Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shivering Blimps

Today we have a very picture intensive post as I practically give a step-by-step how-to guide of this mask I am making. I've been taking lot of pictures along the way, pretty much because I live my life as if it were a how-to guide.

Here goes!
(It's cool because everything was uploaded in the opposite order I wanted.)

Light behind the mask to show the cut out eyes.

I took that dremel tool to the mask and cut out the eyes. It was hard work, and actually kind of scary. Almost right away I lost control of the tool a bit and nicked the side of the eye on the right. It seemed like after that, nothing would cut as smoothly as I wanted it to. The eyes turned out quite a bit shorter than I wanted them to, since the dremel couldn't make holes small enough to reach the very edges of the design. I think it still looks pretty great.

Close-up of my handy work, showing the nicked eye and mask thickness.

I decided that I wanted to paint the inside edges of the eye holes black to reduce any glare on the wearer. Doing that turned out to be an awesome idea aesthetically, because it made it seem like there was no edge to the eyes. They were just black shapes on the mask, but with an eery feeling of depth...

Tape around the front of the eyes, ready for painting.

I put tape on the front of the mask over the holes to make sure I wouldn't accidentally paint over the edge. It worked really well, but any little nicks or chips I caused with the dremel got filled in a little bit with black paint. It was nothing too serious, though.

Detail of the opposite side of the mask, with freshly painted eyes and tape still applied.

In that last picture there are a lot of deep crags in the mask. That's because I covered my mask form with plastic wrap to make sure it would pop out without problems. You can also clearly see the yellow spots that plague my mask. Next time I'll use the right kind of flour.

The otherworldly abyss of the keaton's gaze.

I hadn't marked where I would paint the ears yet, so I did that after I painted the eyes. I love this clay material because it is mostly just paper. I can use a pencil to draw on it no problem, and so long as the area is smooth it will erase pretty well. I just have to be careful not to touch the pencil markings, because it will smudge off.

First coating of yellow paint.

I put very little effort into staying inside the lines when I painted the very first layer of yellow. I knew it would go on thin enough that I could still see my pencil underneath, and that the black paint would easily cover its color. Unfortunately, the paint was also thin enough that you could still see the yellow spots underneath. I ended up with 2 and a half coatings of yellow paint. The third coat I just kind of put paint wherever I thought the spots still stood out without any regard as to whether the paint had dried there yet or not.

Black parts all painted.

The black was fun to paint with because it went on with such a solid color, but that also meant I had to be really careful to make nice edges. If there's one thing I learned from painting the garage however many summers ago, it's that a wet brush will make the sharpest lines. If there isn't enough paint on your brush, your edges will get thready, and your lines will be wobbly as a result. A steady hand was important to make good lines and edges on this mask, because I couldn't use painter's tape. The surface had far too many imperfections.

Black cloth stretched and taped over the eyes.

When you put the mask on and breath, all of the air comes rushing in through the eye holes and right into your eyes. I found that out shortly after cutting out the eyes and I sucked an nice big cloud of mask dust right into my eyes. I also didn't want the flashes of any cameras going off and illuminating the face behind the mask, ruining the illusion of painted-on eyes. So I put a black material behind the eye holes to catch most of the wind and block most of a camera's flash. The material is really opaque, but very stretchy. If you stretch it tightly both ways, you can see through it well enough to read the expression on a person's face, but text messages and digital clocks are a different matter.

Felt lining in place.

I spent a lot of time cutting out pieces of black felt and getting it to fit snugly inside the mask. Then I used a felting needle to make it one nice, big, form-fitted piece of felt. It fits pretty well, except I couldn't get it to go all the way into the deep nose. It'll be fine, so long as nobody tries to punch a finger through it. It won't be a big deal if they do, though. I'll just be irritated because it was a lot of work.. I also made sure to cut out eye-holes in the felt. Those were seriously last second, I forgot that sometimes people need to see.

I haven't glued the felt in yet, which is a really good thing because I have just now realized that I haven't sealed it yet. I'll want to do that soon, because the felt will collect moisture from your breath, and then hold it against the mask for a long period of time. That might make all of my handy work mushy and terrible. I'll have to take the black cloth out, though. What a pain, it was difficult to get in there, what with the stretching and the taping.

I need to figure out a way to attach the strap. I decided on this nice length of black suede I've got, which goes nicely with the theme of black I have going on inside the mask. What I want to do is glue it so that it runs as a band along the inside of the mask, just above the eyes, but I can't find a glue strong enough that will be safe to breath. What I don't want to do it drill holes, because that will mean that I have to make ugly knots on either side of the mask with the strap. There isn't enough room inside to hide the knots, so they would have to go on the outside.

What I think I will end up doing is taping the strap down nice and firmly where I want it along the inside, maybe with some white glue underneath, and then drill holes and thread it through there. I'll loop the strap through the holes a second time, to give reinforcement and prevent it from getting so tight that the tape lifts out. If that gives me trouble, then I can just pull the strap out and do the big ugly knot thing.

Alright! I am almost done. Just a little bit left to go!

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