Instructables

Plague doctor mask for Halloween.

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Picture of Plague doctor mask for Halloween.
Here are the instructions for my plague doctor mask for Halloween.
The principles of this method can easily be adapted to make other designs of mask.


A Black Death Plague doctor
(Italian: Medico Della Peste, Dutch: Pestmeester, German: Pestarzt)
was a special medical physician who saw those who had the plague.
The beaks of the masks would have been filled with aromatic herbs, this was designed to protect the wearer from putrid air, which at the time was thought to be the cause of infection.
So it was a sort of early version of a bio-hazard mask.


This instructable is for the mask only, to complete the Plague Doctor costume you should add a long coat
with a hood or wide brimmed hat.


 
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Step 1: Making the mask - step one - materials

Picture of Making the mask - step one - materials
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The things you need to start are a roll of cling film food wrap and a roll of gummed brown paper tape and a bowl of water.
You will also need either a mirror so you can see what you are doing, or a friend to help you.
Cut the tape into short strips ranging from 75mm to 150mm
For the next two steps you have to hope that you do not have any unexpected visitors.
You now need to wrap your head in cling film, preferably leaving your eyes mouth and nose clear but making sure that your hair is covered.

That done you can start sticking the gummed tape to your head.
Take one strip at a time and wet it in the water and apply to your cling film covered head.
Build up about three layers of overlapping strips.
You should end up with a mask with just your eyes, nose and mouth clear.
Now you have to let it dry - I found that in a warm room it takes about half an hour to become dry enough to remove.
It will still not be dry enough to work on so put it in a warm place for about an hour.
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twashmon9 months ago
i finished mine, but i had to improvise.... alot.
i ended up making it with masking tape, unfortunately i could not find the tape you suggested at the time of night i was making it, also, the masking tape did not hold up, i would not suggest any of you try it lmao, i had to go over it with duct tape, it was very flimsy like you had said it would be, i ended up grabbing some cheap sunglasses and popped the lenses out and shaped them with a dremal to make my goggles, i used elastic as well, also added elastic to the back and stapled some velcro onto it for a good hold.
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twashmon9 months ago
do you know if duct tape will work, or is that a bad idea?
yellowcatt (author)  twashmon9 months ago
Not sure, duct tape would give a more flexible mask. The gummed tape, when it is built up to several layers is quite ridged. Duct tape would have the advantage of being quicker to work with as you would not have to wait for it to dry before adding another layer.
thanks alot for all the info, i appreciate it :)
jeoncs9 months ago
I've worked with fiberglass resin and this would work pretty decent for a base and then sand it down. After that you'd be able to apply bondo and really get a nice finished product. I love the gummed tape idea though. I used to use cardboard and paper mache but I think I am going to give this a whirl.
jbrauer9 months ago
You should sell those on etsy. That design has really good proportions, and a nice creep factor. Looks very close to the original in the old woodcut.

I did better last year, but I've sold a few plague doctor masks this year.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/112561649/plague-doctor-mask-in-latex


twashmon9 months ago
i wonder if you can cover the finished product in bondo and sand it down for a smoother look, i dont know how it would adhere to the product though, nor do i know how well the paint would hold up without using spray paint.
yellowcatt (author)  twashmon9 months ago
I think the best thing would be to try something smaller with the products first as a test piece to make sure that they are all compatible.

A friend did make a helmet using a body filler like bondo, It worked well and looked very good, it was quite heavy though compared to to the gummed tape construction.
freepancho10 months ago
This is really awesome! But (and I'm not sure if this is true) I think that plague doctors put red glass in the eye slots. But awesome project, very cool!
yellowcatt (author)  freepancho10 months ago
Thank you. You are correct that the actual plague doctors would probably have had glass to protect their eyes, not sure about it being red though.
I'll look into it further, but i'm definitely using this for halloween!
yellowcatt (author)  freepancho10 months ago
I hope it works well for you.
Unfortunately for me other commitments will probably prevent me going to any Halloween events this year.
cortchops10 months ago
thank for the help i made this one last year and it was fun, plus i got to scare some people.
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Ellinga1 year ago
Would masking tape be ok?
ethorstenn1 year ago
The first thing i thought when I saw this mask was if I take off the nose and make the right adjustments i would have a combine (civil protection) mask from Half-Life 2
yellowcatt (author)  ethorstenn1 year ago
I see what you mean, the construction technique is easily adaptable.
For that I would build up the shape for the mask in modelling clay, cover that in the cling film wrap and apply the gummed tape.
yellowcatt (author) 1 year ago
Posting the correct episode link this time:
This Week in Microbiology episode #45
yellowcatt (author) 1 year ago
A bit of shameless self promotion.
A picture of my mask has been used for the episode picture for this weeks edition of the This Week in Microbiology pocdast;
http://www.microbeworld.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=107&Itemid=275

They also give a link back to this Instructable.
aresw1 year ago
this was an awesome idea, you save this year hahaha

I had to improvise a little but the end result was really good
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yellowcatt (author)  aresw1 year ago
Excellent work.
linrodann1 year ago
Fantastic technique! I can't wait to try it. :)
yellowcatt (author)  linrodann1 year ago
Thanks, this was the first time is a few years that I have made any masks.
In the 1980's I made some masks for a theatre group and several for some friends who were going to a science fiction convention.
Unfortunately the masks have long gone and I have no photographs of them.
A friend who is an accomplished artist and at the time was working as a theatrical props man improved on my technique and made some really beautifully finished character masks.
cortchops1 year ago
i was wondering how much tape did you use? like how big was the roll?
yellowcatt (author)  cortchops1 year ago
I did not actually check how much gummed tape I used for this but I think that it would be less than 10 meters of 50mm wide tape, that was making several layers to make a very tough mask.

The rolls of tape are about £6.00 for a 200m roll.
I have a roll that I use for sealing the backs of picture frames.
Unless you are near an art/picture framing supplies shop I think that getting it from ebay is the best option:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_nkw=gummed+paper+tape&_sacat=0&_odkw=gummed+paper&_osacat=0&_from=R40

thanks. And i'm gonna get the gummed tape at staples, I saw some there about a month ago.
yellowcatt (author) 1 year ago
Here is another mask, I think the method is too similar to warrant a separate instructable. The only difference is that I formed the face in Plasticine, coated that in cling film and the gummed tape.
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Oh, I think every awesome project deserves its own Instructable :D You can always do a Photo Instructable and reference other Instructables that used the techniques you used!
How sturdy is this? Say, would it survive long periods in the closet? The materials are pretty affordable so I'm quite interested.
yellowcatt (author)  MissouriVillian1 year ago
I don't foresee any problems with durability, so long as it is kept dry then it should last very well.

I have been working on a couple of other masks, I hope to put those up tomorrow.
Where did you get the aluminium mesh for the eyes? I'd really love to know.
yellowcatt (author)  drawingdiego1 year ago
The aluminium mesh came from a car spares and repairs shop. It is used with car body filler, bridging compound and glass fibre kits to provide reinforcement.
A 25cm x 20cm sheet costs a couple of pounds:

http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_storeId_10001_catalogId_10151_productId_189682_langId_-1_categoryId_165625

Thank you very much! I've been looking for that type of mesh for a while now!
maboy1 year ago
Cool! However you with your head wrapped in plastic is scary enough don't you think?
yellowcatt (author)  maboy1 year ago
HAha yes.
I did wonder about including that picture.
Strangely enough, this kinda reminds me of Spy vs Spy.

Nice Job, by the way!
That is very cool! Do you think it would work to do the beginning tape part and cover your eyes too?
yellowcatt (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
If you had someone helping you then yes you could, I was working alone so I needed to keep my eyes clear to see what I was doing.
It is important to cover any part of your skin that is going to have tape on it with the cling film, the gummed tape is very sticky and would be difficult to remove without the cling film.

I should have mentioned that you can get the gummed tape from picture framing suppliers
Thanks! Where to get the tape was actually going to be my second question :)
yellowcatt (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
This is where I got mine from:
http://www.lionpic.co.uk/product/%27G%27-BROWN-TAPE-GUMMED-48mm-x-66m-3--75mm-Core--1,8227,1653.aspx

But I see it is available from ebay:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-Roll-Brown-Gummed-Paper-Packing-Tape-50mmx200m-/140849060806?pt=UK_Packaging_Materials&hash=item20cb421bc6
Awesome dude your shore 2 win!
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