Front of mask that looks like woman's face. It is painted pure white, with golden hair and copper lips. Green leafy background with rays of setting sun.

Primary materials: Cloth, glue, joint compound, tape, newspaper, foam, acrylic paint.

This project gave me a lot of appreciation for the difficulties of trying to sculpt a human face and maintain symmetry.

It began as a clay sculpture, which was a whole learning process in itself. When I had something I was pretty happy with, I covered the sculpture in a layer of cloth strips, which I dipped in a mixture of glue and joint compound. I had to split the mask into three parts to keep the cloth from binding onto the clay: one face section, and two sections for the hair.

I quickly had some very thin shell pieces that looked on the outside almost identical to the finished mask. Nearly all the work from here on consisted in reinforcing them and knitting them together in a way that was strong, but didn’t blow out the details of the face or make it too uneven looking. I did throw some strings of rolled tape and foam rods onto the hair sections to add a little extra detail, because the clay texture didn’t come through the way I wanted.

Left angle view of mask.
I broke out my scarf-draping skills!

Right angle view. The mask, which is on (and concealing) a manikin head, is "wearing" a dark brown scarf.

My intention for this mask was to make something that looked human and, as far as I could, looked pretty. Cloth and glue is a challenging material to use for this purpose, because if it’s thin it’s weak, and if it’s thick it can get wrinkly and lumpy. It is great for bigger, rougher, scarier creations, not so much for delicate symmetry.

Because this still doesn’t quite look human, I didn’t want to paint it flesh tones, in case that would make it look creepier. I decided to go for titanium white, and used various metallic paints for color: iridescent bronze and gold for the hair, gold alone for the eyebrows, and copper for the lips.

The mouth is open very slightly for air flow, and the nose-holes are functional. I glued mesh into the eyes and some foam padding inside for comfort. It is held onto the wearer’s head using some leather and Velcro straps.