(Photo instructions below)
These are the steps common to all the techniques. Use links to instructions and resources on other pages for additional parts of the process.
Before you begin, here are some tips:
Keep going until it is looking back at you.
No monsters, symbols, geometrical designs.
There are so many extreme HUMAN characters to choose from.
Strive for maximum emotional effect.
Use mirrors to see facial expression.
Because there are several ways to create a mask, we provide a few descriptions for different materials:
Moulding the Clay/Plastercene
Clay can be easier to work with than plastercene but it needs re-hydrating.
Best to buy cheaper poor quality clay from a ceramics distributor.
Raise up plaster cast with clay and/or a block of wood.
Add thin layer of Vaseline to cast.
Enjoy the feel of the clay.
Work quickly and instinctively.
Make big features, avoid symmetry .
Leave plenty of space for your eyes.
Connect to face gradually or on existing facial lines.
Smooth very well. (a bit of water at the end may help)
Expression can be torqued/adjusted when moulding is complete.
Don’t forget release agent or barrier before next steps (mache, etc.)
Create mask while clay is still soft so that it is easier to remove or dig out.
Painting the mask
Here is a rough guideline for mixing flesh tone:
- 1 part green
- 2 parts yellow
- 4 parts red
- 8 parts brown
- 10 parts white
Experiment with more or less of each to get the color you like.
Use darker or lighter versions of this to make highlights and shadows.
Look in a mirror to see what kind of coloration we have on our faces.
Use a sponge or finger to blend. Avoid harsh lines.
Try stippling with a thick round brush rather than painting strokes.
Work dry when possible.
Try the technique of mixing the colours on the mask!
Finishing the mask
Now is the time to cut eye and nose holes, insert eyes and glue in teeth.
If ping pong balls are used, burn/melt the holes as the plastic is difficult to cut. (see photo)
Put black mesh screen behind eye and nose holes to block light.
Glue on eyebrows and moustache hair if desired.
Attach black elastic head band of at least 1cm thick. Sew on one side and leave the other end adjustable to head sizes. Close with an adjustable clasp or safety pin. Or use two pieces of elastic and connect in the middle with an adjustable clip. (see gallery photos)
It is possible to seal mask with clear varnish. Be sure it is non toxic. Polyurethane based clear sealer is good.
I have found this to be a way that anyone can learn. I have made masks with children’s groups this way. The important part is that they mould the face fairly quickly without censoring themselves. They should attempt to make it human with recognisable features that match up with our features, (especially the eyes). The mask should have great emotion. Use mirrors as reference to how faces look with strong expressions. *students usually want to begin by making monsters or pieces of art, but this is just a defence to not express something genuine about themselves. The more human a mask looks the more it can take on a personality that we recognize and can develop.