Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Know Your Venetian Masks

The following article was submitted by guest-poster Brenda Hineman. Enjoy! -D.

While we mostly tend to associate freakish masks with Halloween, Mardi Gras/Carnevale gives us another celebration that openly embraces masks and costumes. While some may find them freakish, others find them equally beautiful. Whatever your stance on Venetian masks, knowing the different types of masks can help increase your appreciation of them. Without further delay, here is a quick primer on the different types of Venetian Masks.

The Bauta mask is one of easiest Venetian masks to identify. Characterized by a pronounced chin and jawline, the Bauta may even come to a jutting point at the tip of the chin. Different masks have their own historical adornment, and the Bauta traditionally features generous amounts of gilding and gold-leaf work. Interestingly enough, the pronounced chin feature of the Bauta also serves a very practical purpose, allowing party-goers to eat and drink with the mask still on, as to maintain their disguise at all times.

The Volto mask is also known as the Larva mask, from the Latin "evil spirit" or "ghost". Appropriately, then, the traditional Volto mask is all white and usually worn with a black cloak and tri-corner hat. As a more form-fitting mask, Voltos were made of a light wax cloth to ensure more comfort and breathability than some other Venetian masks. Over time, the classic white Volto has been seen as a canvas for decoration, allowing for much more ornate versions than its original conception.


The Moretta is a mask traditionally worn by women who were visiting convents. The Moretta is also known as the "Servetta Muta" or "mute maid servant". This name comes from the fact that the mask was held in place by a button on the inside of the mask that the wearer would bite down on, thus preventing the ability to speak while wearing the mask. Although invented in France, it became very popular in Venice for its simple black appearance that accentuated female features. This is the least common of Venetian masks still worn today, as it promptly fell out of favor in the 1760s.


The Columbine is a half-mask that is held in place with either a baton held in the hand or a ribbon tied around the back of the head. Whereas other masks discussed so far have been full masks, the Columbine is a half mask. Traditional decoration of the Columbine includes gold or silver, jewels, and a wide array of different feathers. The Columbine is the most popular Venetian mask in contemporary society as it is very light, comfortable, and makes talking, eating, and drinking very easy.


The Medico Della Peste is translated into English as "The Plague Doctor". This unique name has origins that are just as macabre as the mask itself. Characterized by a long bird-like beak, the Medico Della Peste was originally worn as a full-mask, but many half-mask variations exist today. Unlike some other Venetian Masks that were designed with appearance as the primary focus, the Medico Della Peste has its roots with Charles de Lorme, a French doctor in the 16th century who fashioned this mask to wear in his extensive time spent treating plague victims. While other Venetian masks don't usually have an identifiable accessory, the Medico Della Peste is, once again, very different. Because its roots lie with doctors during the plague era, the Medico Della Peste is often accompanied by a cane or stick that was originally used for poking dead or near-dead bodies to avoid contact and reduce the spread of the disease. CONCLUSION.In time, the lines that define the styles of Venetian masks have blurred. It is common for the once-white Volto to be very ornate. Indeed, we may have all done a mask painting project in high school art classes that involved creating a variation of the Volto. Likewise, there seems no limitation to the variations of the Columbine. One thing that has not changed in hundreds of year, however, is the availability of Venetian masks everywhere from your local costume shop, to high-end collectible artisan masks designers. Find one you love and make a statement this Mardi Gras / Carnevale season.

Brenda Hineman is a costume aficionado who also writes about Halloween Costumes at StarCostumes.com.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

I decided to re-write the classic Night Before Christmas with words of my own expressing my increasing frustration with the absurdities and trappings of the Christmas Season to which everyone in America is supposed to subscribe otherwise be treated as a leper! I read this at our first Halloween/Christmas party this past Saturday and it went over quite well. Enjoy!

The Night Before Christmas
(Why I love Halloween)
by Dale Morton

Twas the night before Christmas and for eight solid weeks
It’d been nothing but hell for us Halloween freaks.
Even before all our pumpkins had begun to decay
The Season of “Peace” was well under way.

The aisles of costumes were not even gone,
When dozens of Santas were selling by dawn.
We went from the season of witches and ghouls
Right into continual reindeer and Yules!

The round-the-clock music had started at midnight,
The same old tired songs, oh, this just can’t be right!
White Christmas and Frosty, Sleigh Riding we go,
Winter Wonderland, there’s not one flake of snow!

By the time the sun rose houses had their lights hung,
Inflatable snowmen from green lawns had sprung.
As I cleaned up the mess from my All Hallows bash
The holiday changed, oh, it switched in a flash!

The outcry for Christmas, it seemed so insistent,
It’s as if Thanksgiving was no longer existent.
The buying, the selling, a calamitous rut,
I’ve never even tasted a roasted chestnut.

Black Friday it came with media fanfare,
The bargains, stampedes, the greed laid so bare.
The Elmos, the Zu-Zus, when will it all stop?
This horrible, ceaseless impulse to shop?

We spend and we spend, we go further in debt,
Closer and closer to the edge do we get.
Until on the day when our credit bills come,
We wonder what did we spend it all on!

And how many times can they run those same shows?
We already know about Rudolph’s red nose!
A Christmas Story twenty-four seven again,
It’s a Wonderful Life, it should be a sin!

Miracle on 34th Street for the one-millionth time,
Once it passes a thousand it should be a crime!
Santa Clause I, Santa Clause II,
If they air them again I swear I will sue!

We’re supposed to hang stockings by the chimney with care
But if I see one more elf I’ll pull out my hair!
And all of the magic I knew in my youth
Has all been replaced by something uncouth.

We eat so much sweets, we drink so much nog,
We even feed this crap to the cat and the dog!
We stuff ourselves full, we pack on the pounds,
We gorge on fresh turkey, we consume it in mounds!

And on Christmas Day all the gifts that we got,
The shirt that someone apparently felt was so hot.
The kids they all sit amidst boxes and toys,
Their Wii games, their iPods and electronic joys.

And when it’s all over we look back and complain
At the thousands we’ve spent, at the weight that we’ve gained.
We’re tired, we’re exhausted, we’ve ‘bout had enough
Of Christmas, of Santa, of presents and stuff.

So at last when the day finally comes to a close
The madness is over and I’m starting to dose,
I think back again at this Christmas I’ve seen
And it reminds me just why I love Halloween.

Halloween/Christmas Party

This year we decided to have a mid-December Halloween/Christmas party for those of us who absolutely love Halloween AND Christmas...but are basically fed up with having the Christmas Season and all of its increasingly absurd trappings shoved down our throats beginning immediately after Halloween!!! Thus, we joined the Christmas Resistance and had this little party, which turned out to be a tremendous amount of fun. We read lists of grievances that we all have with the Christmas Season, wore creepy Christmas-themed costumes and basically had a great time. We're planning on doing it again next year.

Halloween Gathering 2009

Here are a few images from my annual Halloween Gathering, which was a tremendous success! The link is to the entire collection of photos. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Studio Facebook page

I would like to announce that DALE MORTON STUDIO now has its own Facebook page. So drop in, visit and become a fan when you get a minute. There are photo galleries of mascot costumes, specialty costumes, masks, make-up, creatures, monsters, models and all sorts of other weird things. Hope you like it! -Dale.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Robert G. Withrow Collection

Hi, everyone! I wanted to take a moment to share with you all a very impressive costume, prop and movie memorabilia collection that has been amassed by my lifelong friend, ROBERT WITHROW. Although his collection of toys began in his youth, his current collection was kicked off with his acquisition of the limited edition full-size Rubie’s Darth Vader display. This was quickly followed by the limited edition Illusive Concepts Han Solo in Carbonite and the Don Post full size Stormtrooper figure, after which the collection snowballed into what it has become today.

Some of the finer items worth noting in the Withrow Collection include numerous screen-used costumes and items acquired through various auctions. Some highlights include:

-Scott Glenn’s coverall from The Hunt for Red October
-Sam Elliott’s Thunderbolt Ross uniform from Ang Lee’s Hulk
-Chancellor Gorkon’s & General Chang’s costumes from Star Trek VI
-Admiral Cartwright’s uniform from Trek VI
-Various original costumes from Star Trek TOS, TNG, Voyager & DS9, including the original Technician Fisher jumpsuit from The Enemy Within with yellow space ore stain still visible.
-Background Klingon mask used in Trek VI & costume used first in ST: TMP.
-2 Microbe organisms from Star Trek III
-Original stunt knife blade used in the Trek episode Mirror, Mirror
-Original TOS Commodore Decker tunic braid from The Doomsday Machine
-Background Ape costume used in Beneath the Planet of the Apes
-From Titanic: officer’s jacket, life vest, sherry glass, First Class dinner plate and aged 20 dollar bank notes.

Additional costumes in The Collection include a number of re-created costumes used in James Cawley’s Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II films. Also in the accompanying gallery is an impressive pictorial showing Mr. Withrow (Captain Kirk), Clayton Sayre (Spock) and Sam Batman (Scotty) in various poses on James Cawley’s Enterprise bridge set taken during their visit to the New Voyages/Phase II studio in Ticonderoga, NY in 2008.

In addition to the Vader, Han & Stormtrooper mentioned previously, other replica props and costumes in The Collection include:

-Illusive Concepts lifesize Yoda
-Lifesize Darth Maul figure
-Fan-made working R2-D2
-“Vader Revealed” bust
-Fan-made full size Cylon centurion costume
-Terminator endoskeleton made by Paul Francis Studios
-Lifesize Predator figure
-Fan-made Star Trek TOS Captain’s Chair
-Fully-lighted TOS & TMP Enterprise models
-Fully-working Icons Lost in Space Robot (very rare!)
-Fan-made ROTLA Ark of the Covenant
-ROTLA Fertility Idol
-Fully lighted Millenium Falcon from Master Replicas
-Boris Karloff Frankenstein figure assembled & painted by Clayton Sayre (head sculpt by Mel Tevis)
-Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera figure assembled & painted by Clayton Sayre (head sculpted by Mel Tevis)

And finally there are a scattering of items including an authentic Goldfinger gold bar prop, various celebrity autographed stills, and an endless array of collectible toys, models, and props.

Here is the link to the full pictorial along with a few teaser shots. Enjoy!



Friday, July 31, 2009

Wonder Woman FINISHED

And here is Krystal's finished Wonder Woman costume which she debuted at 2009's San Diego Comic Con this past weekend. She was a HUGE HIT, not to mention totally gorgeous! Everything you see was made by me (except the boots). Every piece of her armor was first sculpted, molded, then run in fiberglass and professionally painted by my brother, who does auto body paint work. I am offering copies of these armor pieces, both painted and unpainted, for sale. Contact me through www.dalemortonstudio.com if you're interested. Hope you like 'em! -D.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wonder Woman

Here are some shots of a Wonder Woman costume I'm making for a girl named Krystal in California for debut at 2009's San Diego Comic Con coming up toward the end of July. The entire costume is based on Terry Dodson's WW. The armor will be sculpted, made of fiberglass and painted chrome gold. I'll post shots of that as it takes shape. The corset is shiny red fabric on the outside but vinyl underneath for shapely support. Each star on the trunks has been individually applied. -Dale.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sally Jupiter

The shots above are the drop-dead gorgeous Carla Gugino as sexy crimefighter Sally Jupiter from Watchmen. The following shots are of the best Sally Jupiter costume I've seen thus far, made by a beautiful fellow costuming friend of mine named Tally.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Today my friend Clayton Sayre made me aware of the fact that I had tragically neglected to include his fine costume of Dr. Carl Hill in my posts about DragonCon '08. So, instead of going back and working it into the previous post I felt it deserved a post all its own. For those who don't know, Dr. Hill (played by David Gale) was the villain in the classic '80s horror/comedy flick Re-Animator. In the course of the film he gets his head lobbed off after threatening one of his students, Herbert West, who then reanimates the doctor's body and head with his life-giving "re-agent" formula. The headless body, of course, then proceeds to carry around its disembodied head in a metal pan that it routinely replenishes with fresh blood. Clayton had talked about making this costume for some time but finally took the plunge this past year to absolutely hilarious results. He had acquired a copy of a lifecast of David Gale's face and from that created the latex head you see sitting perched in the bloody pan. Clayton could hardly see anything at all from his position inside the shirt and had to be guided into the hotel. But aside from these hardships it was an incredible hit and was one of the more unique and original costumes of the convention. "MORE PASSION!!!!!"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Plummy the Lighthouse

Here's an unusual mascot costume we just finished, a lighthouse named "Plummy", which stands for Plum Beach Lighthouse, located in Rhode Island. You see the finished costume and the design drawing on which it was based.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My ultimate Santa Claus suit

My son Sean's elementary school found themselves without a Santa this year for some unknown reason. My wife knew that I had always wanted to make an ultimate Santa suit for myself and she thought this might be a good excuse for me to finally tackle the project. So two weeks ago I threw myself happily into the creation of a costume based more on the Eurpoean Father Christmas rather than the typical Americanized Santa that you see in every department store, which I've never liked much anyway. My Santa has a hooded, floor-length red cloak trimmed in white fur, an inner cloak made of gold & pinkish stretch fabric overlaid with gold netting & gold corded fringe at its bottom, and the cloak is held together with gold chain and two faux diamond pendants. My very first appearance at Hurricane Town Elementary was today and was a tremendous success. Cindy accompanied me dressed in our Rudolph costume, much to the delight of the children. It was so much fun I hope to get other opportunities to don this fine costume and play jolly ol' Saint Nicholas for many more children. Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008