Work on the unfinished Troll Screamers shown above as well as several NEW Troll Screamers will resume soon. I have several body parts ready to go for the new creations.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Ever wanted to make masks but just can't wrap your head around how to start one? Don't worry it's something a LOT of people can't grasp straight away. Not everyone knows how to do everything. The truth is you don't have to learn how to either. Yet you can STILL make fantastic customised masks that will have your freinds shocked & envious too lol. I will show you how in a few seconds but first there is something i need to explain.

I will show you how to copy & modify commercially purchased masks. Now because of copyright laws which are rightfully in place. You CAN'T just go around copying someones else's work & expect to make money out of it. I totally agree with that principle & at NO time will i ask or tell anyone to do that. NO, what i am going to show you is HOW to get around the not being able to start a mask & then create something new. Here's how.

Take any commercially purchased mask that you like the look of. By that i mean the overall shape of the mask. Since you are going to totally change the outward features you ONLY need look for masks with STRONG overall shape. Bold cheek bones, forehead, chin etc. Below is a mask i found. To look at it's more like a derranged gorilla than a demon skull which i think it's meant to be. Anyway. It has the strong features such as i just mentioned that will be perfect for this feature to show you what to do.

Now because we want to change the 'final features' of the mask design so it both no longer looks like the original & is your own creation so it does not break any copyright laws. We need to copy the mask in such a way that the copy will allow us to make the changes to it.

So with this in mind copying the front or the face of this mask is no good to us. We need to copy the INSIDE of the mask. This will give us enough of a good representation of the face 'shape' of the mask to work with later. As you can see most 'press mold' masks such as this one have as many details inside as they do outside which is perfect for what i am about to show you.

Now there are two ways we can do this. One is faster than the other. Both are as good as each other. I have used both methods to show you the results, they being: Paper strips & paper pulp copying. I prefer the paper strips. Why? I can copy this mask using paper strips using only four layers of paper & make between four to six masks a day. Doing it the paper pulp way took three days for the pulp to dry enough to remove the pulp copy from the original & then it took a lot of the original silver paint off with it. Don't worry if YOU have the same thing happen. It makes NO difference if the paint stays on the original mask or not. The plastic mask under the paint is perfectly smooth anyway which is what we used it for in the first place.

So working with 'any' white glue (PVA based for speed - faster drying) cut or tear up some none glossy news print strips of paper around two inches long by one inch wide. Plastic even painted plastic such as my example mask here WILL allow you to glue the paper DIRECTLY onto the plastic inside the mask WITHOUT ANY releasing agent at all. The ONLY thing you need do is water down the first coating of white glue, around a 50% by 50% water to glue will be fine.

Brush the glue directly into the mask. Dip the strips, which ever way works for YOU is all that matters. Remember to really work the strips INTO all the little nooks & crannies using a short haired but stiff bristled brush. Around four layers is more than sufficient since we will be building up the face features the masks WILL become much stronger before it's even finished. So don't worry trust me here. Below are copies i made using both the paper strip & the paper pulp methods. The paper pulp is the same one i showed you how to make i an earlier feature.

First the paper strip version. The paper strip version WILL 'curl' in at the sides. This is because it's so thin. Don't worry about it. Once you start to build the new features onto it you can simply either push it onto the face of the original whilst it dries after you make another copy inside. Or you can blow up a balloon or wedge something else inside until it dries to force it back into shape.

Now the paper pulp version. Notice the silvery sections on the pulp version? That's where the silver paint from the mask peeled off. Just ignore it though it will be both burried in the NEW mask you make & will not hamper the copying of more from the original in any way. It just looks terrible on the copies at first sight.

Now once you have the copies you want to work with we need to start changing that face so it both no longer looks like the original & becomes YOUR creation totally. Now again as with the copying there are a couple of ways you can do this. Since we want to build up the final features to make NEW plaster cast copies from, choose materials that you know how to work with. Are comfortable working with, but are the fastest methods. I pressume you will be wanting to make some masks for halloween even.

You can use ANY method & material you like at this stage. Clay, paper clay, polymer clay, paper strips, foil covered in paper strips etc. For ME it's a case of cost over materials. So with this is mind i am going to be using a simple child safe plasticine (Polymer clay substitute) each small packet only cost me 40p (Pence UK Sterling) some where around 60/70 Cents American or there abouts. Plasticine can be made at home easily too since it's only standard potters clay (right out the ground) mixed with oil (clean engine oil works) boiled together with colours added.

Plasticine the penny poor artists answer to Polymer clay.

Now straight away we have problems that need to be over come. Because of the oils used in it's manufacture, plasticine IS intended NOT to dry out so easily. I don't know why perhaps so it lasts longer if children don't put it away when they have finished playing with it. Or so they can play with it longer & not dry out when exposed to the air for long periods. Anyway THAT is a problem to US when we want to copy our NEW masks in plaster. Unlike all the previous material such as clay or polymer clay i mentioned we CAN'T simply oven dry it. I have tried this with both Play Doh & Plasticine. Both dry out too quickly, bloat & crack like crazy.

So HOW do we make plasticine hard enough to be able to plaster cast from it then? Very, very simply. Once you have your final design using plasticine as the sculpting material. You simply brush it over one or two times using PURE UNDILUTED white glue. Let it dry. The latex based white glue will create a thin shell over the plasticine that will be strong enough to allow us to make one or more plaster copies easily. Simple huh?

Here is one of my finished masks using ONLY plasticine to create the NEW features. This mask IS NOW ready to be plaster cast.

Here it is next to the original plastic copy. Much MORE demon skull-like & less gorilla-like.

Here is another i am currently working on. For this one i built up the heavier facial features using foil which i shaped then locked in place using paper strips. I will NOW create the finer facial features i want using plasticine again. I will show & explain how i do this as i go with this mask.

Again next to the original plastic mask.

Now i will begin to build up the teeth for my new mask with plasticine.

Because the plasticine i buy comes in these pre-made wonderful easy tear apart strips i can tear off two joined strips & make perfect split teeth once i cut it to the right lengths.

Now plasticine by it's very nature 'won't' stick to the paper strips. So it requires a little bit of help in that department. So i simply brushed on some un-diliuted glue. Then gently pressed on the plasticine shaping it as i did so.

Coming up in part two: More of this mask & some of the others i am working on at the same time. Also (hopefully) plaster casting these masks. Yes i am covering plaster casting with my dolphin which is part of a bigger project. How ever these masks because of theyre shapes will HAVE to be cast in a slightly different way. Unfortunately you CAN'T plaster cast around curved surfaces like yo can with latex molding methods. So stay tuned. I am busy but WILL get back to this as soon as i can. Until then happy mask making.

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