Masks, Jim, but not as we know them: saddlers branch out into fantastic creations

  • Lots of people have been getting creative with mask-making over the past year — but none more so than members of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS).

    As the society’s national competition has been moved to September, committee member and master saddler Karen Schlotter came up with a new idea.

    Members were asked to design and make a mask such as a carnival, masquerade or fancy dress wear, or an animal’s face, to be worn with a strap or mounted on a handle. Entries had to be made mainly of leather, but with “embellishments”. The aim was to show off the “many and varied skills of those in the saddlery trade”.

    The Green Man

    SMS chief executive Hazel Morley said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to those who entered and gave us a really interesting competition.

    “All entrants really pushed the boat out and I was blown away by their imagination and ingenuity.”

    The masks were judged first by SMS master saddler judges Mark Romain, Catherine Baker and Ms Schlotter, then went to a vote on Facebook. The results together gave the final outcome.

    Jeff Barry won the open class with his “green man” creation.

    He said: “The standard in the classes was superb. I was delighted to win the open class and it made all the effort so worthwhile.

    “As it has been a bit quieter with the pandemic I decided to enter the competition and I made the mask on and off over a month.  I saw an image of the Green Man and thought it would make a brilliant entry; I’m so pleased I did.”


    Lucy Cushley finished second in the apprentices, trainee and intermediate members’ class with an entry titled Cernunnos, lord of wild things.

    “The competition was just fantastic,” she said. “I was so pleased I decided to enter and the mask actually took me a whole week of 14-hour days.

    “I just couldn’t stop making it.  I found a picture in a book on ancient Celtic gods and that is where my inspiration came from, even if the end result didn’t turn out like the original image.”

    The Saddlers’ Company donated the prizes, of £150, £100 and £50 in each category.

    Continues below…

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    Full results:

    Capel Manor students’ class

    1st Regina Mitchell – Egyptian

    2nd Claire Davenport – Roman centurion

    3rd Hattie Crabtree – Light blue mask with feathers

    Highly commended was awarded to Charley Sheppard for a Samurai mask

    Apprentices, trainee and intermediate members’ class

    1st Zoe Hurst – Lion

    2nd Lucy Cushley – Cernunnos, lord of wild things

    3rd Hannah O’Neill – Carved mask

    Highly commended was awarded to Gabrielle Mitchley for a Dragon mask

    Open class

    1st Jeff Barry – Green man

    2nd Coralie Chung – Chinese new year dragon

    3rd Line Hansen – Silver face and feathers

    Highly commended was awarded to Corrin King for her mask of thoughts

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