If you've read any of my other Halloween costume Instructables, (Annabelle, The Exorcist, Jason Voorhees, Furiosa, or The Predator) you know that my kid's LOVE dressing up as their favorite horror icons. This year my son chose a lesser known character from the cult favorite Trick 'r Treat! True fans of the genre will recognize Sam Hain immediately as the "Spirit of Halloween" that punishes those that break the rules of the holiday.
Step 1: Thank Goodness for the Internet...
We always start by watching the film in question and researching reference pics from the internet. While we see a lot of little Sam in the movie, there's not much of him without his burlap mask. But, we wanted to do the character with his face exposed because it's more of a challenge AND MUCH COOLER. Luckily, there are artist renditions and action figures of Sam floating about on the internet and a few screen grabs from the film. I suspect some liberties have been taken by other artists as Sam is seen mostly in shadow in the film but, since this is OUR version of the little imp, we decided to take our favorite bits from the references we found to make our mask.
Step 2: Time to Break Out the Clay!
This year both of my kids wanted mask based Halloween costumes. This was great since I already had the materials on hand - clay, hydrocal casting stone, liquid latex, paints, etc... After the success of my daughter's Annabelle mask,( Annabelle Costume ) I felt like an old pro at the process so we jumped right into the sculpture! I took a fiberglass head form (you could easily use a styrofoam head form) and started lumping on the oil based clay. Keep in mind the size of the final mask and your noggin as you start roughing in the mask size.
Sam has a big head so you will need a lot of clay - this is exactly why you start with a head form - not only will it provide support for the heavy clay, it will reduce the amount of material needed. There are different "hardnesses of clay available so, I chose a soft version of the clay in a fleshy/orange color so the sculpture would be more natural than a gray tone.
I took two halves of small bath bomb molds and placed them where I wanted the eyes to be. I did this for a few reasons: First, it maintains a reference point on the sculpture for the anatomy. Second, It allowed me to sculpt eyelids OVER the eye forms as I planned on using the actual plastic "eyes" in the final version of the mask. And, third, It's pretty tough to sculpt a two perfect spheres of the same size. Notice, they are BELOW where my son's eyes were located! I did this as we planned to cut holes above the painted eyes so he could see out of the mask through slits in the area between the brows and the upper eyelid. We also did this as Sam's face is lower than a human's face and this was a good way to force this unnatural anatomy.
I used the reference pics to get general shapes and rough out the initial design. At this point, you want some semblance of the overall character but it doesn't have to be perfect.
PEP TALK: I can't say I'm a great sculptor, but I'm willing to try. Give it a shot, you might be surprised at what you can accomplish. Use a ruler to measure shapes on your reference pics, buy sculpting tools, and watch Youtube videos. Faces are made up of basic shapes (spheres, ovals, squares) that are combined to form the whole. Realize that you can't sculpt an entire head at once. Work on one element at a time - the bridge of the nose, an eyebrow, a cheekbone, etc... I ask my kids, "How do you eat an elephant...? One bite at a time!"
Step 3: Details, Details, Details...
I really wanted to practice working on details on this sculpture. The Annabelle mask I sculpted for my daughter was very smooth as she is a doll made of plastic or porcelain. While Sam isn't human... Hell, I think he's mostly vegetable... pumpkins are a vegetable, no? Let's just agree that he;'s a gourd. Anyway, Sam has plenty of fine lines and wrinkles so, this face would be the perfect time to focus on the little things.
Once I got the general sculpture to a place that I was satisfied, I started detailing his skin. I took a plastic baggy and cut it open and placed it on the surface of his skin. I then took my sculpting tools and began running wrinkles across his face. The plastic softens the harsh lines created by the tools. One thing to note is that I considered his anatomy and musculature to determine how his skin might fold and wrinkle. Additionally, I was able to integrate his "pumpkin-like" qualities into this anatomical consideration. While all wrinkles do not run in the same direction, there are some rules about how they run and why. Study a few pics of older people - or in my case I just look in a mirror. LOL.
Next, I poked "pores" into his skin with a pointed sculpting tool through a piece of plastic wrap. Certainly, it is possible to overdo it, but luckily it's just clay and you can soften anything that isn't working for you. Next, I took the blunt end of a small paintbrush and strategically made indentations where the twine holding parts of his face together should go. I studied my references to determine their positioning. Running actual twine through these holes is a MUCH more satisfying look on a mask like this. I definitely didn't want to sculpt the string as that would not give me the added texture of the rough twine we were looking for.
Step 4: Molding the Monster!
It was time to make the molds and since I had made a mold for my daughter's mask a week or so earlier, I felt like a pro. This level of hubris is never a good thing when dealing with mold making.
As with my Annabelle mask, I watched a couple of VERY helpful videos on mold making to refresh my memory. The videos I watched from "Brick in the Yard Mold Supply" were among the best ( I have no affiliation with them or their channel - just a fan of their videos). 2- part mold making video
We decided to cast the front first as we could lay Sam on his back because there were less details to damage. I figured that I could quickly repair any minor damage AND I had a plan for the back of Sam's head that I had never seen on any fan version of the character - stay tuned for that detail. :)
This time we cut up some old wood per the videos and placed them around the sculpture to reduce the amount of WATER BASED clay needed to build the wall that separates the front and back halves of the mold. We were sure to make the angle of the wall as close to 90 degrees to the sculpt as possible. This prevented chipping and reduced the possibility of a rough seam in the final pull due to broken edges. THIS IS IMPORTANT and where I stumbled a bit on this mold. TAKE YOUR TIME ON THIS! This is also the moment we had to choose WHERE the mask seam would be located. Think this through before committing to your wall placement. I tried to run the seam in-between the pumpkin details on the sides of the head with moderate success.
Then, we took a sculpting tool and dug a trench in the wall about an inch or so all the way around the sculpt. This served two purposes. First, it created a key for aligning the two halves and second, it kept the latex from escaping the mold during dwelling.
Next, it was time to mix the casting medium. I bought a 50lb bag of Hydrocal casting stone as it is MUCH stronger than Plaster of Paris. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Do not use plaster for casting anything important to you. TRUST ME ON THIS!!! Get the good stuff.
One of the most important tips I learned about mixing Hydrocal this time around was the way in which the stone is introduced to the water. In the past, I had always just thrown the plaster into the water and started stirring. This is apparently a no-no! You will want to fill a bucket with water and then slowly sift the hydrocal into the water a handful at a time without mixing it. This process can take 10 or 15 minutes! When the stone has hit it's saturation point, it will look like a dry lakebed on the surface. DO NOT SKIMP OR RUSH THIS PROCESS. The best part is that it will require very little additional mixing and will be a perfect consistency to start brushing on your sculpt.
Using a chip brush, we filled the details in and around the mouth, nose, and eyes. We coated the other surfaces constantly working the plaster into the details and making certain there were no air bubbles. As expected, the oil-based clay repelled the water-based casting stone at first. We continued to work the curing plaster with the brush and finally overcame this reaction and the mold began to take shape as the stone started to set. At this point, we worked fast to make sure we got good coverage over all areas of the mold.
As seen in the Youtube videos, most mold makers use hemp for strength. I have never done that and will probably try that moving forward. I've always used plaster bandages. In the long run, it helps keep the mold from cracking but I'm sure hemp is better.
We waited for the front half to set.
Next, we flipped the mold over and removed the water-based clay wall. We took some paste wax and liberally coated the lip and edges of the mold. We made sure any place where new plaster would be touching old plaster would have a film of wax coating it. This ensured our two halves would not stick together. The process for mixing the Hydrocal and making the back half of the mold was the same as the front so I won't walk through the steps again. We made sure to keep the new plaster from running down the sides of the front of the mold by constantly rubbing/cleaning the area where the two halves met. Once the stone set, we waited...
One tip about Hydrocal... and all plasters/stones, really. As they set, the chemical reaction makes them HOT. You will even see steam coming off of your mold as it cures. Be sure the mold is cold before attempting to open it. Additionally, oil based clays melt with heat. If you de-mold too soon, your clay surface could be VERY soft. This makes the mold difficult to clean. You are better off waiting an hour too long rather than opening it 10 minutes too soon. You will thank me later. :)
It was time to open the mold! We CAREFULLY pried the halves apart with a long screwdriver. Obviously, we were careful not to gouge or crack the mold. This was not 100% successful. The mold locked a little in the neck area and I cracked it while removing the sculpture from the mold. Booo! Luckily, it could be repaired through the magic of Youtube videos and brief web search. Basically, you glue the cracked together with Elmer's glue and fill and chips with a little extra hydocal. Be careful with the extra casting stone as anything you do will appear in your mask. Add as little material as possible. It was a small hiccup but certainly not the end of the project! We cleaned out residual clay and fit the halves back together. Time for latex!
Step 5: Masking the Monster
It was time to pour in the latex. We strapped the two halves together with a ratchet strap and placed the mold inside a 5-gallon bucket to act as a stand. We did our best to make the mouth of the mold as level as possible as this allowed our latex to dwell inside the mold. I bought black latex for the job as I thought it would help in the painting process as any deep recesses and wrinkles would be aided by the black in the latex.
In order to pour a full head mask like this, you need to have enough latex to fill the mold as close to the top as possible. The longer you let the latex dwell, the thicker the mask. We decided to let the latex sit for 3 hours.
In the case of this casting, there was some chipping where the two halves met. I knew we would have an ugly seam to deal with, but otherwise, the mold was fine and I knew we could overcome any minor issues. We smeared some water based clay into the gaps and poured some of the the latex in keeping a lookout for any major leaks.
I carefully took a chip brush and worked the latex into the recesses to reduce the risk of bubbles in the deeper details of the face. Once covered, we finished filling the mold, tapping the sides as we went. Again, our goal was to reduce the possibility of bubbles in the latex. Again, we waited.
After 3 hours, I poured the excess latex back into the bucket. I let the mold sit overnight to dry. Since there were areas that looked thinner in the neck/bib area due to the latex not making it to the very top of the mold during the dwelling, I reinforced the neck with latex dipped paper towels. Once that was dry, it was time to pull the mask from the mold!
Step 6: Trimming and Paint!
Success! I took the latex pull and washed it in the sink. I trimmed the seam with cuticle scissors and used a rotary tool to sand it flat. I dabbed some latex on the problem areas to smooth them out and fill a few holes. Once that dried, I broke out the airbrush and started painting. I based the mask in orange and highlighted with yellows. I shadowed with browns, blacks and dark reds. Once that was done I used a wash of brown/black acrylic paint and wiped the mask down just so the darker colors stayed in the wrinkles and pores I spent so much time sculpting. I was very happy with the end result.
Step 7: Shut Yo' Mouth!
Next, I bought some rough twine and stitched the areas that needed sutures. I used a large, thick needle to pierce the thick latex. You'll notice that I painted Sam's eyes here... which brings me to:
Step 8: The Eyes Have It!
Sam has some pretty interesting eyeballs based on my reference pics. So, I tried a few different things. The original plan was to I print "X" shaped iris/pupils that I made in Photoshop and epoxy them into the INSIDE of the clear plastic eye forms. Then, I painted the rest of the inside with black, This gave me a great looking shiny eyeball with some depth. Not completely happy with my printer's resolution, I attempted to paint the iris's on the latex thereby forgoing the need for the plastic inserts. They looked pretty great but I blew it when I put too much 2-part epoxy gloss on them. Boo! My 3rd attempt was to pour black latex inside the eye forms and use them as a mold. This gave me two rubber inserts that I then Dremeled iris's into. I painted these recesses and then epoxied the whole thing to create some shine and depth. They looked pretty great as well. Decisions, decisions, decisions... Ultimately, I went with the plastic inserts with a little gloss on them. Truthfully, I'm still conflicted. Which eye do you like best?
Step 9: In Da Hood.
For most of Trick 'r Treat, Sam wears a giant, round, burlap mask. We liked that look as well but wanted to see Sam's face! So, we built Sam's burlap mask as a hood. In one scene in the movie, Sam reveals his face by cutting the stitches out of the mouth of the burlap mask. So, we took a burlap sack, cut it round, stitched it back together and made a rough burlap mask with the details from the movie. Then, we cut a slit for the mouth and sewed the edges with the twine as if the string had been cut. This gave us the perfect head opening, allowing the sack to hang behind Sam's head like a burlap hoodie. I added a few buttons for eyes and some rope around his neck. As you can see, this really brought more character to the mask. We were headed in the right direction...
Step 10: In the Mouth of Madness...
We decided that Sam should have some teeth... and a tongue. So, we sculpted an inner mouth in clay, made a mold, poured latex, painted and glossed. To secure it in the mask, we put a velcro strip inside the mask under the chin and the matching piece of velcro on the bottom of the inner mouth. This took some adjusting but we made it all fit. This addition allowed my son to open and close Sam's mouth as he opened and closed his own. Finally, I cast a couple of other teeth (you can see the stray teeth in the overhead shot) and glued them to the back of the upper lip.
Step 11: I'm Gonna Get You Sucka!
Sam's weapon of choice is a half eaten sucker so we made one of those as well. We sculpted the jack-o-lantern candy in clay, and cast it in hydrocal. I was sure to paint the mold with wax to make the resin easy to pull from the mold. I mixed a little orange paint into the resin for color. I put a wooden stick into the resin as it set. We painted the black details with acrylic paint after pulling from the mold. I finished with orange tape on the stick for the final spiral design detail and cleared everything with a glossy spray paint.
Step 12: What to Wear?
Usually we dig around at the local thrift stores for the clothing. How hard could it be to find an orange onesie? Answer: IMPOSSIBLE! So, I turned to Etsy and found someone making Sam onesies. I had a few "screen accurate" requests that we wanted the seamstress to include. We opted for burlap patches rather than yellow and a more correct "butt-flap" with buttons.
Unfortunately, the USPS dropped the ball and it didn't make it in time for Son of Monsterpalooza in Burbank, CA in mid-September, So, the night before we scrambled and re-dyed a 5 Night's at Freddies' footie pajama we found at Target, painted and glued burlap squares to. We turned it around so the back was now the front. I spent the night readying and airbrushing the impromptu costume. It worked out great in a pinch and, in some ways, I think looks better than the one that we got later in terms of weathering and coloration.
When the Etsy costume arrived, we dirtied it up based on our reference pics using a spray bottle of watered down brown/black acrylic paints. When weathering costumes, think about where the clothing would be in contact with dirt and water- feet, cuffs, elbows, butt, neck, etc... That's where you should put the most "dirt."
Step 13: Putting It All Together!
We just barely got this costume pulled together for the Son of Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank, CA. We try to go to this convention in September as it gives us an early deadline to get their costumes together AND the kids can walk around for a few hours to see what pulls, pinches, and tugs. This way, we can make final adjustments before Halloween and we concentrate on more important things on the big day - like CANDY....
Step 14: TRICK 'R TREAT!!!
Hope you like it! Leave any questions or comments below!