Introduction: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You will need a piece the same size as your mask.
Price I have no idea about.
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.
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.
This is used to smooth the fiberglass out.
Step 3: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make sure your Plaster mold is clean.
Before you start:
Put on long sleeves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."