Talking Shop

Tiffany Smyth hangs with belly dancers, fire performers, the Ren Fest crowd and the tribal psychedelic rock band Kan’nal, but first and foremost, she’s a mask-maker of enormous talent, working in leather, beads and feathers to create art nouveau-inspired organic disguises unlike anything you’ve ever seen. She owes some of her creative bent to her equally creative mother, Lynn Smyth Burtle, a master stained glass artist who now works alongside Smyth in the Antique Row mask shop ArtsMyths Gallery, 1454 South Broadway, where Smyth moved late last year from a cramped second-floor studio on Santa Fe Drive. This is her first Halloween on the street, a boon for South Broadway foot traffic and anyone seeking a last-minute costume that will last for years and could easily double as a beautiful heirloom.

The masks were a by-product of Smyth’s past collaborations with fire-dancing troupes, who came to her with some papîer-maché masks they’de been using. “I looked at them and I thought, ‘Papîer-maché and fire?’” Her no-brainer solution blossomed into a growing concern: Smyth now regularly provides costuming, masks and props for under- and above-ground groups as diverse as Kan’nal, the Handsome Little Devils, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Kevin Larson’s Theatre du Vaudeville and the Kaivalya Hoop Dancers. “I like being challenged by people asking for weird stuff,” she notes with a shrug. Weird? Maybe. But gorgeous would be the better word: Her masks and accoutrements, which range in price from $20 for a pair of lifelike elf ears up to $250 for an elegant Las Vegas-worthy headdress, include everything from shimmering bumblebees and spooky black-light skulls and dragons haloed with flames to amazing animal faces with fake-fur hoods or curling leather eyelashes to a splendid canopy of green striped feathers curving around a golden cap hung with la-ser-cut disks on beaded chains. And Smyth calls them “the most comfortable masks you’ve ever worn”: They’re flexible, durable and lightweight, and they absorb sweat for slime-free, face-molding wearability.

Drop by ArtsMyths from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; in addition to masks, Smyth also offers sexy leather corsets, gauntlets and cuffs, coordinating costume-ready clothing in recycled silk, burnout velvet and other sensuous fabrics, as well as feathered barrettes and hair picks. For more information, visit http://artsmyths.com or call 720-989-7232.
Oct. 27-Dec. 31, 2008

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