My name is Larry Wood, and I've been self-employed as an artist/artisan for most of my adult life. I trained as a painter, sculptor and printmaker and later spent several years as a trader in antiquities and oddities. I evolved into an artisan  of handcrafted custom signs and graphics and practiced that craft for many years until I saw computerized cad/cam machines making it possible for anyone to produce readable (if not always particularly graceful) signage. So I creatively moved on.

I wandered into maskmaking seemingly by accident. My interest in masks developed out of a long-held artistic fascination with the human face and form, especially when disguised, shrouded or seen indirectly. Such images have repeatedly arisen in my artworks. In the mid-80s I created Fantasy Guilde Studios as a means to express similar images, concepts and representations in the medium of leather masks. At first my masks were primarily abstract shapes, which later evolved into fanciful evocations of recognizable images. Simple leaves, moons and goblins were among my earliest figural expressions and remain in my repertoire of designs. Over the years I've been developing more complex designs and elaborate, thematic pieces.  It's always interesting to me to see what arises when next I relax my schedule long enough to play with new ideas.

As a maskmaker I am participating in a journey begun at the dawn of human existence. Like pottery and tool making, maskmaking is possibly one of the most ancient forms of craft known. Some of the oldest artworks still in existence, the cave paintings of southern Europe, show our ancestors in masked imagery. Perhaps this is shamanic, perhaps simply a hunter's camouflage, perhaps some other answer we can not perceive from our modern perspective. Yet these ancient images stand as a testimonial to the masks danced by our forefathers. Since this prehistoric start, nearly every culture has at some time in it's history utilized masks in ritual or social form. In spiritual and religious ceremony they evoke the gods, spirits and elements.  In theatre they convey a symbolic imagery unsatisfied by other means.  In revelry they bestow upon the wearer the permission to reveal some hidden facet of their personality.  And as objects they silently speak across these portals to otherness.

While it is true that the source for any aesthetic image may be found in the collective, primal mythos of our species, or in the iconography of our diverse cultural array, my creations are artistic objects only. I humbly make no claim for any magical, mystical or spiritual properties in my work, regardless of their final use or intent of purpose. Despite saying this, masks remain magic.

I truly like what I do for a living. During certain times of the year I work extremely hard at it.  Especially during the Maryland Renaissance Festival I often work 60-70 hours a week in production in addition to 20+ hours on the weekend selling my work and attending my booth.  For 26 years every mask was solely my creation. Since the beginning of 2011 I have gratefully taken on studio assistants to help fold and shape the smaller to medium masks, under my supervision. Vicki Parks (seen at right) is currently working with me regularly. Designing, cutting and painting/finishing remain as steps still done solely by myself on every mask, as well as final adjustments. I hope you enjoy viewing my work as much as I enjoy creating it for your pleasure.  

*Cropped photo by George Skepton 2011

I was pleased and honored to be mentioned in the December 1999 issue of The Crafts Report. Click HERE to view a composite image from that magazine.

I also wish to acknowledge and thank:
Frederick Magazine for featuring me in their October 2001 issue
Washington Woman for their article on my work, also for October 2001
Renaissance Magazine for selecting my Celtic Greenman mask as a 'treasure'
in their Summer 2001 issue.

Please feel free to Email Fantasy Guilde Studios concerning me, my work, the care of your purchases, custom designs, new orders, unsolicited praise or the content of this site. I can also be reached via the ancient process of writing, and mailing it to:

Larry Wood
Fantasy Guilde Studios
PO Box 127
Crownsville, MD 21032-0127

(During certain times of the year, expect a delay in response!)

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