Romanian artisan Vasilache Pavel is bringing back the horror of Middle-Ages’ ‘Black Death’ by handcrafting these creepy-ass leather masks.
For those who don’t know, in the 14th century Europe, there was this epidemic – the so-called plague (or bubonic plague). The “plague doctors” who were daring to treat the diseased had to wear these scary beaked masks, which supposedly protected them from getting sick by not breathing the “death air” or the “miasma”.
Even though they’re supposed to protect you and not to creep you out, these masks’ design make them suitable enough for rich people’s orgies or any horror movie, at any time. The 26 years old Bucharest-based craftsman created his own series of plague doctor masks from scratch (7 unique pieces so far), by using fine leather material and inventive self-thought designs. You know, for an eventual apocalypse. Some of his masks don’t even fit in the “plague” category per se, but more in a “mechanic-post-apocalyptic” one. Features from the iconic Anonymous riots’ gas masks or an arid-Mad-Max kind of environment are also all over the place.
This is how the masks are made: “I have this mannequin head, and I’m thinking what else could I invent. Then there’s the trial, followed by error. I cut, I verify, I correct. Until I’m finally satisfied”.
“My father’s been working with leather for many years”, Pavel told us. “He’s been crafting bags, belts, accessories. Pretty much anything but clothes or shoes. I was working with him during summers when I was a kid, for some extra cash, and I liked it. I got used with the leather. Recently I started to create masks. There’re these two guys who really impressed me and I want to get better than them ‘til I’m dead.”
He also explained for Cultartes: “I’m planning to give up on everything and do this all full-time. But for that you need a plan that could get you some income. Honestly, I don’t think there’s market in Romania for this, so I’m thinking about going where this kind of work’s appreciated.”
Some of the Pavel’s masks will be also featured in an ethereal photo-series created by photographer Anca Mitroi. The exhibition will be seen for the first time this August.