Creating a Full Head Latex Mask – Part-1 of 4

This is a four-part article on how to create a professional looking full head latex mask. Creating a full head mask (a mask that completely covers the head as opposed to just a front face mask), can seem a bit challenging, yet the steps to success are not complicated and can be accomplished without a great deal of skill – that is if you already ready have the model for the mask you will make. If not, then the process of creating full head latex mask begins with you creating a full head sculpture.

Making the Armature

You don’t have to be a trained sculptor to create a satisfactory model, just willing to plunge ahead a have fun while doing it. Since latex shrinks as it dries, the first thing we need to think about is that your sculpture must be made 15-20% larger than the actual finished size. This is an important caveat, as if you forget about the shrinkage factor, though your finished mask may be executed beautifully in all other respects, you will not be able to fit it over your head.

We suggest using a Styrofoam head as an armature (an armature is the frame work that will support you clay layers as you build up you sculpture). They are available at hobby stores or online. Fasten the Styrofoam head to a board or piece of glass with a hot glue gun so that it will remain upright and won’t move around as you add clay. To increase the size of the head allowing for shrinkage you can wrap it with layers of bubble wrap and packing tape.

Choosing your Clay

You next consideration is they type of clay you will use to create the head mask sculpture. A medium or soft Plasticine clay is a good choice, but many special effect artists use WED clay (Standing for Walter Elias Disney as it was developed for Disney studio work) which is a water-based clay and handles application well. The only downside is that it must be constantly kept wet or it will begin to crack. Sculptor use a spray bottle with water to give a spritz every now and then and cover their work with a plastic cloth with a damp sponge if left overnight. This article is not an attempt to teach clay sculpture as you can find some wonderful video shorts on YouTube to provide you with excellent instructions should need it. But whether it is Plasticine, WED(tm) or even Scupley(tm) you need create the look of your final head mask in your choice of materials. It only matters that you are comfortable with you material. It doesn’t matter which clay type you choose. For when the mask is complete no one will know or care about the type of clay.

Selecting the Mold Making Material

So that once your original the clay sculpture is completed, the next step is to build your mold. The mold must be made from a porous material because of the chemistry of the mask making latex. All mask making latex begins to cure when exposed to air, so that if you pour the liquid latex into a mold of, say silicone, for example, it will not cure properly. At least it will fail to cure on the outside of the skin where the latex touches the inside of the mold. That is because no air will reach it as the silicone wall is not porous. Thus, the need for a mold material that is porous, such as certain plasters. These are called casting plasters in the trade and they are readily available in ceramic stores as well as through the Internet.

Part 2 of Creating a Full Head Latex Mask will cover the making of the two-part mold, creating the parting line, adding mold keys and adding the plaster.

Part 3 of Creating a Full Head Latex Mask will teach the pouring of the latex casting materials, curing the mask, de-molding and trimming

Part 4 of Creating a Full Head Latex Mask will teach painting and finishing.

Post time: 02-22-2017