Sandy Bouleau began making hand-crafted leather masks about three years ago as a hobby, now she is a featured artist at the Rollin Art Centre.
After taking only one three-hour workshop with a mask artist from Vesta Entertainment in Nanaimo, Bouleau was hooked on the artwork.
“I’ve always been kind of crafty and over the years I’ve done needle point and cross stitch and crochet and knitting, anything you can imagine, but when I hit this genre it grabbed me and I just love playing with it,” Bouleau said.
Bouleau cuts out patterns – everything from birds to sea creatures to steampunk themes – from the leather, soaks it in a glue and water mixture, molds it into a shape and after the leather hardens she paints the mask.
“It’s not hard, it’s not technically difficult at all so it’s instant gratification,” Bouleau said.
With no formal background in art Bouleau says she identifies as more of a musician. She played piano since she was nine years old and she is really involved in the Valley’s theatre scene.
Finding inspiration for her designs in almost anything, Bouleau said a texture, colour or just something a friend said can spark an idea for her next mask.
“I just want people to enjoy them,” Bouleau said about her masks. “If people can wear them…awesome.”
In addition to being on display at the Rollin Art Centre until May 27 along with artists Linda Ross and Nona Hawley, Bouleau will be selling her intricate masks at the Solstice Arts Festival on June 17-18.