Introduction: Twin Peaks Black Lodge Mask

About: I Build Monsters.

Like many people, I have gone through a period of Twin Peaks obsession in my youth. The work of David Lynch has always intrigued me, and that oddball television landmark of the 1990s has always occupied a place of fondness in my heart.

Also like many people, I was both excited and nervous when it was announced that, by some bizarre miracle, the show would return for a third season after twenty-five years (just like that thing Laura Palmer said in the last episode! Holy gosh!)

But without access to premium television, it wasn't until a week ago that I finally had a chance to view the new episodes (I loved it, in case you were wondering.) And it didn't surprise me very much at all when I was about halfway through the series and suddenly found myself thinking "I want to make a Black Lodge mask." I wasn't sure what that meant, exactly, but I knew I wanted to make it as soon as I figured it out.

I think, honestly, that I always knew more or less what the mask should be, I just wasn't sure that it was a sensible thing for a mask. I say "Black Lodge" but really what I mean is the red room, and the red room really only has two major signifiers: the black and white chevron floor, and the red velvet curtains. And that is what I wanted my mask to be, even if it didn't make any sense!

When I made my last mask, I actually took two plaster gauze casts of my face because, hey, chances are pretty good that I'm going to need another one soon. So there was already a blank mask laying around! I thanked Matt of the Past for his excellent foresight, and got to work.

Step 1: Run Silent, Run Drapes

This seemed like the only way to do it, but I wasn't sure it would work.

First I pressed a thin layer of clay over the bottom portion of the plaster gauze mask, up to the cheekbones and nose opening.

I laid a mannequin head on its back and placed the plaster gauze base on it.

Taking a big handful of my leftover paper mache clay, I rolled out a sheet of it with a rolling pin. I trimmed the edges with scissors into a rectangle, and draped it over the face. I had to try this a couple of times to get it right; the clay is kind of stretchy, and either too sticky or not sticky enough, depending on whatever is least convenient for you in the moment.

Once I was satisfied with the way it draped, I just let it rest overnight.

In the morning I checked it, found it still too wet for me to mess with much, but was able to safely lift it off the mannequin long enough to verify that it was reasonably solid and that the paper mache clay wasn't going to immediately detach from the plaster. Then I put it back on the mannequin until I got home from work in the evening.

With an X-Acto knife, I cut four small eye openings in the curtain, in front of the eye openings in the plaster base, within the deep grooves of the drapery.

Step 2: Sanding and Edging

That curtain is one of the toughest shapes I've ever given myself to sand down, but I did my best. I spent a lot of time sanding down the jaw and smoothing out the drapes! And believe me, I could have spent more. Probably should have. Dale Cooper would have.

With the remaining clay, I started to seal the open areas and join the edges of the plaster base to the clay drapes. All along the forehead and around both eye openings, and the open edges of the jaw, and where the drape fell across the nose. Once it was dried, I was very confident in the mask as a single, solid object.

I also beautified the curtains by filling in little crack and gaps, and defining the bottom edges along the sides.

Then I sanded it all again, and again, and finally I was ready to paint.

Step 3: That Paint Job You Like Is Going to Come Back in Style

This is another fine example of a really simple, difficult paint job.

There are only three colors involved: black, white, and bright red.

First I did some black up under the billowed edges of the curtain, because if I did the curtain first, I would only end up wishing I hadn't.

Then I painted the curtain red, a few coats, and let it dry nice and solid. I added a little black to the red and started to paint in the lowlights. At one point, I had been planning to go really deep and dark in the low areas of the curtain, so I could hide the eye openings in the folds. But the more I contemplated it, the more I enjoyed the weird, alien look of the mask with the eye holes visible. I decided to maintain a more minimalist approach to the curtain, keeping the dark areas fairly bright, and only adding the tiniest bit of white when I did the highlights.

For the chevron floor, I drew the zigzags in freehand. I had thought about graphing it out for more mathematical accuracy, but in the end I figured it would be easier this way. The human face is not that similar to a floor, so it was always going to be a challenge, and would require several tweaks along the way.

I drew my zigzags and started painting them in, and once I had it mostly done, it was just a matter of examining the mask from every possible angle and then making little adjustments.

For the ties, I folded red ribbon over a short length of wire and glued it down, then formed a clay bead around the wire. I painted these to match the curtain.

My original plan had been to use a satin varnish on the curtain and a matte varnish on the floor, but I changed my mind. In person, the curtain didn't look that weird, but in photographs in always looked like meat! I figured that with a matte varnish the curtain would, at least, look less like meat, so that's what it got!

Step 4: The Place on Your Face

And there you have it! This is the first mask I have ever made that was based on a location. I am still not sure if it makes sense, but I love the effect. If you've never seen Twin Peaks it probably makes even less sense, but maybe that doesn't matter!

I hope you enjoy this strange thing I have made, and if nothing else, maybe it will encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to mask-making.