Intro: Making Custom Latex Halloween Masks on a Budget
Like every geeky Halloween loving dork out there I like the show Faceoff, and I was like i can sooo do that. Bad part is their supplies can run into the thousands of dollars. I going to show you an economical way to start into the hobby.
Step 1: Lets Get Sculpting
I use an armature to sculpt on. These are a 1 time cost. Nice thing is means you dont need as much clay, and it has you proportions mapped out. You can find these online from $30 up. DO NOT USE STYROFOAM HEADS FROM CRAFT STORES, i tried this, clay barely sticks to them, plus they are to softand will distort as you sculpt. Sculpting tools can be high, i bought my on ebay and amazon, and actually bought cheap dental tool for most of them. Clay you have 2 options, water based or oil based. Water based is cheaper and holds way more detail but hardens in hours, and cant be reused. Oil based is expensive about 20$ per 5lbs, but you can reuse it, just heat and it softens right up. When soft its like wet clay, when hard you can carve in it. I use oil 15lbs and ive done over 20 mask designs and clay is still kicking.
Step 2: The Sculpt
alright, i amateur at best at sculpting. So i use help. Ping pong balls marbles ect make great eyes, dental supply stores you can buy teeth sets under 10$ way easier than sculpting them. Remember you can use any thing, need a lizard crawling on a monster? why sculpt it? mash a rubber toy into the clay, let things work for you. In the drawing above is about planning. The red area shows undercuts that may get hung when you cast your sculpt. The second drawing shows how to correct them so you mold dont get stuck.
Step 3: Time to Cast
Ok decision time. Are you making maybe 10 copies of this mask? or are you going to make tons to sell online? If you going into business this is not the method for you. Mass production you need to use ultracal aka liquid stone. Its awesome, heavy super expensive 2 bags may not be alot but shipping will kill you like 60$ plus. But this stuff is durable and will last cast after cast. I usually make 10 or less masks from my mold so im cheap. I use pottery plaster, with 40%off coupon at hobby lobby its 3$ a jar. At most 4 jars will do a good mold. Take the sculpt lay on its back. This is messy!!!!!! Use wed clay 25lb box at hobby lobby 12$ put around sculpt halving it like in the picture of the torso sculpt. Put marbles in edges to create registration marks to help seal mold later. . I first drawing red shows clay around sculpt, green is the plaster coat on top. Now take vaseline, brush sculpt and clay around it,coat very well, but very thin it can kill your detail if it gobbed in spots. Mix in small batches your plaster. First batch make smaller, and more watery, spread it over the sculpt, with it watery it will drop into all the cracks for detail. Next coat make like pudding, like pic of orange bucket. keep adding coats till it like the pic smoothing coats. TIP you can add strips of burlap or old cut up fabric in later coats to strengthen the mold. Let dry an hour. Flip sculpt over remove wed clay around edges, pop out ref marbles. clean down to plaster. Now like in the second drawing put clay (red in drawing) under plaster to level it. Coat plaster and the back of the sculpt in vaseline like before. Pour plaster (blue in drawing) same as before let harden an hour.
Step 4: Pouring Mask
Pry open mold. Should have 2 shells. Clean any clay left in molds out. Let mold sit a day. Next day put kitchen oven on lowest setting min is 200. I cook each half off the mold 8 hours each ( i have to do one at a time because oven is to small). This removes left moisture and helps in durability. Now take both halves use registration marks to fit them together. Tape or ratchet strap them together, making a funky odd plaster vase. Now get your liquid latex (rd407) you can buy all over the internet, runs about 110 for 5 gal, but can buy smaller sizes. 5 gal makes about12 masks. Now pour that ugly vase full of the latex. Rotate as you fill, stop to release air pockets, keep this up till its full. Let sit 2hours, pour excess into bucket. let stand upside down dripping out for 8 hours and repeat fill second time. Let cure 2 to 3 days, Never have cold or freezing temps with this, keep temp 70 ish. When you touch it it should feel rubbery with no wet or tacky spots if cured. dust the inside with talc powder. Slow pull mask free. Cut any rough or ragged edges. Bam its a blank, ready for color.
Step 5: Get Creative
Now you have your blank have fun. Paint each one different ways expierment. Add moss, bugs, glue gun drool, taxidermy eyes , stitch up like skin. Remember try to use latex paints they stretch other paints may crack or chip off with wear. airbrushes work awesome, definatley worth the money, but hand painting works too. Have fun creating, and have a happy Halloween!!