Introduction: Silicon Mask Making

My son and I were watching a show on SYFY called faceoff, a reality show about aspiring makeup artist and a competition between them.  In my usual fashion, I said to my son "...we can do that."

Materials used:
  • 3lbs Algisafe: alginate- used to capture models face as safely as possible (used 1/3-1/2 of it)
  • Plaster bandages 4x180 inches used about 1/2 of the roll
  • Air dry clay: used about 5lbs, but it depends on your design.
  • Silicone rubber: Smooth on Dragon Skin Platinum (2lb kit)
  • frame to cast "monster" side of mask.  I used 4 angle brackets and 1/4 X 6 X 24 inch boards.  More on this later
  • Plaster 15lbs
  • squirel cage mixer
  • Dish soap
  • bald cap

Step 1: Project Overview

The whole process is a multi step ordeal.  It involves dental alginate, plaster bandages, clay, plaster, and silicone.

You start by creating a positive mold of your "Actor", build up the enhancements to that character, then cast that, clean the original cast of the actor and use the two to make a two sided mask.  One side gets attached to the actor, one side is the "monster" that was created.

Step 2: Cast Your Actor

Start Day One

Get the actor comfortable in a chair and establish some hand sign to confirm thing are going well (they will not be able to talk once you start the process).  We used a simple thumbs up.

Grease hair with conditioner or vaseline, we don't want it getting stuck.  At this point I will mention when I do this again, I will add the bald cap into the process.  This will allow me to cast more of the model without worrying so much about hair.  Alginate in the hair kinda sucks. (so I am told by the actor)

Mix up the alginate per the instructions on the box. Quickly apply to the face. !!!KEEP THE NOSE HOLES CLEAR!!!  We will fill them later.  You have to move quick, it goes from the consistancy of thick (yet smooth) cream of wheat to set pretty quickly.  So this means you have to get it in place and then keep it coralled to get the whole face in.  So be thorough and quick.

Once that has set (you will feel it, it turns to a kind of ultra-dense foam rumbber of sorts) you should be ready to reinforce the alginate with the the plaster bangages.  Again, keeping the air holes clear.  i like to talk to the model, letting them know what I am doing so they are comfortable and can imagine what is happening.  Use a criss-cross pattern with the bandages (put them on one way, then the next layer, the other direction) as I believe this will build up the strength.

I let the whole thing dry until the plaster bandages were hard (10 min?). I then unmolded the Actor.  This is the Actor negative mold.

  1. If at all possible, capture half of the actors head using the bald cap.  It might be work casting the hole head if you can, this will make things nice when you are going to the last castigng step.

Step 3: Create the Actor Positive Mold

Now that we have the actor negative mold, it is time to make the positive.  This is the piece we will use as part 2 of the final two part mold as well as the piece we use to create the "monster" part of the mask.

First, fill any airholes (from the model breathing) in the mold using a small bit of alginate mixed up a smooshed in.  Let that set up.

Position the Actor Negative as flat as you can.  you can use whatever to prop it in pace and keep it there.  I used wood blocks and clay.

 Mix up the plaster according to the directions on the package and fill the alginate/plaster negative with plaster.

I let this set over night and un-molded it in the morning.

Start Day 2

Step 4: Now the Fun Part: Sculpt Your Monster.

Using the air dry clay, model the monster you are trying to create.  My son did a great job on this one.  the is the result of two hours of sculpting.  It was smooth and pretty symetrical when he was done...

I am sure there are some limitations on undercuts etc, just keep that in mind as you mold.  We did not run into any issues with the design shown.

Step 5: Cast the Monster Negative

Ok.  So now we have to cast the monster we want to become.   Build some sort of framework slightly larger than the actor positive with the clay on it. 

I then layed the plaster and clay casting face up on the board.  I filled in any holes around the edges of the casting down to the board with more clay. 

Once I had the whole edge sealed, I sized and blaced the framework box over the face. . (dont know if that is needed or not).  I used angle brackets and 6x24 inch wood to create a frame.  I had a piece of plywood I used as the bottome and I ductaped the seems to keep plaster from leaking.  No pictures in process as I was alone and working quickly against the deadline.

Let it dry over night. 

Start Day 3

Remove the frame and then the actor positive w/clay monster.  Clean all clay off of the monster negative and the actor positive.  The space between these two becomes the mask itself.

TIP: The idea is to have enough material outside of the sculpture to support the silicone during the final cast  Plaster is pretty cheap, go nutty.  I will get 5 more lbs next year.

Step 6: Pour the Silicone

You may want to use a mold releasse (dish soap and water 50/50).  I forgot to.  The silicone is forgiving.

Again, working alone, I did not get any good shots of this step in process.  But what you do is mix up the silicone. (super messy, I used disposable gloves and a plastic drop cloth at this point).  It is like mixing thick honey x 2 together.  Do a thorough job as I belive that makes the difference in the end.

How much?  I mixed 2/3s of it and ended up having mix the rest and use it all for this design. 

Pour the silicone into the monster negative.  ise a stick/dowel/pencil you do not care about and tease the air bubbles from the mold for a bit.  I think they normally use shaker tables....I don't have one.

Now place the actor positive into the silicone.  Depending on the design, the piece could float, or sink.  Mine sunk.  I built up the edges of the actor positive with clay in a hope for a nicer final mold.  silicone still went up and over the edges.  I ended up trimming the excess off later, no problem.

Let set for 6-8 hours.

TIP: I am sure if I measured how much clay I cleaned off, I would have a better idea how much silicone I needed to mix year....

Step 7: Uncast Your Mask

I cut the silicone off the back and freed the actor positive and pulled that out.  I then carefully worked the mask out of the monster negative. 

Cut out the nostriles for breathing, and eyes for seeing.  Use a good sharp exacto as the silicone is very particular who it will seperate for.

Came out great. in my opinion, but I may be biased.