Introduction: Making a Full Faced Leather Mask

In this Instructable you will be making a full face leather mask that fits to the contours of your face.

First, gather materials and tools.

For this project you will need:


Optional Materials:

  1. leather stain
  2. paint
  3. press and seal plastic rap


  • bowl
  • drill or impact wrench
  • rolling pen
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • a very sharp knife
  • paint brush
  • oven

Optional Tools:

  • screw drivers/ carving or embossing tools
  • hammer
  • cloth rags
  • leather burnisher

Step 1: Make a Plaster Mold of Your Face

First you will make a plaster mold of your face in order to have a surface on which you can mold the leather. By doing this step instead of using a manikin head it allows you to fit the leather to the shape of your face, including over glasses. Begin by taking your plaster strips and cutting them into about 6" by 3" strips. Lay these out on some news paper along with a bowl of water and paper towels cut to the same width and length as the plaster. Start wetting the paper towels and laying them onto your face both horizontally and vertically. You probably want help with this part. Once your whole face is covered along with any hair that might get in the way of the plaster, wet the plaster strips and cover your face as you did with the paper towels. Be sure to leave holes for you to breath through. After you have build up two to three layers of plaster, allow them to dry on your face for about 15-20 minutes. When the plaster is dry, remove it from your face and set it on the work station. Now is your opportunity to fill in any thin areas of the mold.

Next you will build a base to put the mold on so that we have a nice surface to work on. Be sure that the mold of your face is good and dry before attempting this portion. Measure the width of the mold and add an inch on each side. Cut your wood to this size. Using four or five screws (nails would probably work too, I just happened to use screws, so that is my recommendation) attach the mold to the wood to form a nice sturdy work surface.

Step 2: Decide and Shape Designs

In this step you will be molding clay onto the cast of your face in order to have the final shape of the leather have more relief. If you just want the mask to look like your face, you can skip this step.

Begin by sketching out what you want the finished design to look like you can know where to sculpt.

Using modeling clay, waxed paper, and a rolling pen, roll out your clay. Grab your plaster cast of your face and the rolled out clay. Using water to help the clay maintain it's flexibility, sculpt the shapes of the relief portions of the final mask design. Allow the clay to dry overnight then fill in any cracks that formed in the morning using water and additional clay. Cover the dry mold with foil, being sure to cover the whole mold in a smooth layer.

Step 3: Shaping the Leather

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit or a comparably low temperature. Take your leather, a bowl of water, and a paint brush and cover the leather in an even coat of water. Put the wet leather in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove it and place it onto the foil- covered plaster mold of your face. Press down on one area, such as the forehead. Hold the leather in this position until it starts to cool. Apply more water and place the leather back in the oven for another ten or so minutes. Again, press down on one section and hold. When you are doing this you should see the leather begin to hold that shape. Paint on more water and put the mask back in the oven for another ten minutes. Repeat this process another three or four times to shape the top of the mask.

Now you can do one of a few things. You can do what I did and shape the chin then cut out the excess in the middle, you could create a purposeful cut or bubble, or you could devise a better solution (of which I am sure exists and would love to hear.) Whichever method you choose, I did it by shaping the chin in the same way you have shaped the forehead, eyes and nose, then I took binder clips and put them over the excess material in the middle that I later cut out. Bake your mask two more times without water for about seven minutes each to finalize shaping and bake out any excess water.

Step 4: Embellish Exterior

Over the course of the next step you will be embossing, staining, and painting the exterior of your mask.

First, any embellishments that you want to be indentations need to be embossed in. I did not have any of the specialized tools so I used screwdrivers, carving tools, and a wooden mallet. While embossing tools would improve quality, it can be done without them. Using the screwdrivers as chisels, tap firmly two or three times where you want the indentations.

Moving on to stain, be sure to have an out door space as the scent of the stain can linger indoors for days. Take a soft cloth and your mask and apply the stain with the cloth following the instructions on the bottle. Mine said to move in small circles and apply no more than one coat.

Next is painting. If you're not sure whether or not you want to embellish with color, do what I did and take a piece of plastic wrap and put it over your mask and paint on that to get a preview of the finished paint job.

On another note, I would highly recommend burnishing the edges. I did not have a burnishing tool and my attempts at making one were unsuccessful so I was unable to, but it does improve your produce.

Step 5: Line the Interior and Add Ribbion

You need a length of ribbon that encircles your head. Take this piece and cut it in half. Use Barge Contact Cement to glue the ribbon onto the mask near the eye holes.

Take your black felt and cut a piece slightly smaller than your mask. Use hot glue to tack the felt in place and Barge Contact Cement for longevity, glue the felt into place, being sure to press it into all crevices. Cut eye holes and be sure you can breath.

Step 6: Wear or Display Your Mask

You just made a mask! Wear or display it with pride.

Leather Contest 2017

Participated in the
Leather Contest 2017