During the 15th century, Masquerade balls, allegorical celebrations of Royal events of medieval court life, were the party happenings to attend.
Once they were extended to include the Great Unwashed public as part of the 16th century Italian Renaissance, they featured stylish, elaborate dances meant to fete and celebrate the upper classes in Venice.
But they were also the venue for all manner of intrigue. At one point, as the parties spread throughout Europe, a rogue nobleman, Jacob Johan Anckarström, perhaps emboldened by the anonymity his mask provided, assassinated King Gustav III of Sweden. That killing became the inspiration for Giuseppe Verdi's opera, A Masked Ball.
Masquerade balls evolved to become a bit of a game among their guests aimed at seeing if one could determine the identity of other partygoers.
But sadly, the Masquerade ball likely reached its zenith at Palazzo Labia in Venice, Italy in 1951.
That 1951 party, hosted by wealthy, loony art collector and interior decorator Don Carlos de Beistegui y de Yturbe, was called "The Ball of the Century." And whoever called it that wasn't engaging in hyperbole. No less than Orson Welles, the Aga Khan, Frank Sinatra and doomed socialite Barbara Hutton were shuttled to the happening via gondola – along with more than a thousand other guests and some 300 party-crashers.
Now an artist and entrepreneur, Melissa Ng, has given the tradition of Masquerade an update with her 3D printed masks.
"My 3D printing obsession manifested at the end of 2013," Ng said. "Pair this with a family upbringing steeped in entrepreneurship and you have what you see here."
The masks were 3D printed from the White, Strong, Flexible material by Shapeways, and they were Ng's first 3D models and attempts at 3D printing. The masks are the initial output of Ng's Lumecluster Dreamer/Nightmare Mask Series.
"Inspiration for my work is often drawn from a fascination with dense formations, contours, patterns, textures, and clusters found in nature," Ng says. "Like the world of entrepreneurship, my work is often filled with contrasting elements."
Ng's mask designs won the Adobe and Shapeways Ultimate Design Winner 2014 award and were displayed at the New York City 3D Printshow this year.