Fastnacht (6) - The Mask Sculptor

Witches, wild men, demons, fantastic animals and other funny characters who stroll along the Fasnacht in the streets of Baden, bear the signature of Wolfgang Ducksch, mask sculptor.

Latest edition : 08 February 2018

For more than 30 years, he has brought emblematic characters of the Alemannic carnival to life. In his small workshop in Oberkirch, carnival lovers from Baden-Württemberg and also Alsace come to order their precious masks.

While he has always carved carnival masks, the master craftsman specializes in copying and restoring ancient statues. But for several years, orders for statues have become rarer. "And nobody wants Christmas cribs anymore", regrets the sculptor.

In his shop, demons rub shoulders with saints, smiling faces of the mouths of animals.

“The faces are fascinating, those of the characters as well as those of the animals. Each mask tells a story, a legend that led to the creation of an association. Look at these little bricks on the cheeks: they bear witness to the past of a man who worked in a brickyard. "

The heads of demons date back to a Germanic custom when hunting in the winter. "The wicked masks symbolize winter, the smiling ones symbolize spring, the dream. "

Wolfgang Ducksch does more than faithfully reproduce traditional masks where the smallest detail is important.
He offers new ones for carnival groups that are forming. To find his ideas, his senses are always on the lookout. By talking to future revelers, the idea takes shape.
Sketches on paper, then a prototype in plasticine.

When the sculptor and clients are satisfied with the imaginary face, Wolfgang can finally get to work. In a linden block, his wooden knives first cut the nose before continuing to dig and reveal a wart, wrinkles ...

“The linden wood of the region is perfect, it is soft, with very little pattern. For large masks, however, I use American Weymouth pine. "
It takes many years of training and practice to bring about these faces that are so expressive you'd think they were alive.