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If your knowledge of Italy is limited to pasta and the Sopranos, buy a homemade Italian feather mask. Italians have made feather masks for centuries--it's just one of the cultural contributions from this artistic and scientific country. But how do you care for your papier-mache Italian Carnival masks?
First off, don't worry if the Mardi Gras mask you see in the catalog doesn't look like the one you receive--the handcrafted papier-mâché masks aren't mass-produced in an assembly-line fashion. You haven't inadvertently damaged your feather mask.
You can keep your Mardi Gras feather mask looking beautiful by wrapping it in bubble wrap for packing. You may not want to carry it on the plane because of security screenings and baggage handling. Make sure to apply a waterproof seal to protect the delicate material. Although papier-mâché hardens during the mask process, it's best not to let it get soaked, say if someone pours water on you during the festivities!
When you bring your homemade feather mask home, store it in bubble wrap or tissue paper in a box, or hang it on the wall to decorate your home. Bring a touch of Italy back from Mardi Gras and speak with respect about the Italian culture when you're eating your Fettucine Alfredo.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|