CA’ MACANA - 100% original paper-mache Venetian carnival masks.

The History of Ca’ Macana: rediscovering traditional Venetian masks

We started making traditional Venice masks in 1984 when the world-famous Carnival of Venice was in the midst of a comeback after nearly two centuries of decline. In those days there were no Venetian carnival masks available in shops, only glass replicas and plastic souvenirs.

Even though traditional Venetian masks were incredibly important for the social and cultural life of old Venice, the tradition of how to make Venetian masks had been lost.

In the late '70s and early '80s, after a bit of cultural foment that involved students and the Commedia dell’Arte, the city administration decided to relaunch the Carnival of Venice in grand style. Fantastic events were cooked up, and with the rebirth of the Venetian carnival, the need for Venice carnival masks was also reborn.

In those splendid days, we were just students, but also artists. Trying to make traditional Venetian masks seemed an interesting thing to do.

The first efforts at Venetian carnival masks were done at home, without any strict adherence to tradition, letting imagination go in full flight. The results were varied because no one at the time had a precise knowledge of what techniques and material to use. Thus, rediscovering how to make Venetian masks was a real adventure.

Over time we studied Carnival of Venice masks more and more, finally uncovering the true meaning of Venetian masks. It was something unique in all the world because traditional Venice masks had gone from something worn at parties and during festivals to a major part of daily life for citizens year-round.

From early days to founding the premiere Venice mask workshop


In 1984, almost without realizing it, we were laying the foundation for our future Venice mask atelier.

Since we were penniless students, we came up with the idea of trying to sell our handmade Venetian masks. We started by going down into the streets of Venice late at night when we were sure the police had gone by. Our masks were arranged on the ground on a piece of cloth, and we wondered whether anyone really wanted to buy them. To our surprise, success was immediate!

Since those early days announcing Venetian masks for sale, we have never quit. Our handmade Venetian masks were of good quality, and in a short time the shopkeepers had bought up all of our supply of traditional Venice masks.

Two years later we had the courage to really take the plunge: to open a Venice mask workshop and devote ourselves to the tasks of making traditional Venetian masks! It was a crazy move, but awareness of the great tradition we had rediscovered made us go all the way.

So in 1986, in time for the Carnival of Venice, we officially opened Ca’ Macana, our very first Venice mask workshop.

Ca’ Macana today

After opening our Venice mask atelier, we stopped selling our traditional Venetian masks to shops and vendors, preferring to offer Venice masks for sale directly to our customers. We have since expanded our operation to include two workshops in the center of historic Venice, and now open our doors to anyone interested in how to make Venetian masks among the general public.

The business has rapidly evolved into other areas of arts and crafts including sculpture, set designs for films, and furniture for fashion boutiques. We have worked on important film productions including “Casanova” by Lasse Hallström and “Eyes Wide Shut” by Stanley Kubrick.

Over the years we have become a focal point in the world of traditional Venetian masks. This is for two main reasons. For one, faithfulness to tradition: we do everything by hand, the way that traditional Venice masks were originally made. Second, we have distinguished ourselves in our commitment to transmitting knowledge about the history and techniques used in making traditional Venetian masks.

Indeed, on top of offering Venetian masks for sale, we routinely hold short lectures as well as theoretical-practical courses introducing people to both our work and the fascinating world of Venetian carnival masks.

The rediscovery of an age-old art form and revitalizing it - turning a playful experiment into a life's work - has been a fantastic adventure. The adventure continues today with genuine passion thanks to a new generation contributing to our Venetian mask workshop.

Indeed, continuing the tradition and teaching the meaning of Venetian masks to new generations gives us a real pride in our work.

If you would like a glimpse into this incredible world of traditional Venetian masks, have a look at the sections on our website on the true meaning of Venetian masks as well as the section on how to make a Venetian mask.

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Dorsoduro 3215 30123 Venezia (Italy)
Email: info@camacana.com
Phone:+39 041 5203229
P.IVA: 02070120270

Every day:
10AM - 8PM (Summer time)
10Am - 6:30PM (Winter time)

We are open during holidays

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