A low or no-budget alternative to Halloween costuming.
Hi there. Some of my students have requested that I start posting walk-through instructions on the props I build, and I agreed it was a decent idea. Many will be a low-budget opportunity to make a cool mask or costume, and some will be more in-depth, costly and professional.
This is a quick, 2-hour project I pieced together for one of my students who requested a Nazgul King mask for a production he was working on.
Note: This mask is not intended to be a replica of the Nazgul King's. In fact, it's missing the spikes, and the metal horn from the middle nose point does not extend nearly 1 foot off the forehead as it does in the movie.
This is a low-budget, cool project. We could make the real one, but I don't have enough time working on my halloween project to crank out such a thing simultaneously!
That being said, don't be disappointed at it's simplicity.
Also, all the Lord of the RIngs images/characters are property of their respective creative owners, etc.
Step 1: Tools
You should be able to find most of these tools lying around the house. If you do not own a Dremel tool, you should go buy one. A $20 investment on a cheap, single-speed Dremel can result in years of prop-making and costuming opportunity.
Rubber Mallet (Regular hammer works too, but not as well)
Hot glue gun + extra glue
Sharpie (Felt tip pen)
Dremel tool (Cut off blades and sanders)
Plumber's Goop - Though I reccommend this particular brand, any superglue will work. This happens to be a great, gooey gel that will hold wood to metal to anything imaginable. Easily worth it to buy a bunch.
Scissors (not pictured, too lazy)
Also, get some paper (Not pictured. You know what it looks like, though, right?)
IT IS ALWAYS REQUIRED THAT YOU TAKE PRECAUTIONS WHEN WORKING WITH METALS, TOXIC CHEMICALS, AND POWER TOOLS. WEAR PROTECTIVE GOGGLES, USE GLOVES, DON'T HURT YOURSELF, PLEASE
Step 2: Materials
The piece of metal may be a bit difficult to find. It is not pictured, as I had already cut into it before I started taking pictures. Silly me.
You're going to need some metal. Preferably, you will want to find it in one large, flat piece. I found a nice piece of tin in a hobby store for $8. It is fairly thin, gigantic and flexible. At the very least, you could settle for aluminum flashing. Unfortunately, I threw away the container, so I cannot recall the brand etc.
A 1/2 yard of black fabric.
Some coathangers (Not pictured. I use 12 gauge aluminum steel, which works well, but is on a huge roll that I did not want to lug around)
Non-slip rubber drawer / cabinet liners (Walmart has these for 94 cents per 5 feet)
Spray Paint - Black, gray and red/brown are preferred.
Step 3: Make the Paper Mask First.
Don't start slicing into that metal. Bad idea. Put the dremel down.
First, fold your paper in half. This mask is symmetrical. Trace out some half shapes until you are satisfied with the result. I went through about 6 sheets of paper before I got what I wanted.
It's important to note that this paper is legal-sized, not 8.5x11. It's pretty large paper. I managed to find some that fit the metal I bought. If you can't find accurately sized paper, cut it to size and tape it together.
Once you have a shape you want, put it onto the metal and see if it fits.
Step 4: Getting Dirty - the Setup
Look at the finished picture closer - there's a little bend in the nose area. It's about a quarter of an inch triangle that flattens out into the rest of the mask after peaking dead center in the nose.
FIRST Practice by folding the paper mask to see where these bends fit the best. Get it to look good. The angled metal travels from the very top to the very bottom. Don't let it get too close to the eyes, either.
Here's where you need to get a bit creative. You're going to have to bend that big piece of metal. Three times. They need to be perfect bends.
Find some scrap pieces of wood lying around and sandwich the metal between them. Screw down the edges (You can see the screws in the wood, which are NOT piercing the metal). Get it down really tight. Use the rubber mallet to lightly tap on the metal to bend it. It may help to put a cloth down over the metal so you don't ding it up. Do this especially if you are using a real hammer rather than a rubber one.
Look at the second picture to see the kind of folds you need to achieve. It takes some elbow grease, but keep bashing it with the hammer, unscrew, slide the metal, screw the boards back down, and bash again. You'll get it, only took me a few minutes.
Step 5: Tracing
Put your paper mask onto the metal and see that it fits.
Hold it down and trace around the edges. Pencil doesn't show up well on metal (I pushed really hard to get it to work), so use the felt tip pen (Sharpie) instead if you have trouble. Make sure you get the eye holes, too.
Step 6: Cutting and Sanding
You don't want bits of metal flying off into your eyes.
Use the dremel to cut the shape out. Don't worry too much about complete accuracy. You will end up with many rough edges. Get the mask cut first.
Once it's cut, switch up the Dremel to the sander and smooth down the edges so they aren't at risk of slicing your face open. You should be able to get it smooth enough to run your fingers over without peril.
Step 7: Shaping
Some trickyness again.
You need this to fit your head. Cut the coat hangers into half-circles and try to judge where the back of the mask will go.
Use tape or hot glue to temporarily adhere these wires to the mask. See the drawing in the next step for details of where the two half-circles need to go.
Step 8: Going Haywire
I used a rubberband to curve the mask. You may want to take a cylindrical object (like a roll of masking tape) and use the rubber mallet to beat it around that shape to curve it without creasing it. My metal was fairly flexible, and the rubber band was enough to curve its shape.
Here you can see where the wires go. One goes across the top to keep the mask from falling down, the second goes around the back to keep it from falling forward. Refer to the drawing below. (Picture 2)
I used tape to get a general idea of where the wires would go, and used the super glue (Plumber's goop) to secure it permanently.
My mask was a bit flimsy, so I cut a couple extra wires and sent them down the jawlines to keep the tips from clanging around. You may not have to do this, but the wires are easily hidden when the mask is on. You'll see those in pictures in the next few steps.
Step 9: Painting the Metal
You may not have to do this. It depends on how many scuff marks, dings, etc are on the mask.
I simply did not want the polished look that was there.
Take out the cans and hit different areas of the mask with different colors.
DO IT LIGHTLY
The thing is metal already. You don't want to cover it up, only accent it. Put a small concentration of black in a corner, rust-red in another. Glaze the rest over with gray (but not too thick) and it'll look great.
There's no method, just be patient and don't overdo it.
Step 10: Blacking Out the Eyes
Now, you don't want your eyes to be seen while wearing this mask. You'll need to black them out.
Take the non-slip pads (Stuff used to line the inside of your drawers) that you bought. Make sure they are the ones that have a kind of patch-work design, with a lot of little tiny holes. (You can still see, quite well, through this.) They are the super cheap 94-cent version.
Cut a small strip that will cover the eyes with about a half inch overlap on each side.
With the strip cut out, you have a few options.
Either spray paint it black, or use the sharpie to color it in. Either way works fine. One (sharpie) doesn't smell as awful, though).
You need only to paint one side. Stick this side face-down over the eye holes, and secure with hot glue or plumber's goop.
(Close up picture of eyes was taken after mask was complete)
Step 11: Adding the Cloth Hood
This part is somewhat hit or miss.
I'm not that great with cloth.
My suggestion is to cut a circular shape out bigger than the forehead and glue it to the metal with hot glue. Let it sit until dry, then drape it over the half-moon wires. Hot glue it down (glue cloth to cloth) to keep it from slipping. Do this directly around the wires for maximum secureness. You can see the closeness of the cloth to the metal here, and how there is little slack - only enough to cover the top of the half-moon wires.
Step 12: Scare People!
Put on your finished mask, grab a black cloak, and enjoy!
Have fun out there.
More to come soon.