Introduction: Bird Mask

I had to make 3 parrot masks for Halloween this year, so I thought I'd make an Instructable since I had to pretty much come up with this on my own: there are a couple of similar masks on, but otherwise not a lot of ideas out there.. Here goes! hope you can use this as a springboard for your brilliant ideas!

Step 1: Begin With Modeling Magic

First you need:
a nice mask - one that is sturdy enough to hold some weight, and takes hot glue (about $3.00 at the craft store - the cheaper ones are probably too flimsy for this project)
Modeling Magic. It's from the craft store as well. It comes in colors, but I spray painted mine for a nice finish
hot glue and glue gun
felt in favorite colors (brights for parrots, black for crows, browns and greys for owls)
surface to work on
something like a rolling pin to use while clay is drying.

FIrst, roll out the modeling magic to about 1/4" thick - thick enough to be able to mold it nicely without cracking, but not so thick that it adds too much extra weight. If you've never worked with Modeling Magic, it is a lightweight material that air dries after 24 hours. Pretty nice to work with.

Shape the Modeling magic into a roughly triangulated shape. I think it looks like a manta ray. The Modeling Magic is very pliable, but it is NOT easy to ADD material too without creating lines. If you make a big mistake, just roll out another piece and start again. I rolled out a piece that was too large (about 6" wide by 8" long) so that I could cut back rather than add to.

take the manta ray, and fold it in half. Pinch the fold together, then open it back up. This will give you a rather "parrot-like" ridge on the beak.

If you need to make more than one, like I did, you can also put the clay on top of another piece to use as a pattern and cut it out. You can use a knife or scissors. Scissors seem to work nicely on this stuff.

Step 2: Now Comes the Fun Part...

So now you rely on your creative instincts to create the beak shape. I looked at birds, both live and www. Parrots have a very curved beak, but i also didn't want to make them completely thin (as a real bird's would be) but to have a bit more of a cartoon like look, so i made them a bit wider at the bottom. Either way, you need to make the clay have really solid "hinges" or flanges at the sides that will allow it to be glued securely to the mask. The beak also had to go higher than the eyes, so I had to secure it to the mask at the forehead area.

This is all done with your hands - molding and shaping and stretching. And testing it on the mask. I Taped it down securely and did a lot of the final shaping. I also tore up some paper toweling and stuffed it in the beak to help it keep the shape while it was drying for 24 hours. I first put them around a rolling pin for about 6 hours, then left them to dry on a box of the correct height. I kept the beaks attached to the mask because I was afraid if I took them off they would loose the shape. or shrink up.

I also worked into the design the top part of the beak - on future photos you will see they don't match and are crooked, but that doesn't matter because you will cover all that up with "feathers". What matters is that you have enough extra to glue it securely to the mask.

While the clay is still wet, you want to try to get the shape finalized, ie: cut around the eyeholes. You can try the mask on at any point to help you make your decisions.

Step 3: What Not to Do..

Here's a couple of things you really want to be aware of:
1. make sure the beak is straight from all sides, even the bottom!
2. make sure you can see out of the mask!
3. When rolling, the clay will get kind of pitted - it is ok. The slightly irregular surface makes it look more realistic, believe it or not. Plus, if you paint it black like I did, you can't even see it..

Step 4: Dry and Paint and Glue

I propped the beaks, with the masks taped, to dry for 24 hours.

Then I took them off the masks and spray painted them with black matte finish spray paint. The first coat really soaked in and looked bad.. give it a few coats and it will look fine.

BEFORE you glue the beaks down to the mask you can cut the nose piece out a bit for comfort. I did this after I had glued them in. The advantage to this is the structural integrity is kept since everything is glued on. The disadvantage is, it makes it difficult to cut the mask. You decide: just make the mask comfortable to wear! (You can see the difference in the nose area in the last photo.)

Then you can hot glue the beaks on. Now you're ready for the felt!

Step 5: Now the Fun REALLY Begins..

Well of course this is the part you've been waiting for!

I had a friend help me cut the feathers (since I had 3 to make) but it didn't take that long. The hardest part here is starting: it's scary to commit with hot glue!

Try and run the hot glue line at the base of the "feathers" so they can have some movement and stick up a bit or if you need to add extra feathers (like I did).

Put the glue on the mask, not the felt feather. That way, there's less chance of the glue showing. Although, if you have thick enough felt that shouldn't be a problem.

Start at the top, center - the forehead - and work out both ways and around. Definitely do the first layer all around the edge. Make sure the feathers go beyond the edge and overlap a bit. work into the mask, ending at the eyes and nose

Stagger the feathers between rows

I cut a couple of extra pieces: the eye liners serve 2 purposes: they make the eyes look more like a parrot, and they finish the edge around the eyes. I also cut a small arch that matches the eye liners and placed it at the top of the beak. This defines that extra bit, and also covers the rough edges of both the feathers and the clay. I also tested the eyes in place a few times before adding any of the feathers to make sure you could see out of the mask and also that they looked parrot-y. I used different colors to go with different color schemed parrots.

Step 6: Viola! Polly Wants a Cracker!

End product.. .looks pretty nice I think for a first time.

Hope you enjoy it and can use it for your own wonderful creation.

oh..and don't forget to clean up your mess before mom sees it!