Leather masks for art or costume

Castledale artist Pam Williamson uses hand-painted leather masks as her creative outlet.

Castledale artist Pam Williamson holds three of her hand-painted leather masks. Designs range from Haida-inspired (red

Castledale artist Pam Williamson holds three of her hand-painted leather masks. Designs range from Haida-inspired (red

Some of the most beautiful and interesting paintings are not done on a canvas.

Castledale artist Pam Williamson discovered that about four years ago when she discovered her passion for leather masks.

“I’ve been painting for 35 years, and I’ve been doing masks for about four years now. But it’s just a different medium for the same thing,” said Williamson, originally from the west coast. “I love it. Of all mediums I’ve worked with, I think I enjoy leather the most.”

Williamson makes leather masks of different shapes, sizes and designs, ranging from Haida-inspired pieces to butterflies and landscapes.

“It depends on your tastes what you’re into. The neatest thing that I find doing leather masks is, you can go off in any direction you want to. You’re not stuck doing any particular thing,” she said. “Every mask I do is my favourite at the time I’m doing it. At the moment, I really like doing the west coast Native masks, but that changes every time I come up with something new.”

Williamson has had her masks at various art galleries, art shows, farmers’ markets and craft fairs. She just did the Tour of the Arts in the Columbia Valley, has a show at Pynelogs Cultural Centre in Invermere coming up in September, and then a show in Golden in January before the Snow King Ball.

All the masks are for sale, and can be used as either wall art, or costume masks.

“Seventy per cent of my masks end up as wall art, and 30 per cent end up as costume masks. But the nice part about it is they do double duty,” said Williamson.

“They’re all eminently wearable. It’s nice working with an organic material, because it breathes. And that makes them quite comfortable to wear.”

They are also durable, so you don’t have to worry about wrecking them, as long as you don’t crush them, or get them wet.

“They will outlast you, as long as you take care of them. There’s only two things you don’t want to do; sit on it, or wear it in the bathtub,” said Williamson.

Williamson’s masks won’t be in the Art Gallery of Golden until January, but she will be the guest artist at the Spilli Bean Cafe’s artist tea on Saturday Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.