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Topic: tips on how to make a mask  (Read 2125 times)
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the mediocre gatsby
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« on: January 23, 2009 09:41:12 AM »


i am rather new to crafting, but very excited to jump in. at the moment, i need some pointers on how to make a mask.

i'm attempting to recreate romeo's mask from the 1968 zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet. (unfortunately, i cannot find a good picture  Undecided) if anyone has any tips on how to make a mask to fit your face or various other helpful hints, they are greatly appreciated.
grace*l ossein
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2009 06:10:41 AM »

Hi and welcome to Crackster!

I can't remember the Zeffirelli mask, so I'm kind of at a loss for what to suggest...

What material would you like to make the mask out of?
Would you like it to be decorative or wearable (and if wearable, how often and where - meaning, how sturdy/waterproof/comfortable, etc?)

Laminated paper is a great starter method for getting into maskmaking, cheap too! I use brown paper shopping bags and good old Elmer's. Here's a link with some good info - scroll down to where it says 'Papier-Mache' http://www.squidoo.com/maskmaking#module1460028 - this is basically the method I'm referring too, though when I do it I use my fingers and apply straight glue (not the 50/50 glue/water) to the paper and smooth it in place.
This method also assumes you have a form to work from - you can also start with a band around your head, with crossing strips to form a crown, and strips glued end to end coming down across your face to start building up the front.

grrr - sorry I can't 'splain better - I just moved and can't take pix or scans to make this more coherent! I'm happy to walk you thru some tips if you want, feel free to PM me - I've made dozens and dozens of masks this way (and it just occurs to me I never posted any here...) and it's a great method.

BTW - the above link mentions 2 books that I consider my BIBLES! It's the first two on her list:

The Prop Builders Mask-Making Handbook by Thurston James
Maskmaking by Carole Silven

The James book can be hard to find (and pricey!), but I just peeked at Amazon and they have lots of copies of Carole's book used from about 4 bucks!!! Do yourself a HUGE happy service and pick up a copy, I go back to it every time I feel 'dry' in inspiration, and it's a great jumping-off point.

i'm going straight to hell
ain't nothing slowing me down
i'm going straight to hell,
so you just better get me one more round!

« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2009 05:26:00 AM »

As mentioned before... paper mache~ so versatile and easy to use. Another (more difficult) method is with plaster gauze bandages, just moisten and apply to your face. Let dry. After that you can cut, sand, paint it .etc. and I suggest Vaseline... lots and lots of Vaseline applied to your face BEFORE the gauze. Aaaand... yeah, that was it CX But here is a picture I found of Romeo's mask, hope it helps! 

« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009 09:09:53 PM »

paper mache~ so versatile and easy to use. Another (more difficult) method is with plaster gauze bandages

I respectfully disagree, I think plaster gauze is far easier to work with than traditional paper mache. Yes, it works up a little differently & takes a little practice, but so does well made paper mache. I made plaster casts of fruits before I tried a persons face Smiley (apples & navel oranges)

The advantages of plaster gauze over paper mache:

- the fabric base makes even large pieces very smooth because it flexes & stretches instead of having to be cut/ torn & layered.
- the chemical process involved with the plaster results in temperature changes, you know for sure that it's set by this.
- the cotton fibers running throughout make it more structurally sound, if you drop it or sit on it it'll crack but not come apart completely (this means it can be repaired with minimal build up as well)
- because it's plaster it can tolerate a bit more moisture (sweat) than paper mache. Although, if you plan to really wear it, either type will last longer if you varnish (not just any old paint but varnish specifically) the inside.
- being able to smooth the plaster itself can result in stone or ceramic like finished appearance.

Disadvantages of plaster gauze:
- it costs more than paper mache.
- you really can't do it on your own face. The model needs to be laying down comfortably on their back for the duration to not get odd straining shaqpes in the final product or drooping of unset strips.
- if the model isn't aware of the temperature changes involved in plaster work, they can freak out. It's cold when you first get it wet and it heats up as it hardens. It does not get hot enough to burn, but it is quite warm, like the hottest shower you can stand in.
- like paper mache, vaseline or other greasy substance needs to be on the surface being cast, whether it's a face, a hand or an orange. Facial or other body hair is best covered with plastic (food type) wrap as well as the hair on the top of ones head. Be careful! do not suffocate your friends for arts sake!
- it's a bit more difficult to clean up off of ones body, especially if you get the plaster in hair. (I knew a guy who lost big chunks of chest hair because he used vaseline instead of plastic wrap).

Good Luck!
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009 02:58:22 AM »

Well, I concede my opinion of plaster gauzing was based on one (very trying) experience that I don't care to repeat anytime soon. In any case, for someone new to crafting I think molding the paper mache might be easier plus the supplies are more readily available at home. As for sweating, the Romeo mask doesn't seem to be shaped to the face but curves out with only the edges resting on the face so maybe it'll be okay (?!)

« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009 07:00:41 AM »

The Romeo mask was probably made on a clay form, possibly of paper mache or plaster gauze & then gessoed & painted. Plain ol' kids modeling clay works great for this (you know, the $1 store for kids to play with type clay, but not Play Doh). Cheesy
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