Introduction: Constructing Bastet

As promised, here is the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet, the companion costume to the Anubis costume (pictured) which you'll find here:
Constructing Anubis Instructable

Warning: the creation of this costume uses sharp tools and materials that are known to the state of California to cause cancer () and requires a moderate bit of safety precaution, common sense, a dash of creative license, and a large amount of patience. Please employ these skills in creating this costume.

Bastet took exactly two weeks to create in the evenings after work and weekends. I constructed the Bastet mask and my wife created the awesome gown of Bastet. In this instructable you'll see some details that weren't covered in detail in constructing Anubis; the methods are pretty much the same.

Materials For the Mask

This list is probably not complete, but most of what you'll need:

1 sheet of matte board approx. 24" X 30"
Several sheets of thick grade paper stock approx. 24" X 30"
1 roll of paper mache material
6 oz. air dry modeling putty
6 oz lightweight hobby putty or wood filler putty (spackling works well- do NOT use the latex spackling)
1 Worth brand face mask (see pic)
1 roll 3/4" painter's masking tape (get GOOD masking tape)
newspaper or other mask material
1 roll packaging or scotch tape
1 bottle Elmer's Max glue (NOT regular Elmer's)
1 bottle waterproof fabric glue
Small fiberglass auto repair kit (you'll only need an 8" X 8" piece or so)
1 can of high tack 3M trim adhesive (or tube, see "nose")
Acetone for cleanup
1 sheet 18 X 24 X 1" carvable Styrofoam
A small square (< 1 yard) of "stretchable" fabric
1 pair of gold reflective sunglasses, polycarbonate lenses
Black gloss, clear, and metallic gold spray paint
1 black cloth beanie
1 1/2" to 2" gold earring
1 cheap plastic colander with lots of divisions (see pic)
1 piece of flexible rubber or vinyl material
General hardware: pipe cleaners, small nuts and bolts, etc.
Optional: 1 12v computer CPU fan, 1 transistor battery

For the gown and embellishments:

2-3 yards of stretchy pleated polyester (see pics)
6-10 rolls of 1/4" gold ribbon (we used 9)
1 bottle waterproof fabric glue (same as above, the one bottle should do)
A small bit of gold material (< 1 yard, used the leftover from Anubis)
sheer black long sleeve blouse and gloves
Black tights, stockings, or socks
Gold colored or black slippers or shoes
A large necklace embellished with scarab beetles; the scarab beetle plays a big part in Egyptian mythology and is in all of the renderings of Bastet. See if you can find a suitable one at Zarifa's.
A sistrum (see pic.) These are usually custom made but you may be able to find one pre-made.
An ankh or Egyptian embellished mirror (Bastet is a cat, and hence, vain. :-) ) If you're wearing the costume anywhere, think ahead, you may just want the sistrum so you can keep one hand free.


pencils, eraser, black sharpie, T-square, triangles, french curves, metal ruler, flexible drawing curve, and other 2D "implements of destruction"
Utility knife
X-acto Knife
Dremel, moto tool, or other high speed hobby tool
Various files and carving tools (whatever you have)
120 g or finer sandpaper
Various sizes of spring clamps
Burnishing tool or butter knife
large pliers or channel lock pliers
Small paintbrushes
Lots of rubber bands, small bungee cords are helpful
Sewing machine (for the gown)
Soldering iron and solder (for the fan)

If you're a video learner, here you go, but the Instructible is far more detailed and helpful :-) Em Hotep!

Step 1: Sketch Out the Head for the Mask.

Needed for this step:
thick paper
matte board
Worth brand face mask
packing tape, scotch tape
Drawing tools and other implements of 2D destruction
utility knife
(optional) Bastet statues (you can work with images from the web)

One of the things I've been asked that is not clear in constructing Anubis is "do you have a pattern?" The answer is no. As to how I arrived at the original sketch, most artists will understand: you start drawing and react to what comes up.

Huh? :-) Fold the paper over your head so it's like you're looking out a tunnel, this will give you an idea of how big it needs to be. Add at least an inch and a half to each side for the mask, then mark the paper where you folded it. Set it on the face mask (below) to see how it fits. Measure this off and transfer your idea to a flat piece of paper, using the T square, ruler, and triangle to make sure it lays out symmetrical. You may have to take a couple shots at it, and keep putting it on your head to check for fit. This is why we use paper, it's a low cost material we can experiment with. You can see by the photos where those experiments led me.

Use a thicker card stock, preferably coated on one side. I have some left over "layout boards" from the days before digital printing. You want it stiff enough to hold up when folded, as we'll actually use this paper for some of the smaller pieces with this stock, but not so thick that it adds necessary weight or becomes difficult to shape into finer folds and creases.

Keep working with the original, folding and cutting it, revise as necessary. I find it's helpful to use a burnishing tool (see next step) to crease the folds so they go precisely where I need them to. You can use the smooth side of a butter knife for this purpose if you don't have one (or know what a burnishing tool is. :-) )

Once you have a model sketched out on paper, flatten it out and transfer it to a fresh sheet of paper (basically, do it again.) Don't rush past this step - if you don't, the folds will cause the foundation to be a little off in symmetry when you transfer to the matte board. I hate it when stuff doesn't "line up" and this would be the prime cause.

Cut this template out using utility a knife, then before shaping, immediately transfer the template to the thick matte board stock. You want to do this now while the fresh template is flat. Don't forget to mark the folds you created; I use dotted lines for folds and solid lines for cuts.

Step 2: Sketch Out the Ears and Jaw.

Needed for this step:
thick paper
packing tape, scotch tape
Drawing tools and other implements of 2D destruction
utility knife

Tape up the paper head template to the mask with two pieces of masking tape at the eyes and two at the back of the mask. Experiment with various shapes for ears, taping them to the head, locating the best shapes and strongest anchor points. For this mask, I only had to use matte board for the first two ear pieces, jaw, and the head, the rest is all thick paper stock.

Remember how I said "start drawing and react to what comes up?" Note the insides of the ears in this step. As you'll see, later I decided these inner ear shapes weren't so hot and looked too dog-like, so I changed them. You'll also notice the forward part of the nose changes a little - it was just too narrow, also making it look a little to dog-like. I fattened up the end of the nose before I cut the matte board.

Don't be afraid to react to what your creation shows you and change your plan on the fly.

Finish up by shaping two pieces for the eye sockets and taping them from the insides. Don't worry about the hard angles of our mask - we'll soften that up later. Check everything for symmetry, proper alignment, then take it all apart and begin working on the actual matte foundation.

Step 3: Shape Out the Matte Board.

Needed for this step:
matte board
masking tape
burnishing tool
utility knife
pipe cleaners
spring clamps, rubber bands
Elmer's Max glue

I mentioned I "fattened" the nose -transfer any changes to the matte board, then cut the head, jaw, and main ear pieces out of the matte board. If you look closely at the first pic, you can see both the "old" and "new" nose shape.

Use the burnishing tool to crease your folds, this is pretty important with this thick stock or it won't fold right and may even tear or delaminate.

First drill two holes where the "cheekbones" touch the mask and attach it firmly with two pipe cleaners. Before attaching the back part of the matte board to the face mask, pull the sides of the nose up to create the fold in the forehead, apply Elmer's max glue, and attach it firmly with the spring clamps.

If you have to, let this dry overnight before proceeding. It's important to plan your work sessions so you "finish" with a "let it dry" period. Elmer's Max is an awesome glue but it takes 4 hours to fully harden and if you move too quickly, things will pull on each other and fall apart, making a mess. Often you can clamp one part and work on another without pulling things apart - in this case, I clamped the nose, then glued and clamped the curve at the back of the head, then glued the first ear tabs on the top of the head (picture # 6.) I didn't curl the ears and glue them to the side of the head until the next morning, after the glue had dried.

When the first glues have dried, drill 4 holes at the back-sides of the head and attach the matte board to the face mask on each side with pipe cleaners, checking for symmetry. Twist them up good from the inside, then fold them back out of the way and trim off the excess, making sure the sharp ends are tucked safely out of the way.

Your mask and ears should feel pretty solid at this point. Test it, make sure everything still fits your head. You may feel the curve at the back of the mask touching the top of your head - this is OK, we can trim it out later.

Step 4: Shape Out the Ears and Jaw.

Needed for this step:
thick paper
masking tape
Elmer's Max glue
Drawing tools and other implements of 2D destruction
burnishing tool
utility knife
spring clamps, rubber bands

You should still have the paper pieces for the ears, but things may have changed a little with the matte board (or you may change your mind, as I did.) Continue experimenting with paper until you get the ears right, then glue them in, holding them in place with masking tape until the glue dries. You can use paper pieces here to reduce weight, but can use matte board if you want. The paper is easier to work.

I took the inner ears apart three times until I arrived at the final solution. :-) Failure is just another opportunity to improve.

The jaw doesn't need a strong bond, as we'll reinforce it in a later step. At this point it may look like it has a bit of an underbite - this is good, it gives us room to build and reinforce.

Step 5: Apply Foam to Shape Out the Mask.

Needed for this step:
Sheet of styrofoam
Elmer's Max Glue
rubber bands, small bungee cords
masking tape
spring clamps
fiberglas repair kit
utility knife
x-acto knife

When working with fiberglas, use rubber gloves and in an open ventilated area. Keep acetone handy for clean up.

Once you've got the paper all solid, we do two things at once (more or less:) apply foam over the entire head and a layer of fiberglas to the jaw to reinforce it. The reason for the fiberglas is if you need more breathing holes, you can cut through it and it will stay strong.

This is another example of working on "other areas" while we wait for something to dry. I got all the foam on the head, and rubber banded in place, then took it outside to apply the fiberglas while the foam glue was drying.

It helps to "pre-sculpt" the foam, but make sure you sculpt it thicker than you'll need. Be sure to "build up" at the edges of the sharp corners, and create cheekbones and a strong brow line.

While that's drying, cut two triangles of fiberglas for each side of the jaw, with a tiny overlap. Before mixing the resin, cut a small oval piece of styrofoam and tack it to the chin to give it a nice round kitty-chin shape. Flip the mask over and apply the fiberglas to the jaw, smoothing it out as best as possible.

At any point, add more styrofoam if needed, working it until you have the shape you want.

Step 6: Shape Out the Back of the Head.

Needed for this step:
zip ties
black sharpie
utility knife
Elmer's Max glue

Bastet is a bit more challenging than most masks; she doesn't have hair to cover the back, and we need to somehow get it on and off the head. I used something discovered in creating Anubis - a cheap 99 cent store plastic colander.

Cut the feet and edge off the colander, then carefully punch 2 rows of 7 holes in the back of the mask with the utility knife. Thread zip ties through the holes so it forms a "hinge" on the back of the head, allowing the user to get in and our of the mask, preserving the round back of the head.

When complete, the colander should sit vertically and not irritate the back of the neck, yet have enough flex in the hinge to open and close so the user can get in and out if it.

You'll need to apply a little more foam to the sides of the head to align with the sides of the colander - this is a bit important in maintaining continuity in the transition from the face to the back of the head. It will still show, but will do pretty well.

Once this fits well, you can use scissors to cut out an upside-down "U" shape out of the cardboard at the back of the head under the colander. We didn't do that until now because we weren't sure where the "hinge" would land. Don't cut too close to the hinge.

Step 7: Apply Mache Material and Light Putty.

Needed for this step:
mache material
lightweight hobby putty or spackling

We're now ready to finish off the mask sculpting with either paper mache or mache material. I used the pre-made material because it can be cut to shape and is easy to deal with. I like to start with the smaller pieces first - around the jaw, eyes, ears - then cover up the edges of those with the larger pieces so the larger pieces "hold in" the corners of the small bits. Whatever you like.

Aside, you can see how I changed the ears in this picture, which is not only more simple, they look more abstractly cat-like (ears facing forward.)

When dry, cover the entire mask in lightweight hobby putty or spackling material. Let it dry, then sand it smooth. Lay a light layer of putty in the ears, then as it's almost dry, use a carving tool or some other implement to stripe the ears.

Step 8: Base Coat of Paint.

Needed for this step:
masking tape
newspaper or other mask material
black gloss and clear spray paint

Mask off a 1/2" strip just in front of where the colander on the back of the head (see pic #2.) You do this because when you cover the colander, you want your glue to have a firm hold on the mask itself. If you glue directly to the paint, the paint might peel off. Cover the colander in newspaper (so we don't waste paint.)

Place a couple pieces of masking tape on the inside of the eye-holes of the mask.

Start with a light coat of black, let it dry, then coat with clear. Alternate the layers of clear and black until you have a glossy finish. Keep the layers thin, they will dry faster, allowing you to put more coats on in less time.

If you see rough spots between coats, dust them lightly with sandpaper but don't over-work it (you'll make it worse.)

You can avoid painting the inner ears (where it will be gold) or not; either way.

Step 9: Mask and Paint Gold Areas.

Needed for this step:
masking tape
newspaper or other mask material
x-acto knife
gold metallic paint

Use masking tape to create gold areas around the eyes, nose, and ears. Be creative with it! :-)

It's helpful to tape long pieces of masking tape to a piece of glass or some other low-stick surface and use an x-acto knife and ruler to cut the masking tape into thin strips. This helps you create nice corners with the masking tape.

One more caution on patience: your under coat of black may feel dry, but this doesn't mean it's cured. It may still be soft, and if you go in with the masking tape too soon, it may peel off the black when you try to remove it. Very bad scene. Make sure your under coat has cured fully, it's best to plan it so the under coat goes on last in the day so it can cure over night.

Important masking tip: Just before spraying, use a plastic burnisher or the back of your thumbnail to firmly press down the edges of the masking tape. In the first pic, you can see "wrinkles" at the edges of the round shape under the left eye, as this hasn't been done yet. If left unburnished, the paint will seep into these wrinkles, causing spikes and wrecking the fine sharp edges of the mask.

Spray the gold areas, and use the x-acto knife to pick at the edges of the masking tape to remove the mask, peeling away from your painted areas . . . looking good huh? :-)

Step 10: Create the Eyes.

Needed for this step:
dremel/moto tool
polycarbonate glasses
fabric glue

I shouldn't have to say this, but . . . make sure your glasses are plastic (polycarbonate,) NOT GLASS. Not only will glass not work, it creates a lot of potential hazards.

Shopping for the right reflective glasses is fun - try to shoot for something that has gold tints. The ones we found are pinkish from some angles, gold from others.

Fit them into the eye-holes, trim as necessary. Use small blobs of fabric glue, placed on the inside of the mask, to hold them in place.

Once the glue has dried, use small bits in your dremel to carefully grind/cut out the irises.

Step 11: Nose and Finishing Touches.

Needed for this step:
vinyl or thin rubber packing
popsicle stick
1 can of high tack 3M trim adhesive (or tube, or . . . ?)
black stretchy fabric
fabric glue
1 1/2" to 2" gold earring
large pliers or channel lock pliers
Optional: 1 12v computer CPU fan, 1 transistor battery
Optional: Soldering iron and light solder

The nose: I used a piece of thin rubber packing, but this could be anything - vinyl, whatever. Wrap the material around the popsicle stick in such a way that it forms a cat nose shape. Look at some cats to get something close. :-) When experimenting, hold it to your mask to make sure you're hitting the right size and shape for the nose hole.

The only thing I found that made a suitable adhesive for this particular material was 3M trim adhesive in spray form. It also comes in a tube, and you may have something that works just as well. Clamp it into shape, let it dry, then cut off the popsicle stick and glue it to the inside of the nose.

The earring: cut one side of the earring, spread it apart, then drill a hole through the LEFT EAR. (The classic Bastet has ONE EARRING, not two, and it is on the LEFT.) You may use the lobe position like we've done, or drill ih halfway up the ear as you may have seen. Use the pliers to carefully close the ring into the holes - be careful with your grip here, and do this is such a way that if the pliers slip it doesn't chop Bastet's ear in half!

The head cover: I struggled a bit with this one. In the first pictures and video, you will see the cover "hangs" down and is kind of crumpled up. No matter what I did, it left creases in the material or looked tacky. Painting the colander would look like, well, a painted colander.

Below is what we finally arrived at for a final solution. We glued the lead edge of the fabric in the "non-stretchy" direction just in front of the colander, then stretched it around the colander as best as possible and glued it inside the colander edge, leaving only two folds in the fabric. It's not perfect, but works out pretty well at the Halloween parties. :-)

A narrow strip of masking tape along the leading edge of the fabric is painted black with a small brush, and hides the edge pretty well. The final picture is Bastet and Anubis together.

Optional: These masks are closed masks, I've found it helps to fasten a small 12V CPU fan inside the nose over the vent holes and run a wire up to a 9V transistor battery and connector, which fits perfectly in the corner of the mask between the inside of the mask and the top of the face mask. The 12V fan runs fine on 9V. This requires a basic understanding of hobby electronics - if you've gotten this far, I trust you can figure it out without pictures! :-)

Step 12: Create Bastet's Gown.

Needed in this step:
Stretchy pleated polyester fabric
sewing machine
scarab adorned necklace

For the gown, my wife used an evening gown as the "pattern" for the gown. This material is unlike anything we've seen, it has a squarish pleated pattern that stretches almost 4 times it's unstretched width.

The pattern is pretty simple, but due to the stretchiness of the material, she had to keep altering it down until it fit right.

The scarab beetle plays a big part in Egyptian mythology and is in all of the renderings of Bastet, so you will want a necklace adorned with scarab beetles. See if you can find a suitable one at Zarifa's. The problem with this is that it is heavy and may not lay flat when worn, so she attached the necklace to the dress itself with fabric glue. Most of these are threaded with cotton strand as well, so to avert disaster, run some fishing line through the beads of the outer edge of the necklace.

Step 13: Add Gold Piping, Finishing Touches

Needed for this step:
black beanie
black stockings, socks, or leggings
sheer black blouse or top, black gloves
6-10 rolls of 1/4" gold ribbon
fabric glue
small scrap of gold material

Beginning at the center of the front, glue in the ribbon in approximately 4" spacings. You can sew it in, but it tends to bunch up with this material and is difficult to work with. When the front and backs are done, start at the bottom of the dress and run the ribbons up to the center seam, front and back, forming an upside-down V at the sides.

Not shown here are the gold strip for the bottom of the gown and the gold material "collar" for the top, shown in the finished pictures and video. The bottom strip is attached with fabric glue,  and the "collar" is a circular piece of cloth with a velcro strip at the back.

Cut ear-holes in the beanie to cover your neck in black, and top it off with black stockings, blouse and gloves.

Em Hotep, and happy creating!

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