A few years ago I read the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman and in it Anubis (an ancient Egyptian deity) is in modern times working at a funeral parlor preparing the dead for their funerals (and going by the name Mr Jaquel). The image of Anubis wearing a suit popped into my head this year and was too cool to pass up so I decided to go for it and all things considered it turned out pretty cool and was cheap to boot (around $20 because I had most of the materials already).
List of Materials:
White Glue (I used Elmer's)
Plaster of Paris
Plastic Half Mask
Shop Towels (heavy paper towels)
Matte Black Spray Paint
Black Feathers (large and small)
Scrap Piece of Wood
Bolt or Long Screw
Hot Glue Gun
I chose a black suit and tie with a white collared shirt and suspenders. I already had the tie, suspenders and black shoes. The other clothing I picked up for $12 at a local thrift store.
Step 1: Making the Frame
I chose poster board because it is cheap and easy to cut and shape. I used a trial and error system of cutting the general shape of each piece of board and seeing how it looked on the plastic half mask, making adjustments as necessary. Once I found a shape that worked I traced it to the board and duplicated it for the other side. There are seven pieces total for the front in this step: each ear, each cheek, the forehead, and the two nose pieces. On the back I added a piece to each ear, each a little larger that front and bent to meet the edges so it would make them thicker.
Step 2: Adding the Muzzle
I began the muzzle by taping two rectangular pieces of board to the chin and bridge of the nose, connecting them at the tip of the nose. I then went back in and added some more pieces of board connecting the bridge of the nose to the long muzzle. There was one piece on top and two on each side connecting the cheeks to the bridge of the nose.
After that I cut two pieces of paper board and bent them into a round shape for the muzzle sides before taping them in place.
Step 3: Begin Paper Macheing
I used two recipes for the paper mache and gesso, both of which I found in the book How To Make Masks by Jonni Good.
Plaster Based Paste:
1/4 cup of white glue
1 tablespoon of cold water
1 teaspoon of vinegar
1/4 cup of plaster of Paris
A warning, you will get your hands dirty (plus any work surface), so be sure to have a bowl of water and a towel nearby. I used a bowl of water to get most of the plaster off my hands because I didn't want to wash it down the sink.
Start by tearing your shop towels in half and soaking them in water. Make sure to ring them out. Place the damp towel on your mask's frame and smooth out the towel as best you can starting with the front of the mask. Now paint on the plaster paste. I let it sit for about 15 minutes before doing the same to the back of the mask. After letting it dry I added another layer to the front so it was more sturdy.
Step 4: Adding the Gesso
The gesso will help to smooth out some of the bumps on the mask and provides a nice painting surface.
Plaster Based Gesso
1 tablespoon of white glue
2 teaspoons of water
2 tablespoons plaster of Paris
1/4 teaspoon of vinegar
Once mixed, paint the mask with the gesso and let dry (you may have to make more gesso depending on the size of the mask).
Step 5: Painting the Mask
After it is completely dry the mask should be pretty hard and ready for painting. If you have any bumps that you want to soften before painting use a dish washing abrasive pad or a wet sponge to smooth them out. After painting most imperfections don't show much.
Place your mask on a surface you don't mind getting spray paint on and paint away. I used a matte black spray paint and took my time to get all the tricky spots (like around the eyes). After about half an hour the top was dry and I began painting the back. I was a little worried I would be smelling paint the whole time I wore the mask but after a few days of drying it didn't smell at all.
Step 6: Making the Cane
I had a banister post left over from when I used them for table legs and figured it would make a pretty good cane. After removing the nub at the top and shortening the bottom to a desirable height (I cut off about an inch) I drilled a hole in the center of the top.
Next I drilled a whole in a piece of scrap wood (again, part of a banister post) about 3/4 of an inch off center to give it that cane shape. I then put the two pieces together with a spare bolt I had lying around.
Optionally I gave thought to leaving the nub on the top and using it as a base to attach the head but I didn't have a drill bit that big.
After spray painting it matte black (it was easiest just to stand it up in the dirt while painting), I hot glued some large and small feathers to the head of the cane. I I glued the large feathers on first and then filled in the rest of the area with small feathers.
Step 7: Ready for a Night on the Town
With the costume complete I placed the large feathers I had left in my breast pocket. Why the feathers? Well one of Anubis's duty's was to weigh the heart of the dead against the weight of an ostrich feather. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the soul could pass into the afterlife, if it was heavier, it got devoured by Ammet.
Hope you liked it and happy Halloween!