Make a Simple Mask Out of Foam

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About: Making (and breaking) projects in my shop every 2 weeks (or so)

Looking for an easy (and cheap) way to make a mask for a costume? PVA foam and a heat gun can help you get there!

Tools

Materials

Step 1: Create Your Mask Paper Pattern

To get the size right, I started out with a (super) rough paper form. I held a sheet of paper against my face to mark the edges of my eyes and roughly where I wanted the mask to extend.

I then filled in the outline with the rough mask shape. Before I cut it out, I folded the paper along a center line so that it would be symmetric once cut out.

Step 2: Cut Out a Paper Pattern

I then used a thin utility knife to cut out the paper mask and test fit it to my face. At this point its a lot easier to make adjustments to the overall design before you start working with foam. Paper is cheap!

Step 3: Cut Out the Mask Pattern in Foam

I used a 6mm foam sheet to cut out the mask. There are a bunch of different sizes and thicknesses you can get, but I found 6mm worked best for this situation.

The foam was cut out with a box knife, I took one light pass to establish the cut line and then came back with a deeper cut to separate it.

Step 4: Clean Up the Cut Lines

Even though the foam was pretty easy to cut it did wind up leaving some jagged edges. I used a Dremel with a sanding tool attached to clean up all the edges. You can also use the Dremel to add texture and round over the edges. Its pretty easy to work with!

Step 5: Form the Mask to Your Face With a Heat Gun

This is why PVA foam a blast to work with.

I used a heat gun to warm up the foam and then pressed it against my face. I repeated this process a few times as the mask got closer and closer to its final shape.

Be careful of fingerprints once the foam is heated up. There were a few spots where I pushed in too hard. You could clean these, but I wound up leaving them.

Step 6: Strengthen the Mask With Plastidip

While the foam is relatively strong, it still is very playable. I used Plastidip to add strength to the mask and lock in the final shape. Before applying Plastidip make sure that you have used a heat gun over the entire surface, this helps to seal in the foam and create a smoother surface.

Plastdip is used to apply a rubberized texture to tools. You are applying several coats of thing spray rubber to the mask. I used six total coats with drying time in between.

Step 7: ...and Your Done!

Since the foam was already black I could skip the painting portion. At this point you could paint the mask with a primer and then any color spray paint you'd like. You could also get crazy and add weathering and texture...but that's an Instructable for another day!

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