Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Paper Mache Mask

I have always been interested in paper mache. For Halloween last year I decided to make a mask that would be cast in paper mache.

The Internet is a wonderful place for information and recipes, a little mind boggling at times. Since I was going to be pressing the mache into a mold, I wanted a fine pulpy mixture, rather then the newspaper strips we all covered balloons with as kids.

The recipe I found (among many more) was tiny ripped up bits of toilet paper, PVC glue and water. I used sobo glue, but Elmer's glue would be just as good. Working in small batches, I mixed the three ingredients into a peanut butter-y consistency.

With this mixture I was able to easily press the mache into the nooks and crannies of my mold.

I also did a bit of research about what sort of mold would be best to cast the mache into. Many sites were about fabricating ventriloquist dummies and they recommend latex molds. I however, did not have the time to make a thick latex mold and opted for one of my all time favorites, Smooth-Ons Rebound 25.

The mache needs to evaporate to harden. Between layers (3 in total), I used a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. I then left it to dry further (in the mold) for a few more days. Once de molded, I let it dry for another few days.

One thing I did not take into consideration was the shrinking that would happen when a water based material dries out. My original sculpture was plenty big to fit on my head a day after it was de molded, a week later it was a very tight fit.

Trimming the edges was easily done with sharp scissors. Once fully dried, the mache can be dremeled and sanded. Had I more time, I would have finished the mask properly with a little sanding.

My inspiration for the mask was a Japanese kabuki performer. I used nail polish to mimic the lacquer often found on antiques.

Unfortunately I had to work the entirety of Halloween and I did not have a chance to wear my costume. There is always next year...... and hopefully more paper mache projects!

The mask sculpture in progress. Sculpted in Chavant clay.

The first layer of molding silicone.

I made the mother mold in UltraCal plaster.

The mold and the mask cast in paper mache.

The almost finished mask painted with nail polish. 
I later added ribbon to each side to tie around the head.