Tom Banwell Masks

Tom Banwell’s masks are some of the most recognizable and unique Steampunk masks out there right now. With Halloween approaching fast, there is a pressing necessity for something unique and standout from  the crowds of cheap, pre-assembled costumes. I do believe I recognize one of his pieces from the Steampunk art exhibition at the Museums of the History of Science in Oxford, England.

Mr. Banwell runs a blog wherein he talks about his unique masterpieces. You can check it out here. His pieces are for sale on Etsy.

Mr. Banwell is a largely self taught artist. Here’s a brief bio about his background and artistic inspirations from his website:

I have no formal art training, and am largely self taught. I have dabbled in a variety of media over the years, including batik, woodcarving, mixed media art dolls and leatherworking.

Creating art in a steampunk genre suits me exceedingly well because it combines several of my interests—history, costuming, mechanics and fantasy—and I can bring these together and get wildly creative in my leatherwork.

As a child I was fascinated with helmets and other hats, and I collected them. As an adult I’ve had a business designing and making men’s Western leather hats that sold throughout the United States. My current business is casting custom resin pieces, and much of that work consists of imitating other materials: bronze, marble, wood, etc.

In my creative leatherwork I draw on this experience and incorporate resin components into my artwork. Today I find my greatest creative expression in fantasy masks and helmets. I love experimenting and seeing how leather will behave when cut and soaked and twisted. I love the shapes and the colors, and how my masks and helmets can instantly transform the wearer into a whole other character.

My studio is in the little town of Rough and Ready, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect mask to go with that Steampunk ensemble you are assembling for Halloween, or just looking for the finishing to touches to your Steam driven wardrobe, you won’t fun much more unique or quality work with Mr. Banwell’s works of wearable art.

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Masks by Jen

Masks by Jen is another merchant on the floor at A-Kon that truly captured my attention. Masks have always been an article of clothing which has fascinated me after I first read The Phantom of the Opera back in sixth grade. The many cultural and spiritual uses for masks over the centuries of human existence is positively fascinating. There’s no piece of human adornment that has such incredible transformative powers as a mask.

If you all read my A-Kon overview post, you know that I did not elect to go to the masquerade. I was far too busy getting autographs from Abney Park and hugs from Nathaniel to actually make it to the dance. I had anticipated this, and thankfully stuck to this plan of action, because I came to A-Kon without a mask. If I had not been so firmly set on Abney Park autographs, the Masks at Jen’s booth would have surely swayed me to attend in one of her masterpieces.

That’s just one example of the many remarkable masks that Jen has produced. I really like that the masks are made from durable leather so their sure to last and survive being thrown in a suitcase for transportation. My favorite of hers is her Phoenix mask… it’s just stunning!

Jen is also another local artist to the DFW area. You can read more about her here.  Unfortunately she does not have a schedule of events so we may know where she will turn up next, but her website more than sufficient to handle a purchase should you wish to buy one of these wonderful masks.

Papercraft Steampunk Warwalker and Phillip Valdez Masks

Yesterday, I was forwarded this picture of a Steampunk Warwalker by my internet ninja friend. It is a submission by Phillip Valdez for 1000 Steampunk Inspirations, an upcoming book by Barbe Saint John (which is accepting submissions until June 1, so if you want to submit something, hurry!). It’s really an impressive work, but the fact that this contraption is made entirely from paper, glue, and paint just blows my mind.

Simply astounding what a person can do with paper, paint, and glue. Which, naturally, got me wondering what other sorts of projects Mr. Valdez undertakes, which let me to his website and blog, wherein I found such marvels as:

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Oh my… these are AWESOME! So dramatic and delicate, these masks would be sure to be the center of attention at a masquerade. I’m a big fan of the last three masks that represent cards in the standard tarot deck. The death mask is stunning, especially when offset with the black and red of the model’s attire. I want one of these so badly. Nevermind that transporting it to any function would be a pain and that I would probably spend the entire masquerade worrying about someone tearing my mask…these are beautiful! And this is just a small sampling of Mr. Valdez’s incredible talent.

Too bad the masquerade for A-Kon happens right after the Abney Park concert and requires formal wear. There’s just no chance that I’d change out of my Steampunk attire and go to the masquerade rather than pass up the opportunity for some autographs and to chat with Abney Park after the concert. Perhaps they’ll have a masquerade at SteamCon…