Introduction: 3-in-1 Leather Dr. Whoo Owl Mask With Goggles
Named by my friend Christine during a 'Name This Mask' poll on Facebook, Dr. Whoo is a fun, versatile mask/goggles combo that you can wear several ways and display as art when not otherwise in use.
Step 1: Let's Get Started!
What you'll need:
5-6 oz. vegetable tanned leather
Russian GP-5 gas mask from military surplus or e-bay
Two harness needles
X-Acto knife with #11 blades
Acrylic paint or dye and sponge or brushes for applying
Tandy Line 24 snaps and snap setting tool
Ball point pen
Leather hole punch
Oil tanned or similar pliable leather for straps
Something with texture - shoe soling rubber, screen, wire mesh, etc. (I used a piece of metal grating with a ball peen hammer, a scrap of plastic shoe soling material, and the golf ball itself).
Optional (but highly recommended) upgrade:
Scratch resistant polycarbonate to replace the glass gas mask lenses
Letter opener or similar to pry off lens cover tabs
Laser cut or print and cut out the leather pattern pieces. If laser cutting, be sure to do a few small sample cuts to get the settings right for the leather thickness.
If printing and cutting out from a paper pattern, hold the pattern firmly in place and trace on the smooth side of the leather using a ball point pen. Use the X-Acto blade to cut the pieces out. This will require firm downward pressure. Careful not to stand in the path of the blade as you're pulling it toward you!
Step 2: Patterns!
I forgot to include the patterns! Here they are. Sorry about that! I got too excited about making my first Instructables and completely overlooked that part.
Step 3: Clean Up Your Edges
This step is only necessary if you've cut your mask out by hand and you're picky about how your edges will look. If you prefer a more rustic look, you can skip this step.
I'm super picky about my edges. I use a Tandy Edge Beveler and a Tandy Pear Shader (although this is not the Pear Shader's intended use) to edge and compress the fibers for a smooth finished edge later.
The edge beveler works best on slightly damp edges. If you don't have a pear shader, you could also use the rounded edge of a butter knife handle or something similar. The goal here is to press gently against the outer edge of the leather in a fluid motion.
Step 4: Add Texture
This is the fun part! I'm always on the hunt for things that will add interesting texture to leather. To apply, simply dampen the smooth leather surface, wait a minute or two for it to dry again a bit, and then hammer something into it or roll a golf ball over something like wire mesh, screen, plastic shoe soling, whatever you can find that creates a texture you like. Don't worry if it's not too bold - your paint or dye will help to bring it out.
Step 5: Make Stitching Holes
I use a wing divider to trace along the edge of the leather so I know where to place the chisel when I'm making stitching holes. You can also achieve this by eyeballing it or using a nail or something pointy that will make an indentation.
When you use the chisel, position it so that the last hole made is where you place the first prong, each time. This will keep your spacing completely even.
Once you have all your stitching holes made, count them to make sure there are the same number as on the piece you'll be stitching to! Sounds obvious but sometimes this does create a problem.
I also use the fid at this point to open the holes up a bit wider. It makes it easier to sew by hand.
If you prefer to sew by hand the traditional way, you can also use an awl and skip the chisel and hammering.
You can probably also machine sew if you have an industrial machine that will go through leather, but I've never tried.
I did try using rivets instead of sewing, but I wasn't happy with the results. Maybe you'll figure out a great way to do it!
Step 6: Paint Your Leather Goggle Surrounds and Add Snaps
After the stitching holes are made, I paint my leather goggle pieces. My favorite is the 'Steampunk Brown' acrylic paint I make from equal parts Scarlet Red and Light Green of Angelus Acrylic Leather Paints. If you don't have access to Angelus products, Tandy also makes many color options. I haven't used them yet, but a Tandy representative will be able to assist you!
Snap placement for this project has a 'secret'. For the wider inside goggles piece, place the cap snaps on the inside with the receptacles on the front, or smooth side, of the leather. This will seem backwards but there's a reason for it!
On the front narrow goggles piece, use the stem on the inside with the flat socket on the smooth side. This will allow the leather pieces to be stitched together - not so easily - but it'll work, and when it's together you'll be able to snap the goggles to the mask and the straps to the goggles. If the snap placement is confusing, don't feel bad! It still confuses ME! Just scroll to the last step and take a look at the finished components and how the snaps are arranged.
Step 7: Saddle Stitch Your Leather Goggle Surrounds
The Saddle Stitch seems a little tricky at first, but it's really quite easy and extremely durable. Google 'How to Saddle Stitch' and you'll find many tutorials and videos on this topic.
When I saddle stitch, I always cut the thread at an angle so it'll thread into the needle easier. I use Nyltex wax coated thread, but you can also use a heavy carpet thread or linen hand stitching thread if you prefer.
I sew one half of the goggles first and then the second half so I don't have to use such a long piece of thread. Starting at the inner corner of an 'eye' and stitching to the corresponding inner location (nose area?) seems to work well. To cut the correct length of thread, pull it around the distance you'll be sewing, double it, and add about 6 more inches. This will give you plenty of thread to work with and shouldn't run you short. If you do find that you're running out, simply stitch in the reverse direction a few stitches, snip the remainder off on the back side, and start over where you left off.
Step 8: Shape Your Owl Mask
To figure out where the snaps need to go, fold your mask in half, fold the goggles over the mask, and press a snap against the mask surface. This will leave a faint circle in the surface. Aim your hole punch for the center of this circle. Then fold you mask in half and mark the opposite side through the first hole. This will ensure your goggles will be balanced and evenly placed. After you've marked the spot, punch the second hole.
Take your mask to a running water source and rinse it until it's completely saturated. This can be warm or cold water. I prefer warm :)
Blot your mask on a towel until it's not so drippy. I use men's waxed dress shoe laces as a temporary way to tie the mask to my face. Add a knot in the end of each lace ahead of time and then thread them though the holes will the knots on top. Tie the mask to your face so your hands are free for shaping.
Standing in front of a mirror, make sure your eyes are centered in the openings. Beginning at the bridge of your nose, begin to form the mask to your face. Pull outwards on the 'beak' and remove any pressure from your nose. The beak on this mask supports the goggles a bit so as you're shaping, hold the goggles up to make sure they're working well together.
Blow dry the mask for a few minutes to get it to cooperate better. You'll understand what I mean soon! As it dries a little more, it'll hold its shape better. Once it holds its shape well, finish sculpting it and then dry for a few more minutes. Rapid dehydration is what causes vegetable tanned leather to retain its shape!
Put your mask on once more to ensure everything is as you'd like. Now you can hang your mask face-down from pegs the same distance as the width of your head. If you can leave it here until tomorrow, do so. It'll be dry and ready for paint when you return!
If you're too impatient to see how it's going to look, and you don't mind blow drying it for a VERY LONG TIME, take a break first. Let it hang and then come back to it. This part is boring. When you think it's dry, let it cool off and touch it to your face. If it feels clammy at all, it's not dry yet. Keep going.
Step 9: Paint Your Owl and Assemble Your Dr. Whoo!
Finally dry! Using a little square of slightly dampened sponge, begin painting! I recommend painting the inside and outside both. Paint the inside first, and paint the outside QUICKLY. The paint dries really fast!
Once the paint is dry, rub the edges with something. I like to use my boxwood burnisher, but you can really use anything with a hard surface. This will make the edges firm and shiny.
Cut a pair of flexible leather straps and attach a snap to each. Or, make two sets of straps so your friend can wear one piece while you wear the other!
Snap your Dr. Whoo together. The goggles snap to the Owl, the straps snap to the goggles, and you're all set!
If you or your friend can't wear either piece because of glasses, the goggles will look amazing around their favorite top hat!