(Please pardon the friendly local neighborhood middle aged geeks....)
There are a few basics to balancing and strapping a mask I have known since that very first maskmaking workshop I took at the dawn of time. The mask should rest on a wearer’s “third eye”, in the center of the forehead a little above the eyebrows. The strap should go from just above the tops of the ears to under the base of the skull/along the top of the neck. If you stop to think about it, you’ll notice that drawing a line around these points does not make a continuous circle, like a crown, but a bent shape with a shallow angle over the tops of the ears, as if someone had taken that crown and stepped on it.
You can’t really get this bent-crown shape with simple mask straps, but it doesn’t matter much if the mask is lightweight and well balanced, as would be your standard paper mache Mardi Gras mask. But if the mask starts to get larger and more unbalanced, say, from a toothy long snout sticking out in front, it becomes both more important and harder to do. A simple strap that goes under the base of the skull will want to pull the mask down on the forehead, a strap that supports the mask directly behind the forehead will be too high on the head and want to come flying off.
After spending weeks trying to solve this problem, it dawned on me that someone years before me had probably already figured it out. I brainstormed lists of all the big awkward headgear I could think of, which ultimately led me to, the construction helmet. And lo and behold, construction helmet suspensions had that bent-crown shape I needed and were cheap and easily available on Amazon! And as a big added bonus, they are adjustable to fit just about any sized head. Now just to figure out how to install one.
(The black hoods in these pictures were an early idea for installation. They didn't work. Well, except maybe to make us look even more geeky.)
One thing I learned, after much trial and error, is that the suspension needs to “float” inside the head. The suspension clips (those things that look like points on a crown) slide into slots in the construction helmet, leaving all the straps free to move and adjust to the size and shape of a wearer’s head. Attaching these straps permanently inside the mask distort them and keep them from moving as they should. I had to think of the equivalent of a clip slot in the head, and ultimately came up with the following.
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.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask! Thanks for looking!