No pithy title today. Just a title and a disclaimer. I’ll be putting this into the Tutorial category, but this isn’t really a tutorial. It’s just a walk-through in my process making a fairly basic mask.
A hint of fall
Leaves and three types of mushrooms on an embossed blue mask
Leaf and Mushroom Mask
This is one of those masks that’s essentially just a sculptural painting in a mask shape. Once I finish it with a felt backing and hand-spun yarn, it will be wearable, but it could just be a bit of art to hang on a wall or put on a shelf. It isn’t intended to refer to any specific character or be part of a costume. It’s just a thing for its own sake.
As I mentioned above, this isn’t actually a tutorial. Someone experienced in polymer clay should be able to work out most of the details of what I’m doing here, but I’m not expecting a novice to be able to follow this and create a mask from this information alone. Someday, I will tackle that, but this process has shown me what a large undertaking that will be.
One last note. My masks usually take me at least 4 hours to create. I try to keep it under 6 hours, as the clay will eventually begin to un-condition and risk cracking in the oven. (Boy, did I learn that the hard way!) I wanted to keep this walk-through short, so I set myself a limit of 3 hours. There are several details that I would have changed if I’d had another hour or two, so please forgive the finished product looking a little less polished than usual. I just wanted to share the process.
OK. Here we go!
As I had dropped my previous mask mold, I took this opportunity to re-build it. It’s made of a pot lid, stove-top drip pans, an aluminum foil pie tin, lots of additional foil, and hastily muttered prayers.
Some clever person out there probably makes a good, smooth oven-safe mask mold. I am not that person.
I knew that I was going to be using a lot of browns for the leaves a mushrooms, so I worked on mixing up a nice, muted blue-green color for the base of the mask. Along the way, I decided that it was too light and bright, so I covered the ball in a dark brown, rolled it flat, turned it into a jelly roll, then rolled that flat to create the “fabric” for the mask.
When it was about the right size, I used the mask template that I made last year and cut out the shape. That template is awfully wide and not very tall, so I made some adjustments to the proportions. Then I smoothed out the edges, did some light embossing, made holes for the yarn, flipped over the mask to reinforce the holes, flipped it back over, finished the holes, applied mica powders, and smoothed the edges some more.
I made a couple of large mushrooms by making one cap, cutting it in half, and making two stems to go with them. I placed them on the mask, made some leaves, and added them in.
Finally, I made two more types of mushrooms and placed them on the mask with liquid clay. Time to pop it onto the mold and bake for an hour!
Look, Ma! It’s a mask!
I’ll need to cut some felt to back it (which I will glue on with Elmer’s), but it’s otherwise ready to use or display.