Looking over my photos on my Facebook page I realized I had wanted to do a post about making lips for my masks but forgot! So here goes!
The snaky looking thing in the long moldbox on the right hand side of this pic is my first attempt at a lip for my resin wolf head. I sculpted it pretty straight because that's how I had seen other lips sculpted online. Silly me.
Above, trying to fit a silicone cast of this straight lip on my mask. You can see how it gaps underneath, between the lower edge of the lip and the jaw. No good.
Above, trying to glue the new lip on. I think that pile of clamps might be trying to tell me something....
Making a pattern for a more fitted lip. The green thing above is Frog Tape stuck to aluminum foil. I pressed a piece around the lower jaw, sketched the shape of the lip on it, and cut it out. I then made it symmetrical by folding it in half in the middle and trimming it so the two sides would match. Then I tried out the new shape back on the head (above), trimming and fiddling until I was happy with it.
Here I've built the lip up in Monster Clay. It's built right on top of the pattern thingy, stuck on around the edges with a little more Monster Clay, so I can fairly easily remove and reapply the lip to the mask or adjustments as needed.
Above, the two clay lips next to each other for comparison. The new lip is on the bottom. Very different shapes.
Gluing silicone casts of the new lip in place. Not so many clamps needed this time! (The rubber bands here are actually serving as clamps here too.) I tried using Weldbond instead of hot glue, as Weldbond is theoretically stronger and doesn't leave those lumpy ridges when it dries. Weldbond takes about 24 hours to fully cure, hence the clamps. It did a good job, but I'm not sure it does enough of a better job to justify the long wait time.
And, the new lips freshly installed. Wheee!!
Above, two straps made by cutting webbing (not elastic, we don't want these guys to stretch!) to about 12” lengths, feeding them through the two front clips, folding them in half and gluing the halves to one another. No glue on the clips, they need to be able to rotate on the straps. The suspension will be (well) suspended from these straps inside the head, allowing it to move and conform to the wearer's head.
Now, to make the "slots". The short story is, these two new straps will be glued between two layers of foam inside the head. I imagine the straps could also be riveted inside, or perhaps just glued to the bare resin, but foam sticks really hard to the scored-up inside of a head with hot glue, and the straps stick really hard to the foam so… Plus the foam provides a much larger gluing surface and therefore more security, in my mind anyway.
Above, the first layer of foam, visible underneath the browband, has been glued into the head. Then, the the correct placement for the suspension is found, with the browband going across the forehead just above the eyes. The clamps are only temporarily holding the suspension in the correct place, the browband will not actually be fixed to the mask like this but will be able to move inside the head somewhat.
Next, the two new straps are glued on the foam directly underneath the two preexisting straps with which they share clips. I glue the straps all the way from the front of the mask to the back, where I trim off any extra. The more gluing surface the better. Again, no glue on the clips!
I start working the top layer of foam before the suspension is glued in, and finish it afterwards. Above, making a pattern for this part using standard duck tape patterning procedures. I often use aluminum foil under the duck tape in place of the more standard plastic wrap as it is easier to handle, especially in a concave shape like this.
Next, cutting the slots for the clips into the pattern. Cut a little bit, try sliding the pattern over the clips, cut a little more, slowly but surely. Worse comes to worst the slots can be taped over and started over again.
Above, the finished pattern for the top layer of foam.
Above, the second foam piece has been cut out, laid into the head over the freshly glued pair of straps, and held in place with Wonder Clips. Working from one end to the other I'll unclip one Wonder Clip, smear hot glue around underneath the foam, and press it down until it cools. I work my way systematically across the head, unclipping each Wonder Clip in turn, putting glue under the foam, and moving on. The Wonder Clips keep the foam in the exact correct position while it's being glued. I'll cover the entire underside of the foam with glue, paying special attention to the openings for the clips. Lots and lots of glue, but again, none on the clips!!
Trying it out. I'm pleased with how it works.
Above, the suspension in the finished head. From these pictures you can get an idea of how it "floats" inside the head. It also makes the mask nice to take off and on, as once the back strap is adjusted to the wearer it's a lot like putting on a baseball cap. No straps to fasten and unfasten.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask! Thanks for looking!
Next, hitting the Interwebs for all the tailmaking tutorials I could find. Kloofsuits' was one of my favorites (view here). Switch Cosplay's was another (view here). The biggest difference I found between these two was the their methods for making the belt loops, Kloofsuits' below left and Switch Cosplay's below right. (That's my very helpful hubby holding the tails up and mugging it up for the camera.) I ultimately decided on Switch Cosplay's method, as the loops were less visible when the tail was worn by itself on a belt. Kloofsuits' method is less fiddly and probably stronger, but I suspect it's meant for tails to be worn through a hole in a fullsuit, where the loops would not be visible anyway.
I also did a lot of experimenting with the same pattern using different numbers of pieces, placements of seams, and direction of fur, the sketch above showing the different variations I tried. The one on the far left represents a tail made of two halves sewn together front and back. The advantage is obvious- super simple to make. The second one from the left is made of four pieces and has a seam going down either side as well. This helps give the tail a fuller, rounder look. The third pattern is made of eight pieces and is good for a tail with a black or white tip, and would also allow the fur to follow the tip's curve more closely. The last one is made of twelve pieces and can be used for a tail with a different colored underside, and allows the fur at the top to follow that curve more closely. I made all of these tails out of my solid, "cheap" white fur to be able to see any difference most clearly, and while I did like the way the fourth variation came out the best, I'm not sure I liked it that much better to justify the extra time it took. We will see. One thing I DID like about the fourth variation is that I could cut it out of my fabric with much less waste, since it was easier to fit the smaller pattern pieces on odds and ends I had on hand.
Here I am, experimenting on kids again. (They are expressing their sentiments on the matter, though that is harder to do with four fingered handpaws). Both these tails are made from the same pattern, but the one on my long haired daughter is the two piece variation, and the other on her BFF is the four piece one, with a seam running down the sides as well as the front and back. The thing that struck me most about these tails however was the way they seemed to come out of the kids' back at right angles, which made them look more like horse tails than wolf tails. Back to the drawing board.
Above, tail pattern, take two. While I like this one better I still think it comes out of the back at too sharp of an angle. As I often do, I printed out the photo and sketched ideas for changes on it, and used that for a reference for the third pattern.
Above, showing tails I made from the three patterns I did side by side, the one on the right being one being the one I ultimately wound up using. You can see the different angles at which they come out of the back. The one on the left is the four piece variation, the other two are the most complicated twelve piece one.
And TA DA!!! A finished tail, made out of "good" fur, intended to be part of a partial! This is the variation made with twelve pieces, with my third pattern above. Can't wait to start the head. Whee!!!!
I love patterning! Seems like alchemy, turning masking tape and magic markers on a resin base into lovely soft fur on a lifelike head! The tutorial on patterning at Dream Vision Creations is quite good, I didn't find any gaps in the info there I had to figure out how to fill in myself.
Above,starting the endeavor. The base is covered with a layer of plastic wrap and masking tape, the neck is filled out with plastic bags from the grocery store. Note to self- prior to patterning, save plastic shopping bags, don't be so efficient about bringing them to the recycling station at Price Chopper. This time around I wound up having to steal a big handful at the self-service checkout after buying a few token cans of tuna fish.
Above, the taping completed, and the markings/areas of different colors marked in with blue magic marker. I haven't decided what kind of tape I like best for patterning yet. Last time I used Duck Tape, which is tough and durable (and comes in lots of fun colors!) but very, very sticky and so a little tricky to work with. This time I used plain old Scotch brand masking tape, which is less durable and not quite sticky enough.
Above, pattern pieces labelled. Looks about as comprehensible as hieroglyphics. I won't get into what it all means here, as the DVC tutorial covers it well, but I will add this one comment- too many hashmarks to show how the pieces go back together are almost as bad as too few. After I had my fur pieces cut out and ready to be sewn together, I had a fair bit of trouble figuring out how the cheeks and eyebrows lined up with the top and back of the head. It didn't help that with so many hashmarks, forgetting to mark one or two in on the fur pieces was inevitable. Taking reference photos like these of the whole thing before it's cut apart can be a real lifesaver.
Above, the head after a visit from the resident OMG OCD!! department. This being my own resin head, and my first effort at making one, I was acutely aware of all its asymmetries, however small they might be. One question I had was how a pattern made on only one side of the head (standard practice as I understand) would fit on the other. So I traced out the pattern on tape covered aluminum foil and flipped it to cover the other side of the head. And yes, I concluded, doing the pattern on only one side of the head works just fine. If anything, doing this helps even out any of the head's little asymmetries.
One thing this exercise DID do was help show me which pieces could be flipped from one side to the other, thus making one big piece without a seam, and which pieces really did need to be two pieces, even if otherwise the fur was all the same color and all went in the same direction and such. For example, the big panel on the neck directly below the jaw looks like it could be one piece, saving me a seam up the middle, but I found there was no way to make one big piece out of it and accommodate the curve going from the center of the chest to the underside of the jaw. So two pieces it stayed. The little triangular shaped part under that piece, however, could be flipped and made into one piece.
Above, the pattern removed from the head, ready to be cut apart and used for a pattern. I think the masking tape "skin" is so cool. Next, laying out the pattern, cutting out the pieces and sewing!
Looks like I've neglected my blog for.... two years?? I've been busy though, mostly with my first attempt to build my first fursuit-style mask. Especially since I knew neither how to sew nor airbrush before I started out, it was quite the undertaking. Here are the chronicles of my adventures.
Above left, my freshly ordered mask parts from Dreamvision Creations on Etsy. I didn't want to make any of my own parts this time around, to try to limit the number of variables should something go wrong. Above right, Ezzy and I watching the Dreamvision Creation tutorials online. Ezzy wanted to make sure I didn't miss any important details, he is a very helpful cat.
Above left, a dude who seriously needs to lay off the coffee. Hinges have been added and all the various parts glued into the mask base. Above right, eyelids added. It's so cool how the eyes seem to follow afterwards!
Above left, a sketch of my idea for the color and pattern of the mask; above right, the actual duck tape patternwork for the fur. My daughter called the mask at this stage "Green Anubis". I thought I was so smart to use wet erase markers to draw the patternwork, and maybe it made fiddling with the pattern a little easier, but predictably some important reference marks got wiped off. Six of one, half dozen of the other...
Sewing sewing and more sewing. Top row left, I bravely start pinning pieces together while Isabelle works on a chibi Cthulhu. Top row right, hubby models the front half of the hood. Middle picture, I have finished sewing the face together while Isabelle makes faces too. Bottom row, one ear and the back of the hood sewn on. I later ripped the ear apart and re-glued it, as I didn't like the way the bottom edge was so much thicker than the top edge. Bottom row right, the back of the hood showing the Velcro cover over the zipper, and seams that need picking out.
CRAZY LADY WITH CLIPPERS!!! Shaving down and adding some shape to the mask. This part was almost as harrowing as gluing down the fur. It's very easy to make bald spots with the clippers by accident!!
The mask, fully assembled and modelled by my ever patient husband Brian, loved up by daughter Isabelle. Time to get some paint on this puppy!
However, I could airbrush about as well as I could sew (which is to say, not at all) so I decided again some classes were in order. I took a one day, six hour 1:1 intensive with Sean Avram which helped enormously. He told me that airbrushing was largely troubleshooting, and for the next six hours we would see how many ways the airbrush could be clogged and unclogged again.
And finally... TA DAAAAAA!!!! All done. Looking forward to making the next one!!