Introduction: Maze Ball Mask (laser Cut)

About: Explorer

Being invited to a masked ball, I decided to make a mask. Since a couple of month we have access to a laser cutter at school, so I  oriented my design towards laser's capacities.

You'll find here the process I followed to make realize it and the pattern can be replaced by any of your crazy ideas!

[Project made by a member of DIN2012 - Université de Montréal / Design industriel]

Step 1: Materials

- sheet of plastic (acrylic or else) 
- black flat spray paint
- golden acrylic paint
- black ribbon: 1,5 cm wide by 80 cm long (0,5 '' x 32 '')
- sheets of craft acrylic felt (optional)

- heat gun, oven or lava
- oven mitt
- a needle and some black thread
- sand paper, preferably a fine grit
- fine brush
- cloth
- utility knife
- thread 

Step 2: Design

I filled the mask with a maze but it's easily replaced by any pattern you like. Remember however that a complex design will be consequently longer to paint.

The file here contains the mask's shape, which you can adapt to your needs. For example, I wanted my mask to cover a bit more of my face so I made it higher. Refer to my photo to resize or reshape it. Leave it as is if you want lots of surface for your design or make or make it smaller if you think you'll look crazy in it. 

I strongly suggest that you print your design on paper once the modifications are done. Check your design for:
- how it looks on your face
- but most importantly if the holes for the eyes are the right size and in the good place.

You'll feel quickly tired of wearing your mask if looking through it isn't comfortable. At this point you don't need to shape the paper to perfectly fit your face and a couple of rough trials should give you the information you need for the modifications.

Save your file
Use a software for vectorial editing: Illustrator, Inkskape (free and open source) or any CAD program. Refer to your laser cutter, making sure your design will be engraved in the mask, not cut through. 

Step 3: Cut & Engrave!

I used transparent acrylic sheet, 1,5 mm (1/16'') thick but a black one would have save me some painting. Acrylic is very easy to deform and reshape, but breaks easily if dropped or exposed to cold temperatures. On the other hand it has a sharp finish when cut with laser compared to PE for example, which tends to melt. 

Some sanding might be needed for smoothing the edges and to prepare the surface for easier paint application. 

Step 4: Shape It

Using a heat gun, or any heating device, heat the mask and shape it. If you're careful and agile enough, you can use your kitchen oven. Simply turn it on around a temperature that is suitable for your material and using oven mitt expose the mask to the heat. Remember that you don't need to reach high temperatures, so begin by testing with low temperatures and increase until you can work your material easily without destroying it or yourself. 

Using a mold is very helpful. Using your face is really not recommended (try, but you'll burn yourself). It happened that my friend had a wooden head for hat making so I used it, but almost anything similar will do. You can cover your mold with a thin felt, just to make sure that the plastic doesn't stick to it. 

- First heat the entire mask so you'll shape it's overall form.
- Then heat locally to deform some details.
- Using oven mittens, a sheet of felt or any other protection quickly apply the mask on the mold.
- Be firm when modeling, but don't force it too much or it'll break as it gets colder. 
- Change the shape by little increments, fit your face in it so the result will have a real custom fit.  

Step 5: Painting

Paint according to your taste and methods of working. I suspended the mask on a thread and spray painted it with black flat paint, making at least 3 thin layers, letting dry between each.

Once well dry, paint the engraved pattern, I used regular gold acrylic paint. At the beginning I was very careful and been using a very delicate brush, but I soon realized that it's easier to simply apply paint with less care and to wipe off what exceeds with a lightly wet cloth.

Step 6: Finishing

Take your ribbon and cut two pieces of 40 cm (16 '').
Using a needle, sew the ribbons on each side in the interior of the mask. 

You can glue a thin felt, or anything similar as long it's reasonably soft, inside the mask for extra comfort. Simply glue it and once the glue is set, cut whatever exceeds with an utility knife.

Voilà! You can now anonymously enjoy bals. Have fun and share your photos!

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