Moving jaw test for Maxine the Mask. Thank you to the long suffering hubby for his patience!!! I'm pretty happy with it.
I also wanted the teeth to sit up much higher in the lower jaw than they did in my first head, as they kinda disappeared into lips and fur after I got it assembled. I played a lot with layers of Foamies underneath the teeth to get them exactly where I wanted them, and so far I'm happy with how they look.
As with the previous head, I've been referring to the DVC tutorials online as I work on this head, and much to my confusion they've started redoing that series- when I did the first mask, the lips were applied last, after the airbrushing, and now they're applied early in the process, along with the eyelids. Maybe they were done last in the first series so that airbrush overspray wouldn't get on them, but that's easy enough to paint over with black paint. In any case it was a pain to apply them with fur already there, and so far I like this way better.
I also learned the hard way it's best to cut the cast up right before assembling it. I was so excited to get a good cast I couldn't wait to open the eyes up and hinge the jaw, and then I let the head sit, and sit, and sit.... and the jaw warped, shifting to one side. Now the head has an expression kinda like this: :-/ Nothing that can't be fixed with a Dremel and some epoxy, but still, something I'd rather avoid in the future.
Above, working out how to resculpt the jaw to make it look straighter. I often take a photo of an area I'm working on, print it out and draw on it, to help visualize what I should do. In the printout /drawing to the right, I've decided to dremel off the lip outside of the thick blue line. Another point for adding the lip early on- it gave me a way to tweak the jaw I wouldn't have had otherwise.
(And... one day I went down into the basement to work, and I found my daughter had gotten into my packing peanuts....)
Above, the lower jaw resculpted and straightened out a bit. I think it looks much better. Neatening up the edge of the lower lip helped a bit too.
Above, chiffon added to one tear duct but not yet the other, as modelled by my packing peanut loving daughter. Freaky deaky!
Two takeaways for the next resin base sculpt:
First, make sure the areas in which the eyes will be glued are as flat as possible and in the exact same plane with each other. Any crookedness or unnevenness in these areas will be greatly exaggerated when the resin eyes are in place, and gives the mask a rather wall-eyed, inbred expression. Next base sculpt, I think I'll use metal or rigid plastic discs of the correct size to mark out these areas and leave them there while moldmaking, to make sure those areas don't squish out of shape. I was able to glue the eyes into this base to my satisfaction using bits of resin and hot glue to level them out, but care taken with the next sculpt could definitely make the process a lot easier.
Second, sculpt the next head so that it can easily take a nose with a flat back. DVC noses, and I suspect any other noses that are cast separately and glued on to a base later, have flat backs. I suspect they are made in one piece molds, the backs of which are open so that the casting material can be poured in, which then levels out as it sets. When I removed the nose on this base to accommodate the DVC nose, I was left with an awkwardly shaped hole into which to glue it. I re-sculpted the area a bit with epoxy so that the nose would fit (the thick black band behind the nose in the pics is epoxy for the most part) and so all is well that ends well, but again, this is something to take into consideration for future head sculpts.
For my last head, I was in so much noobie awe of my resin jawset from DVC that I was afraid to alter it in any way, shape or form. By the time I was ready to make this head, I had seen how cool jawsets could look when painted, and especially since I love to play with color, I wanted to give it a whirl. Here is the tutorial I used to paint my teeth.
Above, top, the painted jawset before gloss acrylic sealer was applied, and bottom, after. (Oooo, shiny!!)
Public Service Announcement- when spraying sealer, make sure the little arrow on the trigger thingy is pointing TOWARDS the object you're spraying! In what might have been my biggest "D'OH!" moment ever I sprayed myself in the face with the sealer, coating my $400 progressive glasses with a fine and very tough mist. My noble husband rode to the rescue and spent a half an hour in the basement gently cleaning the lenses with mineral spirits, and amazingly enough, was able to salvage them. Thank goodness I was wearing the glasses and didn't spray myself directly in the eyes!!!
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!!
Willow Chang http://www.willowchang.com/ and Passport Productions presented the annual PUJA Gods and Monsters dance concert on June 6 and June 7 at the WCC Paliku Theatre in Kaneohe, HI, which included performances by Anasma from France, Meissoun from Switzerland, Eduardo Rodrigues from Argentina as well as an appearance by Sans Souci Studios' wolf mask "Sneer"! I was just thrilled to pieces to have had my work included in this performance. I think right now I'd consider it a high point in my career!
Check out photographer Joe Marquez' beautiful pictures of my mask in the performance:
The dancer wearing the mask is Eduardo Rodriguez from Argentina. I am just amazed at how his performance has transformed the mask into something so completely beyond what it was when it left my studio. Eduardo Rodriguez is currently on tour with Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco. To learn more see these articles: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/saltimbanco/show/acts.aspx
I had a mask on display in the world famous Shelburne Museum!
Well, kinda sorta.
This particular mask was purchased by Emmy Robertson to create a "Sheep In Wolf's Clothing" she planned to exhibit during The Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild's annual show, "Hooked in the Mountains XIII: Expect the Unexpected", November 8 - 16, 2008, in the Round Barn of the Shelburne Museum. I was very disappointed that I couldn't see the show personally, as my daughter spent the night before the one day I could go throwing up all over everything in sight, but Emmy was kind enough to send me these pics so I could see the piece and share with you. Thank you Emmy!
The Shelburne Museum is a world famous museum of art and Americana located in Shelburne, VT. For more information please visit http://www.shelburnemuseum.org/.
While I was getting this cutie ready for eBay, it occured to me I could snap some pictures and give a demonstration of my current method for hairing a mask. (This mask is available at auction on eBay until March 15, cheap because it's a materials test and too heavy to wear.)
Equipment and materials needed: Wefted and perhaps bulk Kanekalon hair in choice of colors; glue (I use a tacky white craft glue, others I've spoken to prefer hot glue); cotton swabs; wax paper; sharp scissors, a pencil, and a small container of water.
More on hair. I can imagine people out there scratching their heads and going, "wefted??" Essentially that means the hair is sewn onto long strips, which makes it much, much easier to apply. I've purchased just about all of my hair from African-American beauty supply shops, where it is sold as 'hair extensions'. I use the bulk hair for areas where I don't want the weft to show, ie, at and near hairlines, although I also use hair that has been cut from the weft on another mask during a bang trim or such. So far I have only found this hair to be available wholesale, so a wholesaler's number is needed to purchase it. However it is possible to buy repackaged (?) bulk hair for a somewhat greater cost from www.monstermakers.com.
So essentially I divide areas to hair into three parts: the back of the mask, where I can use the wefted hair; an area roughly 2 or 3 inches away from the hairline where I will glue loose hair; and any actual hairline itself, for which I will construct a little 'hairpiece'.
Here we see the mask looking something like a tonsured monk, with about half the wefted hair applied. Applying wefted hair is easy peasy. First I cut the weft to appropriate lengths. Then starting at the back of the mask and working forward, I apply a bead of glue to the weft and apply it in rows approximately 1 - 1 1/2 inches apart. Sometimes I'll need the hold the ends of the weft down for a few minutes until the glue starts to set, or worse comes to worst I'll reglue the ends down after the rest of it has dried.
In this picture I have applied all the wefted hair and am now gluing on loose hair. To hide the weft, which is convenient but rather ugly, I switch from the wefted hair to the loose hair about three inches or so from the hairline. I apply a bead of glue to the mask, and then I pick up small (about 1 inch wide) and thin handfuls of hair, trim the edge square with a sharp pair of scissors, and lay it down into the glue. Then I press it down using a damp cotton swab. When the swab starts getting too gluey and the hair starts sticking to it instead of to the mask, I throw it away and get another. It helps to have a small container of water and a big pile of swabs nearby before starting this task.
I am more likely to err on the side of making the handfuls of hair too thick instead of too thin. Too thick, and most of the hair will not stick in the glue, it will just come loose and make a mess. It is almost impossible to err on the side of making the handfuls too thin.
I make the rows closer together with the loose hair than I do with the wefted hair, about 1/2" apart. The loose hair has to be applied more thinly, so the rows need to be placed more closely together to cover adequately.
Above are a series of pics showing the creation of a hairline. I usually do this part first, before I do anything else with the hair on a mask, so that the pieces have time to dry and will be ready by the time I need them.
(First pic.) I trace the hairline with a pencil on a piece of wax paper, lay down a line of glue, and then press loose hair into the glue using a damp cotton swab. Again, if the swab starts to get too sticky, and the hair wants to stick to it instead of the glue, I throw it out and start with another. I let this dry until the glue is clear (usually overnight) and then (second pic) trim along the pencil line. After this I (third pic) very carefully peel the finished hairpiece from the wax paper, and (fourth pic) glue it in place.
Above is a pic of the nearly finished hairline in the front of the mask as well.
After the glue has dried overnight, I comb out the loose hair (there is always a lot of loose hair, don't worry too much about any shedding at this point) and then trim and style if I so desire. I put any big hanks of trimmed hair in a ziplock baggie to save for future hairing projects, and then to tone down any shininess, I color over the dried glue on the hairline with acrylic paint or a matching Sharpie.
There it is! Any questions, please feel free to drop me a note at email@example.com!
I've spent the last month or so trying the papier mache strip method I'd practiced in my smaller 'eyeball' masks in larger, multipart molds. I've continued to use an initial detail coat layer of a Polyfilla/Weldbond mix, a second layer of cheesecloth with the Polyfilla/Weldbond mix, and subsequent layers of kraft paper and outdoor wood glue.
Some differences I've found in making small masks and large multipart masks this way:
1) I need to use much more care in the cheesecloth layer in a large mask than in a small one. There is more opportunity for overlapping layers of cheesecloth to build up thickness in a large mask, which does not contribute anything to strength, and can prevent the Polyfilla/Weldbond mix from penetrating all the way through to the mold. This can leave many pits and holes in the surface of the mask that will later need to be filled. I use extra care around deep and very detailed areas, and I try to overlap the cheesecloth just to be sure there is no gaps in coverage, but no more.
2) I need to use more layers of paper in large masks than in small ones. How many? It depends entirely on the shape and level of detail in the mask, with very detailed areas (wrinkles, lips, gumlines, etc) naturally being stronger and very smooth ones (cheeks, etc) being comparatively weaker. I still use only two layers of paper in areas with lots of detail, and up to ten in very smooth ones. I also use eight to ten layers of paper around the edges of the mask. A mask with enough layers will have only a slight amount of flex to it. I have found one sure way to know that I need more layers- if I put sealer on the mask, and it becomes limp and rubbery and then warps all to hell, I haven't used enough. Waaaahhhh!!!!!
3) Obviously, I need to join the pieces somehow or another. I'm not sure I'm done experiementing with this, but here's what I do now. I cast each piece of the mask seperately. I overhang the cheesecloth just a little over the edges of the mold and glue it down tightly, using a weaker glue such as Elmer's (no point in using a stronger glue which I'll just have to trim off later!) I do the same thing with one layer of paper in areas which I won't be able to reach into when the mold is closed (ears, tips of noses and lips, etc.) (You can see this cheesecloth edge in the pic of the unassembled mold above, and see the resulting "fringe" in the pic of the raw cast.) I have found, much to my great suprise, that this little edge of paper and or cheesecloth will not interfere with the mold assembly, as long as it is smoothly and tightly pressed down, and it is fairly easy to trim off afterwards with a craft knife. I then apply a bead of straight Weldbond to paper edges, a Polyfilla/Weldbond mix to the cheesecloth edges, clamp all the pieces of the mold together, and apply two more layers of kraft paper over the seams I can reach. Then I anxiously wait for the whole thing to feel dry, and unmold it!
In general, this method yields nice results. The masks are very light and strong, and the detail and finish are exceptional. The downside is that this method is extremely time consuming- it takes me fourteen hours to cast a "Rip" mask (the one shown above) this way, compared to eight for my infamous Paperclay slip/Sculpt and Coat method. I think the resulting quality is worth it, and I'm going to see if I can cut back on time spent elsewhere in production. I'm going to look into airbrushing, to see if I can spend less time painting!