There, Becker learned that masks are a tool for actor training that help one to understand through kinesthetics, the study of the perception, both conscious and unconscious, of one’s own body motions. It was more of an intuitive response to surroundings rather than an intellectual one.
As a teaching artist, he needed these sophisticated tools to teach with, but as a young person, he couldn’t afford them. So, he began making masks himself.
When Becker first began making masks, it was labor intensive, working with water-based clay, petroleum jelly and buckram fabric, he said. As the years went on, he began using neoprene instead, which is how he currently makes his masks.
The liquid was originally a bonding agent for adhesives to help them stick better. Now, it’s made exclusively for artisans like prop, mask and puppet makers.
“The process is, in terms of how materials work, is very simple one. I sculpt it in a water-based clay and then create a plaster mold, a negative, that the clay is pulled out of and then disposed of,” Becker said. “The neoprene, which a liquid, gets poured into the mold and it sits then for, in this case, three hours.”
Then the masks are removed and sit on the curing shelf. Once ready, they’re trimmed, sanded, painted, strapped and padded.
Currently, Becker has masks in about 50 countries, with close to 10,000 masks being shipped out in the last 15 years. He’s worked with all levels of the theater industry, from the top actor training programs of the world to local productions. The client list goes on and on.