I am legally blind so I have been looking for a hobby that will allow me to have fun making practical and fun projects with my limited vision. I happen to come across Tandy's website and leatherworking sounded like something I could do even with limited vision, it just meant I would have to make a few minor adjustments when it came to some steps. So I bought myself a shoulder side of veg tanned leather, the basic stamping tools, some punches, and a few other tools and away I went!
Last week the instructable contest popped up on my Twitter feed and the masquerade mask idea was born. So if you are looking for a great project that allows you to show off your leatherworking skills along with your creativity....grab up your leather and follow me on how to make this great mask!
Step 1: Gathering Up Materials & Tools
Round Knife (I dont have one so I used a rotary cutter & utility knife)
Various stamps (I just used a beveling stamp & veiner)
Pen or Pencil
Hot glue gun
Mannequin Head (you dont need this but you will need something to help you when wet forming the mask to help it hold its shape)
Paint (I used Eco-Flo Black Stain, White Cova Color, and teal coloring)
Various decorative supplies of your coice (I chose to use feathers, flowers, strings of pearls, a costume diamond pendant, & black tooling)
Ribbon (used to tie the mask to your head)
Hot glue sticks
Water (used for wet forming and wetting the leather to allow you stamp impressions)
Step 2: Choosing & Tracing Pattern
2-Cut the pattern out.
3-Then select the leather you want to use. (I only had 8 oz leather on hand so thats what I used but you can use light weight leather too).
4-Place your paper pattern on the leather and trace around it with a pen. (I did trace the pattern on the back just because I had to make the lines thicker in order to be able to see them).
Step 3: Cutting Leather
Step 4: Tracing & Cutting Eye Holes
You can use several different tools to do this including a regular ball point pen, a leather scribe, or what I did. Because I have a hard time seeing the indentions in the leather I use a piece of carbon copy paper since it leaves a nice thick black line.
2-Once you have the eyes holes traced onto the leather you can begin cutting them out. I used a utility knife for this. I made a cross in the hole and then cut the leather out piece by piece.
Step 5: Beveling the Edges
I plan to buy a standard beveler from Tandy in size #2. I have heard that is the best one to use for most weights of leather so it is very universal.
You can also elect not to use a beveler and instead use a burnisher. They have a few choices available to you from the hand burnisher to a burnisher that attaches to a dremel tool, or you can invest in one that connects to your drill press. Which ever one you chose will be fine as long as all the edges are round off.
Step 6: Transferring Your Design
1-You need to begin by casing you leather in order to accept the design lines into the leather. To do this grab your bowl of water and a sponge.
2-Dip your sponge into the water and squeeze out the excess water. You want your leather wet enough b to accept and hold the indentions but not so wet that ones you trace your lines they dont hold. So I normally go over my leather with the sponge 3 times, dipping the sponge into the water each time. Dont forget to squeeze the sponge out otherwise you will be applying way to much water.
3-Wait for the leather to almost return to it's natural color. Now you can place your pattern over the leather and begin tracing the design you have chosen. (I place my paper pattern into a clear plastic folder so that the wet leather does not tear while I am tracing over the lines) but you do not have to do this.
4-Now begin tracing your pattern onto the leather with a leather scribe. If you do not have a scribe a ball point pen will work too. As you are tracing make sure you are applying enough pressure with the scribe to leave indentions on the leather.
5-Periodically lift a small portion of your pattern to ensure that indentions are being left on the leather. If not just apply a bit more pressure while tracing over all the lines. Now onto the next step!
Step 7: Cutting and Stamping
1-Begin by ensuring that your leather is still wet enough before you begin cutting. If not grab your sponge again and apply a little more water to the leather.
2-Now grab your swivel knife and begin cutting all the lines you just traced onto the mask. Take your time if you are new to working with a swivel knife. It does take lots of practice to use a swivel knife proficiently but practice makes perfect!
3-Once all your lines have been cut you are ready to grab some stamping tools and a mallet and begin the stamping process.
4-For this mask I mainly used a beveling stamp because I wanted to be able to apply glue in the grooves that the beveling stamp will make.
5-So start by putting your stamp into your cuts and tap your mallet until you achieve the depth you want moving the stamp along your cuts slowly while continuing to tap your mallet. Do this in all the lines.
Step 8: Painting the Mask
1-I began by mixing my paint in order to achieve the silver I wanted.Now I kinda cheated here because I didnt have an actually silver paint but I did have some silver pearl dust. So I grabbed my paint tray and added my Eco-Flo Cova color in white and then added the pearl dust to it and it came out with a great silver with a high shimmer, which I love!
2- Paint half of your mask with the silver and then get ready for the teal.
3-Here again I didnt have teal paint but I did have some food coloring in teal. So again I added my cova white paint into my tray and then added several drops of the teal coloring and because I loved that shimmer from the silver color I decided to add some pearl dust to the teal also. Mixed it all up and painted the other half the teal.
4-Now you will need to set your mask to the side for several hours to dry.
Step 9: Wet Forming Your Mask
1-Soak your leather in some water. It doesnt need to be very long so just run the piece of leather under some faucet water until you can move it easily.
2-In order to get the general shape of the face I pressed the piece up to my face focusing on making sure it formed around my nose. And then I bent the piece around the sides of my face.
3-I placed the piece on a mannequin head that I happen to have from other projects. I realize most people will probably not have this so one idea I thought about was placing a small pill bottle where your nose will be and gently shape it. The bottle is just to make sure it holds the form. You could also use a thick dowel rod.
4-Now it's just a matter of waiting for the piece to dry. I periodically checked on it and gave the leather a little adjuatment here and there. I let the piece dry overnight so 8 to 10 hours.
P.S. I am sorry these 2 pictures are so dark. I was tired and forgot to turn my lamp on.
Step 10: Gathering Your Embellishments to Decorate
Materials I used:
Gold leaf sheets (can be bought at any craft store like Hobby Lobby or Joanns Fabrics)
Strings of pearls
Step 11: Adding Gold Leaf
1-Take your sticky tack glue and squeeze into all of the beveled grooves that we made earlier. Make sure you fill the grooves completely to where the glue is leaving a nice even bead.
2-Now we wait for the glue to dry almost completely. I waited about 45 minutes and when the glue was almost clear it was ready. The glue needs to still have a tiny bit of stickiness.
3-Now carefully removed a sheet of gold leaf from the package with a paint brush. Again this stuff is very thin and a little difficult to handle at first. The best way I found was to pick up a corner of the sheet and carefully tear a section off.
4-Place a piece of the gold over the area you glued and gently tap it down with your paint brush. You will find as you go after you place a piece and pat it with the brush that small pieces that did not stick to the glue will crumble and be easy to remove from the mask. Continue to do this until all glued areas are covered with the gold leaf.
Step 12: Finishing the Decorating
Step 13: Finishing the Mask
1-Simply put the mask back up to your face and feel where the mask lays around your temple area. Mark with your finger.
2- Now grab your hole punch and mallet and punch 1 hole on each side at the temple area. (I used a larger punch because I wanted to add several pieces of ribbon).
3-Cut 2 strips of ribbon long enough to be able to tie together when you put the mask on. (I measured from my temple to back of my head then added 6 inches, for each pieace)
4-Now just simply run the ribbon through the holes and tie so it stays on the mask.
I added several shorter pieces of ribbon on one side you for a bit of extra decoration but you dont have to.