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Topic: Need help with Alice in Wonderland Play Costumes: Cheshire Cat Mask  (Read 16716 times)
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Jinjeet Phoenix
« on: March 20, 2009 01:14:11 AM »

I am helping out again this year in sewing the costumes for the annual "Children's Day" play.  This year we are doing Alice in Wonderland, Disney style.  As opposed to what I've done in the past, this year I've been asked (By my best friend at that) to make up a few costumes.  I've gotten great help with the flower people...done the sunflower.  I'll post when I can get someone to put the thing on.  I've decided on: sunflower-done, pansy, rose and calia lily which I'm now working on.
My biggest challenge will be the Cheshire cat mask.  Here is where I'll need the most help.  Please.
Anyone got any ideas on how I can go about it?  I need it to be 3D cause they will be seen from all directions. My BF sent me a picture for an idea.

(Hope I did that right).
Can anyone please help me on this?  I was thinking of making a pillow type thing and just reinforce it somehow.  Also,  they need to wear a microphone "glued" to their face.
Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2009 03:16:19 AM »

what about papier mache. You could make a full head mask by building up the layers over a ball of scrunched up newspaper (wrapped with masking tape) once its dry the ball of newspaper can be removed by pulling it out of the neck hole.
Something similar could be done for a half face mask too. The mic could be taped to the face and then the mask worn on top.

You can give the papier mache a layer of plaster to make a very smooth base for painting, or just paint as is, you can hot glue whiskers etc to the papier mache

I actually think the one in the picture is too two dimensional, the smile is completely flat.

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Jinjeet Phoenix
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2009 10:32:49 PM »

edelC,  Thank you so much for your input.  I've never done paper mache so I'm kind of hesitant to try something like that for something that will be "public" in a play even though it is totally amateur.  I was thinking of trying to sew the thing.  I just don't know how to get the "curve" effect. I've already got the hot pink furry fabric (an old robe) for the body.
Won't the "mask" get glued to the wrapped newspaper ball?  (I should have paid more attention in kindergarten.lol)  Always willing to learn.
Thank you again.
Jinjeet Phoenix
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2009 01:41:41 AM »

Does anyone have any ideas to help me out here please?  I'm not really a good seamstress so this is really going to be a challenge.  I'd really appreciate it.
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2009 09:04:02 AM »

The masking tape keeps the newspaper from getting stuck (the plastic-y packing tape works well, too).  I have to admit, just from the actor's perspective, I'd rather be in a paier mache mask, than a fabric one, simply for comfort reasons.  However, if you'd like to make a fabric mask, I'd make a foam and wire base to attach the fabric to, rather than attempting to stitch it, especially if you're not a skilled seamstress.  Fabric glue is going to be way easier for you!  I have never made a full-head mask, but this is what I'd do (as a complete and utter novice!)

1.  Start with a foam collar that fits over the head completely, and rests on the shoulders comfortably.

2.  Use sturdy wire to create a caged helmet, space-man style, leaving openings for the eyes.  Leave plenty of room for the person's head.

3.  Use papier mache techniques to wrap the cage with a couple of layers (for sturdiness sake)--doesn't have to be pretty.  Either leave the eyes and nose (and any other openings you need) open, or be prepared to cut that part away after it's dried, whichever's easier.

4.  Use crumpled newspapers, tissue paper, masking tape, and glue to sculpt the face (alternatively, shaped foam)  You can make a clay/paste out of tissue paper scraps, water, and glue that'll be easy enough to work with for detailed bits.

5.  Papier mache over that, smoothing edges and corners with aforementioned tissue-glue paste.  To be nice about it, use strips of tissue paper for your last two or three layers, which gives you a rather pretty finish.

5a.  The eye holes/nose/mouth/whatever need to be finished at some point around this step.  If you left them open before, awesome!  If not, cut them out, file the edges, and seal with some glue.  You can cover these with that black mesh that you can see through.

6.  Glue my fabric in place.  If it's not all fun fur, I'd paint some areas, and use fabric in others, only because you'll end up with ripples and puckers.  Easy to hide in fun fur.  Not so much in, say, felt.  Terry cloth wouldn't be so bad, though.

7.  Air out thoroughly, so actor doesn't get high off glue fumes.

Utterly amateur-hour, but hey, it'd probably get done in a weekend, and not look half bad.  If you're intent on sewing, I'd still start with a wire armature so the actor doesn't get smothered, but then sew your mask pillow style, and use batting to fill in.  For a novice, though, the papier mache would be easier, IMHO.

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Jinjeet Phoenix
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2009 09:59:30 AM »

Aislynn, you are a genius, thank you!!!  Yes, even though I've been volunteering for this for the past 4 years, I'm pretty much a novice at it.  My BFF usually just brings me the things to sew, showing me where, and I do the sewing.  She has her own ideas on how to put the costumes together that I can't make heads or tails of so I just "do as I'm told".lol.  Makes for a great working team.
You've given me a great "work sheet".  Absolutely brilliant and I thank you.  And, of course, I'll try to post pictures.  I've already finished the sunflower costume.  I just need a "model".
Thank you again!!!
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2009 11:17:19 AM »

No worries!  Sewing costumes is worlds away from making character masks.  I hope you have fun with it!

Sewers are for ninja turtles--seamstresses are for sewing Wink

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Jinjeet Phoenix
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2009 12:38:56 PM »

Thank you so much.  I really need to bring down the stress level some.  It's only getting in the way.
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