I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Did the emails get lost? Did they ignore them thinking I was some sort of scammer? Did they just not want to deal with sending something to the US? Were they being too protective of their art form and felt it was made by Austrians to be used just by Austrians? Something else entirely? Luckily, I have relatives in Austria. I contacted my cousin and asked him to help me out. He emailed my first choice mask maker (of the 4) and got a response right away. :) He basically explained to the maker that I was of Austrian decent, and mentioned the town where I was from (I moved to the US from Austria when I was about 2 years old or so – my entire family on my father’s side still lives in Austria), and explained that I would be wearing the mask to the largest Sci-Fi convention in the world (and would take pictures), and that Atlanta has several Krampus events and I would be wearing the mask to those events. So, something in there caught the maker’s attention and he emailed back.

We went back and forth several times. I picked a mask, he said it was too big to ship, I picked another on and he said it was already sold, etc, etc. until I finally found a mask that I liked and he was able to ship. It is worth noting that he had both new and “used” (or perhaps they were unsold from the previous season?) masks. Unfortunately for my wallet, the one that we finally agreed upon was a new mask (the initial one I wanted was used and a good bit cheaper, but it was not shippable due to its size :( ).

The cost was 630 Euros (about $685 USD) – quite expensive, but it is handmade, hand-carved wood and paint with horns and fur. You simply can’t get them anywhere else, and it is a genuine piece of Austrian folk art purchased from the artist himself. Yes, it is a costume, but it is much more as well. And, I had plans. Ever since I saw my first Perchtenlauf in 2008 (I couldn’t believe I had never seen nor heard of Krampus before from my family, and I even lived in Austria as an early teenager in 1982-1983 – the perfect age for getting into the Krampus festivities)I was hooked! It was so much fun and the legend was so fascinating to me! This was unlike anything in the USA at all. The closest thing was Halloween. These demons were running around making tons of noise, whipping people, causing havoc, and posing for photo ops. It was such a blast! I thought, I HAVE to find a way to bring this tradition to the US! So, I’ve been putting aside money for a quite a while for this purpose and I have enough saved to pay for the mask. VAT and shipping I will have to pay out of pocket.

So that is my next step, finding out how to ship this thing. My worry was that because this has horns (which I later found out were synthetic and not real) and real goat fur, it might cost a bunch of money in import duties and fees. Thus begins the next part of the story, navigating my way through customs and shipping and duties and taxes across 2 countries.

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