Introduction: Make a Professional Quality Mask for $15 (and a Lot of Elbow Grease)
So, I like to make my own costumes for halloween. For this year I decided to make Gin from Hotarubi no Mori e. Now, I have had experience in the past making masks, but none of them have turned out very well. This with the addition of not having a large budget meant I had to think a little creatively. I decided that I'd use papier mache with bondo (auto body filler) over top. This way, I could create a strong solid base without using a lot of noxious materials (polyester resin) while still having a hard and smooth surface. So, let's get started!
Disclaimer: I said $15, as that is how much I spent on it. However, there are some materials that I already had lying around (you may too) so I didn't need to buy them. However, if you were to buy everything you need in this tutorial (asides the $15, paint, brushes, sandpaper) can easily be bought for under $15. So, max cost for this project is $30.
P.S. I didn't write a lot about what I'm doing in the text body, but I have a lot of annotations on images, so see those if you're confused.
Step 1: Lots, and Lots, and Lots of Masking Tape
Now, for the first step you need a cheap styrene mask. I got mine at michaels for about $4. You also need a lot of white masking tape, and newspaper. Basically, take the newspaper, scrunch it into balls, and tape it onto the mask. Just keeping adding more and more until the form is how you want it.
Step 2: Papier-Mâché!
Now it's time to move to papier mache! Now, there are about a billion different ways to do papier mache, and mine isn't the best. But, it is a way. If you want some good resources for papier mache recipes, I recommend here or here. Also, I highly recommend using some sort of mold/form release (such as petroleum jelly). It will make the next step so much easier.
Step 3: Remove the Mask Form
Now, time for a tricky part. You need to take the form out from underneath the mask. Now, if you used some sort of release in the last step, this should be pretty easy. If you didn't, like me, it takes a little more coercing.
Step 4: Back to Papier-Mâché
Now, time to go back to the papier mache to fix a few things up.
Step 5: Bondo!
Now, time for bondo! Basically, this step is apply bondo, sand, apply bondo, sand, apply bondo, etc.
Step 6: Odds and Ends
Now, this isn't one particular step, but just a few things. As I mentioned at the end of the last step, I cut out the eye wholes using a drill press and a coping saw. I also used some wire to glue some small strap anchors (I didn't want to drill holes in the side, but you are welcome to). Also, to prevent mildew, I sealed the inside of the mask with a couple coats of wood glue.
Step 7: Painting Time!
It's time to paint! I'm really sorry, but I didn't really take many images during this step, but how you do this step will differ quite a bit from mask to mask. Basically, I used some gesso to act as a primer (and one final smoothing layer) while sanding in between (the gesso isn't actually necessary, but if you have it on hand), and then coated the whole thing with matte white spray paint. After that I painted on all the little features with acrylic paint, and sealed the whole thing with matte fixative (although, it does seem to have a bit of gloss). Also, these are just small things, so I feel that they didn't need their own step, but I added a little hook with yarn to act as the strap to hold the mask in place (if you have elastic, I recommend that) and taped some thin black fabric behind the eyes to make it look more like the movie.
Step 8: Wear It!
Now all you have to do is wear it with an outfit to fit (and is allowed due to climate), then take a whole bunch of selfies.
Final thoughts: I'm pretty proud of this piece. It's my first instructable and my first mask that I spent money on ($0 budget masks are a pain in the butt). I probably could have made it better, but time constraints, and I probably could have made it cheaper/with less toxic chemicals (which I'm looking into for the future, such as water putty, and please leave a comment if you have any experience or ideas!). But, again, overall, I really like this piece, and I got a lot of compliments while wearing it (even though no one knew what it was from, and people thought it was anbu mask, but I digress). Anyway, I hope you liked it, and keep your eye out for future instructables!