Mardi Gras Revelers Love This Waterville Artist’s Magnificent Masks

Perfect for Carnival season, Alexis Burbank’s masquerade art showcases her fascination with the fantastical.

Alexis Burbank modeling one of her dragonfly masks
Photo courtesy of Alexis Burbank
By Arielle Greenberg
From our February 2023 issue

Growing up in Jay, Alexis Burbank lived across the street from artist Sandra Stanton, a painter inspired by classical mythology. Their visits and lessons together instilled in Burbank not only a love of art but also of folklore. When she was 10, she came up with the word “faylander” to describe those who walk between the human and fairy worlds — something she imagined she could do. Twenty years later, Burbank exists in the human world, mostly, but she indulges her passions for fantasy and Druidic traditions by creating elaborate costume masks inspired by nature and fairy tales. Masks from Burbank’s Faylander Studios might resemble a dragon with outstretched wings, an ancient Egyptian cat goddess, or a hyper-detailed blue dragonfly. They are, she says, “a reminder that life is full of enchantment.” She started to explore mask making as an art student at the University of Maine at Machias, and after graduating, in 2014, she started working in leather. In the years since, she’s refined her process: First, Burbank engraves fine details into her masks with a swivel knife, stylus, or metal stamps. Next, she molds them by heating and hand-shaping the pliable leather, then paints them with acrylics and metallic pigments before finally sealing them with varnish.

Photos courtesy of Alexis Burbank

At last count, she’s made nearly 300 for clients around the world: masks for weddings and spiritual ceremonies, for costume parties and sci-fi conventions. Every year, she gets commissions for purple, green, and gold masks to wear at Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, and last year, the organizer of that city’s Mardi Gras Mask Market invited her to sell her work there. “A generation of mask makers in New Orleans has died out, and they’re looking for people with this passion,” Burbank says. “Masks help us tell stories, a fundamental human desire. We need masks to bring stories to life.”

Burbank mostly sells her masks on Etsy, for $120–$175. Custom work starts at $175. She also sells greeting cards, calendars, and stickers featuring her original illustrations.


Down East magazine, February 2023