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Mardi Gras Masterpieces: How to make a mask 

DIY decorating tips for carnival season

click to enlarge Create festive centerpieces by adding Mardi Gras beads and holiday lights to a floral arrangement. - PHOTO COURTESY CHET POURCIAU

In New Orleans, we welcome any opportunity to celebrate, decorate and put our homes on display. Carnival is here, so it's time to show off the season's traditional colors of purple, green and gold, which symbolize justice, faith and power, respectively and were designated in 1872 by Rex, king of Carnival.

  When decorating, adjust the hues to fit your style. I recommend shades that are more subtle and subdued to give your Mardi Gras decor a personality that's all its own.

  Sometimes, an eye-catching centerpiece is all it takes to change the mood. To create unique centerpieces that celebrate the season, incorporate beads, feathers and old masks into basic greenery. Any floral arrangement in your home can be enhanced with a few well-placed Carnival trinkets.

  Lighting is one of a home's most important and dramatic aspects. It's also one of the easiest ways to change the atmosphere. Replace your floodlights with colored lights in purple, yellow and green. Also, before you put away the Christmas lights for the year, create another Mardi Gras centerpiece by placing them inside colored glass vases and topping them off with flowers.

  Carnival also is the perfect opportunity to put do-it-yourself (DIY) skills to the test. In addition to crafting beautiful home accessories, try your hand at a custom, DIY leather mask that's sure to turn heads at any ball or parade.

A handcrafted, diy leather mask brings
a custom touch to a wreath or costume. - PHOTO COURTESY CHET POURCIAU

DIY Leather Mask

• Scrap paper

• Tracing paper/film

• A pencil

• A piece of 6 oz. leather

• A bowl of water

• An x-acto knife or leather scissors

• Acrylic paint

• Polyacrylic spray

1.) Sketch the mask on a piece of scrap paper.

2.) Trace one side of the sketch on tracing paper or film. Fold the paper in half and copy what you just traced on the blank half of the paper. This ensures a symmetrical mask.

3.) Transfer the mask stencil onto a piece of 6 oz. leather. Look for leather dealers locally or buy online for a deal.

4.) Use an X-Acto knife or leather scissors to carefully cut out the mask.

5.) Soak the mask in water for 1-2 minutes until you can easily mold it. Hold it up to your face for a perfect fit. Allow the mask to dry overnight.

6.) Paint the mask with acrylic paints and decorate it with feathers and jewels. Spray it with a polyacrylic spray to preserve your piece of wearable art.

Chet Pourciau is a designer in New Orleans. He hosts WLAE's Chet Chat every third Wednesday at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. He is the resident designer for WVUE Fox 8. Pourciau is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and donates his talents to numerous nonprofit organizations throughout the New Orleans area. For more information, visit


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