Introduction: Leather Sugar Skull Mask
It's always a great time to create using leather! With a little instruction anyone can do it.
I inspired to create this mask based on the beautiful sugar skulls used in "Day of The Dead" or "Dia De Los Muertos" a Mexicsn holiday to honor friends and family that have passed.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Supplies
Because you can make your sugar skull as simple or as detailed as you want I am just going to list the basic materials here. Along the way as I embellish my mask to my taste, I will list what is used. Add what you like and leave off what you don't.
1. Leather tooling sheet can be purchased at Tandy Leather or you can use a scrap piece if you have it. I wanted my mask to be light so I went with a thinner leather but any thickness would work.
2. Eco Flow leather paint colors of your choice and a Super Sheen sealer can be purchased at Tandy Leather.
3. Xacto knife or box knife
4. Leather Swivel knife can be purchased at Tandy Leather
6. Tracing paper
7. Mask template - create one yourself or find one online
8. Tub for hot water
9. Super Sheen leather sealer
10. Optional - Stamping tools
Step 2: Getting Your Pattern on the Leather
First, I like to put my pattern on thick card stock so I have a stiff template. Then I cut out my pattern using scissors or a xacto.
Then, trace around your pattern onto the leather sheet. You are going to paint the leather so it doesn't matter what side you draw on. Use the Xacto to cut out your pattern from the leather.
Step 3: Create Your Pattern
Now is the time to let the creativity flow. You can sketch directly on the leather with a pen if you are confident of your design but I wanted to make sure I liked my pattern before applying.
Using tracing paper over the paper pattern I drew my designs. Once happy with them I was ready to transfer to the leather.
For this part I used a small amount of water on my finger tips and rubbed it over the front of the mask. Just enough to darken the top layer of leather so you can press the design in.
Then you will see the leather soak up the water and the surface start lightening up, now it is ready for the pattern.
Lay your tracing paper over the mask. You can use the pen or any pointed object to trace over your pattern. This week leave masks pressed into your leather that you will then tool.
Step 4: Tooling Your Pattern Into the Leather
This is were you can keep things as simple as just using a swivel knife and cutting in the basic outlines for your patterns or trick it out with stamping tools if you have them. I have included pictures of the tools I used for this project. Make sure the leather surface is damp so it accepts the stamping.
They can all be purchased at Tandy Leather. If you have never used stamping tools before I suggest going to Tandy Leather website and watching their tutorials.
Step 5: Wet Mold the Mask
You will need to get a container large enough to fit your mask. Fill it with hot tap water. Place the mask into the water. It only takes about a minute or less. a you will feel the leather become pliable and ready to shape.
Some people use there own face or a friends but this can be problematic when it comes to keeping the shape and dry time. I suggest using a foam head from a Halloween shop or mannequin like I did.
Lay the wet leather over the face and shape it around the nose and eyes. You can lift areas you want to get the desired look. You can leave it there to dry over night or speed up the process by:
Using a blow drier on high or place the mask in the oven on a cookie sheet with parchment paper at 225 degrees for 15 minutes. Then check on it. The mask should be warm but not hot to the touch. It is dry when the color has lightened back to the original shade.
Step 6: Ready for Paint
Be creative! I use Eco Flo paint because it is made for leather. It has more of a plastic base so it will bond well with the leather and remain flexible.
I painted the entire mask white then added lots of colors!
Step 7: Add Some Age to Your Piece
Optional :To really bring out your tooling and finish the mask I used Hi-Lite stain in Briar Brown. This adds an aged look and settles into the cuts you made with the swivel knife. Can be purchased at Tandy Leather.
I applied it using a large brush then wiped it off with a paper towel. if you get to much on you can use a damp paper towel and wipe off the excess.
Step 8: Optional Detailing - Petals & Gems
By now you have a great looking mask. I wanted to go over the top and decided to add flower petal eyes and gems. You can stop here or keep going. Warning: this is tedious but with it!
To create the petals I cut circles from the scrap leather and soaked them in water to get them soft. Then I bent them into the shape I liked and let them dry.
Then painted and aged them using the Hi-Lite stain.
After they were dry I used super glue and placed then around the eyes along with some gems that I had left over from another project.
Step 9: Seal Your Mask
To keep your project looking great for years to come make sure to use a spray sealer. I prefer Super Sheen from Tandy Leather.
Step 10: Add a String to Each Side and You Are Finished
You might want to wear your mask. If you do you can tie a ribbon or string through each eye hole or use a Dremel to drill small holes in each side of the mask to fit your string.
Step 11: Your Finished!
Now you are ready to party!