s unique system for papier mâche, trim, paint, and craft your finished face and small helmet mask into a fine work of art.
Prerequisite: AOTM 01 or have permission of the instructor.
Duration: 10 Week course
Performing the Mask
Bring your mask to life through movement! Discover the postures, movements, sounds, and personality of any
mask. Course includes special mask-theatre exercises, guided play, and a chance to perform to the group.
Masks will be provided.
Duration: 3 hours
Portrait Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
A portrait is more than a face! Based in part on Betty Edwards' ground-breaking book, Drawing On The Right
Side of The Brain, the curriculum systematically introduces vital perceptual drawing skills to help organize
visual information and capture the essence of your subjects. Classes will focus on gaining a familiarity with
useful drawing strategies, materials, issues of composition, and attainment of the right ambience to render
effective works. Bring medium/soft pure graphite pencil, vine charcoal, and 18" x 24" newsprint or
white drawing pad to first class.
Duration: Available as single classes OR as a Full semester.
Contact us for more information.
SPECIAL EVENT: 1-Day Guided Maskmaking
2 single-session mask building workshops with Artisan's Asylum for cosplayers, con goers, and others who consider themselves Mask Afficionados! Get yourself ready for Artisan's Asylum's Maker's Masquerade / Halloween or work on your current or next cosplay costume with this single-session intro class. Come learn "free-building," a versatile approach to mask construction utilizing simple materials, found objects, and other easy-to-find components to build a basic face/helmet mask. Instead of only the facial area being developed, the headpiece can be incorporated into the design to create a mask that straps under the chin. If you've ever dreamed of making a fuller mask or need assistance with any other character that would benefit from a more encompassing design, this class is for you!
This class has a flexible structure: we will be able to accommodate absolute beginners as well as more intermediate folks.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
Thursday, October 27th, 2016
Locaton: 10 Tyler Street Somerville, MA
MORE INFO / REGISTER
Quick Mask Making
Working buffet style, students select an appropriate elastic strapped papier mache mask blank and then proceed to choose materials, such as cheneille stems, pony beads, jewels, feathers, fur, or fabric, to apply at glueing stations, before augmenting with painted patterns and textures. Finished masks are padded to ensure a comfortable fit. Educators display samples, discuss techniques, and facilitate each process. This workshop can be adapted for any age group, from young children to adults.
Masks of the World
Slide Lecture From Africa to Bali, Italy to Kalimantan, and from Switzerland to Argentina, astonishing masks have been created across the world for ritual, theater, and festivals since the earliest times. Master mask maker Eric Bornstein takes you on an exciting tour of world masking traditions, from the classic traditions to those you have never seen before.
Drawing the Mask
In this valuable workshop for all aspiring mask makers, through drawing exercises, we explore with drawing exercises the language of the face: gender, age, emotion, status, character, and archetype. Considerations concerning special functions of the mask design, as when designing for dancers, singers, and actors will also be covered.
Behind the Mask Studio school presentors have delivered innovative arts education to the finest schools in the region, including The Shady Hill School and The Windsor School. Most BTM programs are anchored by one of our mask theater performances. Behind the Mask Studio residency programs are customized to meet with Massachusetts State Curriculum Guideline Standards and your class curriculm for maximum relevance. To keep our programs and techniques active in your classrooms, professional development sessions are available for school educators. We work together with faculty and administrators to ensure successful programs. Program offerings include: Quick Mask Making, Performing the Mask, Masks of the World, Shadow Puppetry, Theater Development, Painting Faux Finishes for Masks, Giant Collage Murals, Art of the Mask 002, Portrait Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.PREVIEW
Halloween Mask Making
Unleash the creatures of the night! Be ready for this season's costume party with a beautiful, durable, hand-made mask of your own design. The masks will be made from simple recyclable material: papier mache, fabric, cardboard, and foam. Working from a clear, concise syllabus, we will work each stage weekly together in class with some take-home work. The finished product: a professional-quality mask suitable for parties, performances, or display, that will outclass any store-bought mask.
Painting Faux Finishes for Masks
Learn the secrets to magical painting! Master mask maker Eric Bornstein leads students through a variety of mask painting techniques, including spongeing, scumbling/drybrush, rubbing, ragging, collage, and many more! These techniques are most suitable to work with acrylic paint.
Giant Collage Murals
Giant collage brings group efforts into monumental results! Using paint and a variety of torn and cut paper and fabric materials, we will design and then lay out and piece together our collaged materials.
Purim Mask Making for Kids
Create quick and fun masks with paper bags, paints, and decorative materials. Choose from your favorite
Purim characters. Everyone will come out with a finished mask. Wear smocks or old clothing.
Suitable for ages 5-10.
Purim Puppet Making
Create quick and fun shadow puppets with cardboard, dowels, and other simple materials. Choose your
favorite Purim characters. Everyone will come out with a finished puppet, suitable for performance.
Wear smocks or old clothing.
Suitable for age 8 and up.
Figures and Faces as Collage
Drawing inspiration from Romare Beardon, the Dadaists, and contemporary collage artists, we will explore
the possibilities of using colored paper, tissue paper, fabric, printed words, and found matrials to create
stunning and unique works of art. Exercises include: limited palette compositions, self portraits, mosaic,
the power of words, and lost objects re-found.
Suitable for ages 8 and up.
Surface Secrets: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Creating Paint Effects, Faux Finishes, and Relief SurfacesLearn a wide variety of the amazing painting and surfacing techniques that are used to create art for award-winning Behind The Mask Studio. Patination, crackle glaze, scumbling, gold-leafing, rubbing, mixed media relief, lapis lazuli, and many other effects will be covered. Open to all levels.
Presenters give background to shadow puppetry, and demonstrate examples, including a traditional Indonesian wayang kulit shadow puppet. Students then design, construct and perform their creations on our shadow screen.PREVIEW
A professional theater director leads children in theater projcts ranging from readers theater, scene development, to full short plays with script work, theater games, and stage direction.
Hire Us for Parties and Special Events
Let Behind the Mask host your next party or special event! Our indoor and covered outdoor spaces provide a venue any time of the day or night, rain or shine, and at most times of year. Need to make your special events even more fantastic with live entertainment? We've got you covered with a variety of live performances, including but not limited to musicians, actors, puppeteers, and storytellers! Our outdoor space is available mid-spring through mid-fall.
Kids' Parties and Workshops
A regular birthday becomes a trip into the imagination when your child has his/her party with Behind the Mask Studio! Live performances, customized themed parties, and kids' mask/puppet making workshops transform your child's birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, graduation or other special event into an unforgettable, hands-on creative experience! Contact us to schedule a date.
The Behind the Mask Studio stage, recently inaugurated with Ian Thal's irreverent and delightful Commedia dell'Arte show "Arlecchino am Ravenous," is available now for rehearsals, events and performances! This new outdoor venue for musicians, storytellers, puppeteers, actors, and other performing artists is available mid-spring through mid-fall and seats up to 25 people. Studio stage rental rates begin at $25/hr.
Behind the Mask Studio was founded by Eric Bornstein in 1990. We specialize in mask theater, arts education, custom made masks and costumes. Our company has worked with a wide variety of artists, performance groups, and institutions, including the Boston Ballet, Windsor School, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Eric has studied with masters Agung Suardana in Bali, and Donato Sartori in Italy. He received his MLA in Fine Arts
along with the Thomas Small prize from Harvard University. His masks have appeared most recently in the 31st Cambridge
River Festival, Contemporary Theater of Boston’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Performance Lab’s Le
Cabaret Grimm, Underground Railway Theater’s Life of Galileo, and the Harvard Yiddish Players’ Shulamis.
Over the last 30 years Eric’s masked characters have appeared in a variety of venues. They were a highlight of
Boston’s First Night celebration for 15 years. His masks have also appeared at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston,
the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Kennedy Library/Museum, the Boston Lyric Opera, the
Boston Ballet, the Society of Arts & Crafts (Newbury Street), The Peabody/Essex Museum, King Richard's Faire,
and Revels. He currently teaches classes in making and performing masks, and offers performances and residencies to
schools throughout the state through Young Audiences of Massachusetts.
Mask-making is about rich storytelling, and fascinating characters – human, animal, and magical. When I create a mask, I celebrate the depth and diversity of the stories I love, the natural and mystical worlds we inhabit, and my very own soul.
Eric Bornstein MLA Harvard 2000 Fine Arts
When I tell people that I am a professional mask maker, they’re usually speechless. They rack their brains for a relevant follow-up, searching for scant references to my line of work. Perhaps they briefly envision an African carver squatting over a piece of wood in a hut, or a Venetian artisan laboring in his atelier/shop. Some might think of The Phantom of the Opera or Julie Taymor’s work for The Lion King. But few can grasp just what I do, or the idea that anyone from America could have such a job.
Mask-making is as odd an occupation as one can imagine, but not for me. I’ve studied visual and performing arts throughout my life, earning degrees in studio art and art history. I have conducted academic research in folklore and psychology, and have traveled to Bali and Italy for formal training in native mask making. I don masks for intimate, children’s theater shows, and parade as a Chinese Dragon before tens of thousands on New Year’s Eve. It’s the type of resume that, well, one might expect a mask-maker to have. But why have I fallen in love with such a unique art? Why have I made this my life’s work? For starters, mask-making is a transcendent art, something that continually introduces me to new cultures and ages of history long passed. Mask-making is about rich storytelling, and fascinating characters – human, animal, and magical. When I create a mask, I celebrate the depth and diversity of the stories I love, the natural and mystical worlds we inhabit, and my very own soul.
If my task is to make the mask of an owl, I first ask, “What owl? Male, female, old, young, wise, or foolish?” Over the next 25, 50 or 100 hours – indeed, the most intricate mask can take that long to create – I explore the character through study, sketching, thought and visualization. I might be further guided by a script, a director, or a personal experience in my life. In the end, maybe the mask that emerges is that of a fierce, Great Horned Owl. Or maybe, it’s a nebbish little bird with thick bifocals.
Beyond the finished product, my work gives me balance. It’s rewarding, purposeful, and celebratory. When performing, I am interacting with fellow actors and a huge audience. But I also hold dear my solitary studio time. These are the most satisfying and exciting aspects of my path as an artist – the relationships with extraordinary individuals that emerge from my work, and the opportunity to explore my own artistic wanderings. With masks, the range of artistic motifs and personality types is limitless.
For a mask to be powerful, of course, the character needs to resonate strongly within me, and express something important about me. I might trudge to the woods or to a zoo to observe owls as they fly, hunt and rest. My mask must mimic their essential characteristics, but it must also allow the actor or dancer who wears it to move freely. What points do I augment, tone down, or accent? How do I fuse the bird’s emotions with those of the performer? Hopefully, with each incremental decision I make, the mask’s form, rhythm and texture emerge on their own. In that way, the mask exhibits my own personality as well. And for sure, it will be nothing like than the next one I create.
6 Campbell Park Place (private way), West Somerville, Mass. 02144
email@example.com | 617. 417. 4961
Our studio is generally open from 10am to 6pm, Monday through Friday by appointment.
We are located just minutes away from Davis Square T-stop.
Free parking is available.
Directions to Behind The Mask Studio
By Car [ map ]
Take the Red Line T to Davis Square
Exit Turnstiles towards Holland Street
Off Stairs/Escalators exit left to Meacham Street
Walk through small park to bike path, walk 25 yards to circle
Exit Path to left and turn right onto Kingston Street
Walk ½ block to Campbell Park Place and turn right
Our house is #6 on the left against the bike path fence
The studio is in the rear.