Introduction: Making a Mask Out of Fiberglass-Resin.

Picture of Making a Mask Out of Fiberglass-Resin.

As the title says, I'm going to do a step by step (With photos) of the process of molding and casting a custom made mask out of Fiberglass-Resin.
Before I start let me hang a few disclaimers over this entire walkthrough:
Firstly: This will be pretty pricey, I'll do a rundown of costs in the next step.
Secondly: You can hurt yourself while doing this. Please, for the love of god, be careful. Especially with Fiberglass Resin.. That stuff is toxic. If you are going to do this, make sure you have a respirator with Gas filter attachments (You can get gas or dust filters). If you don't, you will come out of this queasy and with a splitting sore headache. I learned that the unpleasant way.
Thirdly: Be patient when doing this. You probably wont get this done overnight, it will take a few days. Just have fun.

The aim of this is to try give as much detail as I can, including what worked for me, and things I discovered while making the example mask. Anything written in Italics is a note I'm putting in to try prevent you making the same mistakes I did.

I'm also new to this site, so if anyone has any advice at making this better formatted and such, please feel free to let me know.

Most of the pics in this are annotated, please enlarge them for more information.
Sorry some of the pics are the wrong orientation. They work fine on my PC but are flipped when I upload them for some reason.
If anyone knows how to fix this, do tell.

Step 1: VERY IMPORTANT.

Picture of VERY IMPORTANT.

Make sure you have one of these if you'll be working with Resin.

  • When you wear it, it should be completely airtight against your face. Any air coming in must go through the filters and exit by a valve somewhere on it.

It is a polyester resin and it's seriously bad for you. I made the mistake of making a mask without proper breathing apparatus, and I almost passed out from the resulting headache. It's very unpleasant, and it messes with your lungs.

  • Work in a well ventilated area, outside if possible.
  • Always use a respirator, with cartridges to filter organic gas. Don't get dust filters, they'll do f*ck all. Make 100% sure the filters are for gas (It usually says on the cartridge what it filters out). Use Latex gloves and long sleeves. You don't want to be breathing in resin, you don't want to be touching resin, you want as little contact with the resin as possible.
  • Your filters will run out eventually. You'll know they need replacing when you can barely breathe through them.
  • To tell if it's being worn correctly, you should be able to feel no air whatsoever around the edges. I test it by covering the filters with my hands or some card, and taking a big breath. Well attempting to, if the filters are entirely covered, you wont be able to breath. If you try this and you get air in, you have a hole somewhere you need to fix. Usually by adjusting or tightening your mask.
  • NEVER work with Fiberglass resin or mat bare handed. I have and it was awful. Your hands will come out of it covered in tiny red pricks, that will sting for days.
  • If you can't afford the right protection when making this, DO NOT DO IT UNTIL YOU CAN. I will not be held responsible for anyone being as thick as I was and just diving into it.

Step 2: Materials Needed.

Picture of Materials Needed.

You'll need a few things for this, I'm not sure how much it will cost in whatever currency you'll be using, so I'll use what I spent on it and take it as a rough guideline.

CURRENCY IS IN ZA RAND.

Clay: Either oil or water based. 
I used Whitestone with Grog.
A 10kg bag cost me R50. It's reusable though.

Sculpting tools.
These aren't imperative, but they do make it easier.
You can pick these up fairly cheaply, mine was R14.
I use wooden tools. Metal ones are a lot more pricey.

Brushes.
These will serve 2 parts, so I suggest getting several.
Firstly they will be helpful for molding the clay. They will also be used to apply the Fiberglass-resin, but they will be unusable afterwards.
I had a few lying around, but I was able to get a pack of 5 for R60.
Three uses if you're not going to be using Spray paint.

Plaster bandages.
I have no idea how much these cost, I managed to grab a roll for free. 
These will be used to make a rough template of your face so it will fit you.

Alternatively, you can buy a white plastic mask which cost me around R12.
Or a model head, which cost R30.

Plaster of Paris powder.
You'll need about 2000g of the stuff, I bought 4 bags of 500g at R10 per bag, so about R40 in total.

Fiberglass-resin.
This I have no idea how much it will cost you, but it will be a fair amount.
I bought a 5l tub for something like R200.
But you can get small tubs for:
R60 for the Resin.
R35 for the Mat.
R7 - 20 for the Hardening catalyst. 

Paints. 
You can use any kind of paint, I'm using Enamel paint. Spray paint is another good one to use.
Enamel paints I got for free, the spray paint was R50 per can.

Paste finishing Wax
I wasn't able to get any of this stuff, but you will need it if you plan on keeping the mold. Also it makes cleaning a lot easier.
I found something called Fiberglass releasing agent, which cost R57.40, which I'm sure will work as well.

Crystal lacquer spray.
A brand a lot of people seem to use is something called Crystal clear, but you don't get that here.
What you're looking for is an enamel gloss.
Price was R40 for a can for me.

Burlap/Hessian.
You will need a piece the same size as your mask.
Price I have no idea about. 

Latex gloves.
You'll go through about 4 pairs during the Fiberglassing process, so maybe pickup a bag of about 150ish
Again price I'm unsure about since I had them lying around.
I could get a box of 100 for R100. Or I can buy a single pair for R4.

Respirator.
This is important. The Fiberglass resin releases noxious fumes, so you have to wear one of these while working with it.
Price was R107 + 65 for canisters.
You will need to buy the canisters designed to filter gas, not dust.

Sand paper.
This is used to smooth the fiberglass out.


Step 3: Making a Face Template.

Picture of Making a Face Template.

If you are using a mask or head sculpture skip this step.


This is a very simple thing to do; Simply wet a square of the bandage. Try size it about 5 x 5 cm, and stick it onto your face.

Tie your hair back if you have long hair.

Repeat until your entire face is covered, including your eyes, nose and mouth (Poke small nose holes so you can breathe). Then allow it 10-20 mins to dry.

After it is dry, slowly, take it off your face, taking care not to break it.


Step 4: Starting the Clay Sculpture.

Picture of Starting the Clay Sculpture.

As the title states, you will now be building your mask from Clay.

Get reference pics of your mask if you need to.

Start buy putting clay under the template and smoothing it out. Then follow by adding more clay on-top of the template. 

Next, simply mold the clay into the shape of the mask you are creating.
Be patient and thorough, as what you sculpt is what the final result will look like!

To work with water based clay:
Make sure it stays cold and damp.
Add water to it if you need to soften it. 
Put a damn cloth over the clay when not working with it to keep it wet.
Use a wet sponge to smooth it out. The wetter it is, the softer it is.

Oil based-
Heat it up to soften it, 
I haven't used Oil based clay yet, so I'm not sure how to work effectively with it. 


Step 5: Making the Plaster-Paris Mold.

Picture of Making the Plaster-Paris Mold.

Firstly spray on a coat of your Crystal lacquer/crystal clear gloss. Let it dry, then add a second layer, just to be safe.

Next, taking spare clay, build a platform and wall around the mask, to stop the plaster from running everywhere and sticking to the desk.

After this is done, mix up a fairly weak bowl of Plaster of paris;
Add 250ml water to 250ml plaster as a rough measurement.
Pour this over the clay, using a brush to push it into all the little gaps if any are missed. 

Allow 24 hours for it to dry.
24 hours is only if you want it completely dry. One to two hours should also work if you're impatient. :P

Next take your Burlap/hessian sack, and cut it up into squares of about 4x4.

Next, mix up a batch of stronger plaster, using 200ml water to 250ml plaster of Paris, keeping adding the plaster until an island forms, then mix it until smooth. 

Dip a square of Burlap/Hessian into the plaster, then stick it into the top layer of the Plaster of Paris mask. Repeat until the entire mask is covered in the plaster-burlap mix. 

Pour whatever plaster is left over the burlap coating, 

While it is drying, mix up a third batch of Plaster of Paris, using the same measurement of 200ml water to 250nl plaster, again adding until an island forms and smoothing out. Let it sot for 5-10 mins to set slightly, then pour it over the Burlap/Hessian coating. Make sure everything is covered.

Allow 24 hours to dry.
Again, 24 hours is for completely dry. One to two hours should work.

Step 6: Making the Plaster-Paris Mold Continued.

Picture of Making the Plaster-Paris Mold Continued.

After everything is dry, slowly start to break away the wall.

Once the wall is removed, slowly pry the clay platform and mask off of the table and turn it upside down, putting it on something padded if needed (I used a towel).

Slowly start to pull the clay out. Be very very careful, if the mold breaks, you have to start again.
Once the clay is removed, clean out any small bits of clay.

Your clay sculpture should be pretty badly damaged now.

If you want to reuse the clay:
Break off any bits of plaster that are stuck in, and try clean out as much as you can. Also wash off the gloss. This will also soften the clay again (If using water based).

Step 7: Fiberglassing.

Picture of Fiberglassing.

Make sure your Plaster mold is clean.

Before you start:
Put on long sleeves.
Gloves.
Face protection (Respirator)
Work in a well ventilated area.
Put paper down to cover your desk, this stuff is very sticky.
Wear old clothes, this is very messy work.

If you have never worked with Fiberglass before, I suggest mixing up a small batch and sticking it on somewhere, just to experience the texture of it.

The fiberglass will come with mixing instructions. Follow those or it won't harden properly.

Apply the Paste finishing Wax on the inside of the plaster bowl. Do 3 layers.
Buff out the first two, then simply paint on the third.

Next; mix up a batch of Resin in a small cup, using half a cup of resin, and half a cup of bonding paste. Add the catalyst, and pour it into the mold. Spread it out to make sure it's an even layer.
If you don't have bonding paste, I didn't, use a full cup of resin and coat the inside of the mold with it. Again make sure you have added the catalyst.

Then mix up a small cup of just resin.

After that. rip off a square of the Fiberglass mat, size shouldn't mater, and stick it down onto the bonding paste + resin layer and paint it on, using the resin.

Do that for the whole mask, then let it dry.

Repeat the process 2 - 3 times, depending on how many layers you want.

I found it best to immediately start the next layer of mat ontop of the previous layers. It helped it stick better .


The resin is very sticky and difficult to apply. I found sticking the edges of the mat first, using a stabbing type motion to be most effective.


Give the resin ~24 hours to dry if you want it to be 100% dry. I normally left it for an hour or so, since it cures in about 20 minutes after mixing. But if you want to be certain it wont shatter, give it a full 24 hours.


If the layer you put into the plaster is improperly mixed, you'll have problems getting the mask out of the mold, meaning you'll have to break it, using a small hammer and a lot of patience. You'll find a lot of the mat will peel away from the overall shape on the surface, and it will feel kinda spongy. To fix this, mix a very strong amount of Resin + Catalyst, and paint everything into shape.

Step 8: Removing the Fiberglass Mask From the Mold.

Picture of Removing the Fiberglass Mask From the Mold.

If you have used Paste finishing wax, simply use a flathead screwdriver, or something similar, and pry the Fiberglass mask out of the mold. Be careful not to damage the mold.

If you haven't used any, you'll have to slowly break the mold away from the mask. This is very very messy.

Step 9: Cleaning the Mask.

Picture of Cleaning the Mask.

You're almost done!

Next you'll have to clean out the mask. Use a screwdriver, sandpaper, drill etc, to smooth down any bumps dig out any left over plaster dust, and open every hole in the mask.

Your mask colour will depend on your fiberglass. Mine is a lovely snot green colour, but yours might be fabulous pink or bright orange. 

If you haven't used paste wax and  you have a lot of plaster dust stuck on the mask. Put it in a bucket of lukewarm water for an hour or 2, don't worry, the Fiberglass is waterproof. This will dissolve and soften a lot of the plaster, making it very easy to remove.

If you have any cracks in the mask, you can apply a small layer of fiberglass resin and mat over it to fill it in. 

Step 10: Filling in Cracks.

Picture of Filling in Cracks.

If you have any cracks on your mask and want to fill them in, take small pieces of Fiberglass mat, and a small amount of Resin, and stick it onto the crack, do a few layers.
Don't wait for it to dry in between layers, just keep adding until it's thick enough to your liking.

You shouldn't have any cracks if you are using new resin and hardener. My resin and hardener was old and had more or less expired which is why my mask came out a bit cracked. The teeth were also fairly broken so I had to rebuild each of them using a Body filler.

Step 11: Painting.

Picture of Painting.

Pretty self explanatory. I used a combination of Spray paint, enamel paint and Acrylic paint to paint mine. Just take your time and enjoy.

If you want to put designs onto the mask, cut them out of paper, and apply them using very weak glue (Easytak for example). Paint over them, then very slowly remove them.

Step 12: Finalizing.

Picture of Finalizing.

Straps
For the straps, I used Velcro pieces. I drilled a hole in the sides and top of the mask, drilled holes in the Velcro, then used a Nut and Bolt to attach the Velcro at the 3 points, then sawed the bolt down to size.
To attach the Velcro, I stuck 2 pieces together, just at the halfway point, brought the top part down, then connected the rest of the Velcro.

Using Velcro is tricky to attach it the first time, but after it's been set to the size of your head you can simply slip the mask on and off without having to attach it every time.

I used self adhesive foam to attach it and I recommend this. If not, use a strong glue to attach it. Though be careful, it might cause the foam to go brittle.

Step 13: Other Stuff.

Videos that helped me.
Pubert55

IndyMogul

If anyone has any tips on how I can improve this let me know.
Also let me know what worked for you and what didn't, I'm always looking for new and easier ways to do things.
If you didn't understand any part/s of this let me know, I might have phrased it badly.

Step 14: Comments.

Here's some comments from people that have tried this. It's handy to see how the experience was for others.

Also some Q&A from the comments.

____________________________________________________

"Thanks :) Quite a lot of my clay got stuck in the mould because i laid the clay on too thin in the first place.

As for the mesh I bought it from the car body repair section in a DIY store for about £1.30 (its made of aluminium so is really easy to cut to shape), I then used epoxy glue to cement it in place. I bought the powder here: www.solarcolordust.com. I used a scoop that came with a packet of plant food to measure so I'm not entirely sure on quantities. I just mixed until I found a colour I liked. Hope this helped

Oh and I forgot to add I had to spray paint the mesh black before I glued it in"

Posted by bwebby

____________________________________________________

"are these masks safe to wear for long periods of time?"

Posted by ATTANO101

"Yup. Once the resin has dried it's fine. It's just while it's curing it's bad for you.

After it's cured and painted and all, you could wear it all day if you were so inclined to do so.

Sorry forgot to mention; Don't wear it the moment it's all cured. Give it a day or so to completely dry. After you can't smell the resin, it's completely cured. If you let it go hard then stick it on your face, yes that is bad for you. Give it a day after casting it in resin to dry, then paint it and give the paint a few hours / a day to dry, and you should be fine."


____________________________________________________

Comments

bwebby made it! (author)2014-08-30

Thanks for the intructable! Following what you wrote I made my own (although I didn't follow them by the letter which I regretted later ;) ) I added mesh for the eyes and mixed glow in the dark pigment powder with epoxy resin for added effect. Thanks again!

DecapitatingJim (author)bwebby2014-08-30

Nicely done, it looks pretty badass.

What sort of problems came up for you? Also do you have any tips you can give me for the guide? I'm always looking to improve it.

Would you mind telling me how you installed the mesh and what sort of quantities you used for the glow in the dark pigment? I haven't had any experiences with those and would be happy to add it to the guide. Credit for the info would go to you of course.

bwebby (author)DecapitatingJim2014-08-30

Thanks :) Quite a lot of my clay got stuck in the mould because i laid the clay on too thin in the first place.

As for the mesh I bought it from the car body repair section in a DIY store for about £1.30 (its made of aluminium so is really easy to cut to shape), I then used epoxy glue to cement it in place.

I bought the powder here: www.solarcolordust.com. I used a scoop that came with a packet of plant food to measure so I'm not entirely sure on quantities. I just mixed until I found a colour I liked.

Hope this helped

bwebby (author)bwebby2014-08-30

Oh and I forgot to add I had to spray paint the mesh black before I glued it in

DecapitatingJim (author)bwebby2014-09-02

Cool. I added in a 13'th section with your comment.

OhmV (author)2015-12-11

I just finished pulling out the clay off the plaster. Apparently there are some problems such as my plaster is not thick enough so it cracked a bit and took me ages to get the clay and the foam out. I repaired the holes and broken bits with the clay and let it dry. You reckon this will still works when I pour in the fiberglass resin?

DecapitatingJim (author)OhmV2015-12-12

As long as it's not too badly damaged. Can't hurt to try, worst case scenario is you have to restart the thing.

OhmV (author)2015-12-08

I just finished the mouldings process for the clay. I'll put some plaster on later. This is the best I can do for Jiro's mask. Just wondering, what's the proportion of resin and body filler should I put in one cup?

DecapitatingJim (author)OhmV2015-12-08

I don't think I've ever used body filler so not entirely sure? You could try half 'n half and see if that works.

OhmV (author)2015-11-22

Quick question about the mold. I used water based clay and when I leafy it for a while, it goes hard.is there's anyway to prevent the clay from going solid hard while I wait for the plaster to dry?

DecapitatingJim (author)OhmV2015-11-23

It shouldn't matter if it goes hard while it has the plaster on it. But you can just put a damn cloth over it while you leave it. You just have to keep it cold n damp.

OhmV (author)2015-11-21

I planned to make Jiro mask. Since it got the spike on the chin and sides, I figured the way to get it out is to break the mold. So I don't mind taking my time to break it (I got all the time in the world:D). Any advice for making this mask?

DecapitatingJim (author)OhmV2015-11-22

Oof that's a complex one. Firstly take a very long time with the clay. It's got a lot going for it so don't rush it.

It might be best to make the spikes separate to the mask, then attach them afterwards. Those are the sorts of things that would break easily while ripping em from the mold. You can make em out of resin and all, just do it with a separate mold.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Frank-Costume-from-Donnie-Darko/#step5

That has a good bit of info on making spiky things and attaching them to a mask.

OhmV (author)2015-11-21

Hi, I recently read this post and wanted to start the project. Yes, I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants to make payday 2 mask. I bought the mat, resin and filler today. Yet I haven't bought the paste finishing wax due to god knows where to find it. I'll get the crystal spray enamels later. My question is, do I really need the paste finishing wax? If I don't use it, what will happened to the mold and the mask? And what could I use as an alternative options? Thanks you :)

DecapitatingJim (author)OhmV2015-11-21

You don't have to use it, and to be honest the crystal lacquer didn't actually do much.

If you don't use it what's gonna happen is the Fiberglass will stick to the Paris mold and it'll be a nightmare to remove. You'll have to slowly break away the paris with a hammer + chisel. It'll take a while, be messy, and you'll lose your mold so you wont be able to reuse it. You also might have one or two cracks on the mask you'll have to fill in. As long as you have some spare resin it's not a big deal.

The only alternate option I can think of is Fiberglass releasing agent. I haven't used it so I have no idea if it'll work, but from what I can tell it'll do the same thing. It should be pretty easy to find, just go to wherever you got the resin and ask about it.

ATTANO101 (author)2014-10-09

ok cool

ATTANO101 (author)2014-10-08

are these masks safe to wear for long periods of time?

Yup. Once the resin has dried it's fine. It's just while it's curing it's bad for you.

After it's cured and painted and all, you could wear it all day if you were so inclined to do so.

Sorry forgot to mention;

Don't wear it the moment it's all cured. Give it a day or so to completely dry. After you can't smell the resin, it's completely cured. If you let it go hard then stick it on your face, yes that is bad for you.

Give it a day after casting it in resin to dry, then paint it and give the paint a few hours / a day to dry, and you should be fine.

KingRyt (author)2014-07-08

resin is extremely dangerous though

DecapitatingJim (author)KingRyt2014-07-08

I did mention on page 2 that a respirator is needed, even saying that the resin releases noxious fumes. But yes, Resin isn't the sort of thing you want to be breathing in, so you will need a face respirator with filters for gas.

itsparadoxical (author)2013-10-23

What country do you live in? It is hard to do cost comparisons without knowing the base currency.

Added what my currency is to the second step. Thanks for the comment.

Africa, the currency I was using is ZA rand.

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