Step 1: Decide on a Character
Decide whether you want to use an existing character or an original. In this case my daughter wanted something from a new movie. He liked Anime/ Kabuki style but wanted something 'darker.'
Step 2: Things You Will Need
You will need the following items to complete this project:
Leather 1 piece veg tanned 1 piece colored to the desired shade (two veg tanned pieces or one small tooling side)
Leather weld adhesive or something that will dry clear
Exacto or similar small razor knife
Scribe or tracing etcher
Card stock (3 pieces)
Xerox copy or printer scan of original
Leather shaping tool
Leather Dye or leather paint
Bowl of water
Metric butt-ton of creative license
Step 3: Note on Leather
Make sure you get tooling leather and not milled or suede type. Tooling is thicker and easier to mold.
Step 4: Leather Tool/ Rounder/ Burnishing Tool
There are many different makers and sellers of this tool. I have found this piece to work nicely. I found it at a local hobby store and due to several types of curves and both a rounded and flat end, it seems to work for me. This other picture is an example of a more 'professional' version of the same tool.
Step 5: Sanding Block
This can be used to remove burrs in the leather and also to rough up the back side of the leather for gluing, if you don't they won't stick
Step 6: Pattern
First measure the child or your own face for dimensions to fit, Remember leather isn't cheap, measuring will save you a trip to the shop for more. Take the Xerox copy, card stock and either a pencil or carbon paper and transfer the design of all of the parts to the card stock. I suggest if they have a left and a right to color one side black to remind you to make both. They will then be identical to each other.
Step 7: Transferring the Pattern to the Leather
For some pieces you can simply use the carbon paper to transfer directly to the leather. However, since my design was on black and needed both a left and right side I outlined all the card stock pieces onto the leather for the veg tanned pieces and with a scribe for the black main face piece.
Step 8: Cutting Out the Main Piece
Use a combination of the rotary cutter, leather shears and Exacto knife to cut out the main piece of the mask.
Tip: Cut out one eye then flip it smooth side to smooth side on the other to make both eyes the same.
Step 9: Preparing the Leather for Shaping
Submerge all pieces of leather in warm water to soften. You will see bubbles coming from the leather (they are small but visible at the top of the picture.) once the pieces stop bubbling, usually about 2-3 minutes, remove each piece, burnish the edges and shape each individually.
Step 10: Test Fit
Test out all pieces for fit and shape. Dye (or paint if a sharper color is wanted) the leather allow to dry and test again in case of shrinkage.
Step 11: Glue and Stitch
Glue al pieces together, then stitch on the strap and buckle or elastic.
Step 12: Finish
Redye or touch up paint any pieces that have problem areas or that were damaged during the assembly process. Soak the mask and shape to the child's face or use the burnishing tool to shape. Let dry for roughly 24 hours somewhere where it will retain its shape and the leather can be aired on both sides.
The original picture and the mask are shown for comparison.