Leather Calavera Mask




Introduction: Leather Calavera Mask

My hometown has an annual Day of the Dead festival that brings out the most beautiful makeups and costumes. I decided I had to participate this year, but I'm not good with makeup. I am however happy for any opportunity to work with leather, so I created a mask that I can wear each year.

Step 1: Materials


leather punch

waxed thread


awl or stylus

acrylic paint



hot glue gun


fine point permanent marker

wooden mallet


Step 2: Skull Base

Draw your skull design on the back of your leather. If you're worried about symmetry, draw one side first on paper then cut it out and trace it onto your leather one side at a time.

I love to burn leather. The way it curls and scorches is always interesting, so I decided to use a soldering iron/wood burner to draw in the teeth. This is optional and could just as easily be done with paint later in the process.

Step 3: Scalloped Eyes

Use the holes in the skull base to trace the center of the eye pieces onto two contrasting leathers. (I recommend black for the small and a bright color for the larger. This will allow you to use black makeup around the eyes and nose to blend with the mask if you're looking for a more realistic look.)

Draw and cut the outside edges on the smaller pieces in a scalloped design.

Cut out the smaller pieces and trace them onto the leather for the larger pieces. Draw and cut the scalloped edges for the larger pieces.

Punch a hole in the center to make room for your scissors and cut out the eye holes.

Use a heavy duty lighter to scorch the larger pieces. By burning each scallop in the center, it will curl and add some dimension.

Step 4: Stitching

Lay the smaller eye piece on top of the larger, and use an awl/stylus and wooden mallet to punch holes into each scallop.

Use a leather punch on its smallest setting to put larger holes in the large eye piece where you made the stylus/awl holes. This will allow you to stitch more easily and mark the mask's hole placement. Keep just the stylus/awl holes in the smaller eye piece.

Lay the larger eye piece onto the skull base, and use a pen to mark the hole placement. Punch these holes with the leather punch.

Use a blanket stitch and waxed thread to sew the two eye pieces to the skull base.

Step 5: Paint Details

To draw out your design for the details, I recommend copying the mask on a printer and drawing your design on half. If you don't have a printer/scanner, trace the mask base onto a piece of paper before drawing out your design.

Cut out the design with an X-Acto knife and trace the first half of your design onto the leather.

Flip the paper over and trace the other half.

Paint the designs. I used acrylic paint because it's flexible, bright, and it was what I had lying around.

When the paint is dry, trace the designs with a fine tip permanent marker.

Step 6: Flower Petals

Draw and cut out a pattern for your flower petals. The shape of your petals can vary greatly depending on what type you want to emulate. You need a large and a small petal pattern.

The number of petals you need is really up to you, but I put 5 on each tier with three tiers. I traced the large pattern 10 times and the small pattern 5 times.

Trace your pattern, and cut out your petals.

Again, I love how the leather curls when hit with a lighter. Scorch the ends to make them curl.

Dampen the petals and use a ball pointed modeling tool on a soft surface, like a folded up towel, to create a center "vein" in each petal.

Further shape them as desired and lay out to dry.

Step 7: Flower Construction

You need a base for your petals. I used some metal jewelry hardware I found at my local craft shop, but you could use a piece of leather as well. I wanted the metal to curl up more, so I cut each petal apart to allow me to bend them up.

Use hot glue to stick your first tier of large petals onto the base.

Stagger the next layer of large petals as you glue them.

Stagger the final layer of small petals as you glue.

To cover the center, I used another metal piece and a glass bead.

Step 8: Final Details

Hot glue your flowers on the front and cut a small piece of leather to glue on the back. This will help support the flower.

Add a bit of lace to the top.

Hot glue an elastic strap to the back.

Step 9: Go Out on the Town

Leather Goods Contest

Participated in the
Leather Goods Contest

Halloween Costume Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest

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    • Anything Goes Contest

      Anything Goes Contest


    I've photographed the Day of the Dead for the last three years. Look up Humans of Fort Lauderdale on Facebook.


    8 years ago

    Cool mask :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    So interesting.. voted for this cool mask :)


    8 years ago

    thanks for sharing about the heart on the leather petals, very interesting. I will have to try this soon.


    Reply 8 years ago

    Sorry I ment heat on the petals


    8 years ago

    Thank you for this Instructable. I like it