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HOW TO MAKE A LATEX MASK
block of wood for base, pipe screwed to the wood
or a Sculpting Stand
Oil Based clay such as Roma Plastilina or Chavant
Water based clay (W.E.D.) or Klean Klay
Basic Sculpting Tool Kit
Crystal Clear Spray
Ultra Cal 30
Hemp or burlap
Acetone or 244 Fluid
RD407 Mask Latex
Latex Paint Base
Roma Plastelina or Chavant Clay is most preferred by sculptors in the field of FX. Roma and Chavant come in an assortment of consistency. #2 or #3 Roma is mostly used for this application as it's in the medium range. In Chavant La Baeu Tuche' is about medium, and the HM is especially good for hot weather places.
A good place to start when deciding on tools is to get a sculpting tool kit. Look for one that has 1 or 2 wire end tools, a modeling tool, flexible palettes and maybe a sponge.
Sculpting stands are sometimes available already made, or you can make your own with a wooden base, a threaded pipe which can be threaded into hardware that is screwed onto the wooden base. Taking a styrofoam head, push it onto the pipe until the base meets wood. You can just use clay, but using some sort of armature cuts down on how much clay you'll need.
Preparing your space:
Make a space for your piece, you'll need a bit of room as you'll use that space for sculpting, mold making, pouring and painting. Put cardboard or heavy plastic on the floor and on your working surface to protect everything. It's going to get messy.
Design your piece:
It's always a good idea to decide what you're going to do before you dig in. Photos or sketches laid out or tacked to the wall for reference. If you're making a humanoid, then pictures of real faces, either young or old makes great reference material once you have the piece started.
To begin sculpting you will need your stand, clay, tools and vaseline.
Begin by coating you head stand with a very light coating of vaseline. This will help clay stick to the stand. Once vaseline is on, wipe hands clean and begin to put clay on stand until completely covered.
There aren't any set ways to sculpt. It's a feeling, an art. Studying human anatomy will help seeing which area are raised, inset, wrinkled, tight, etc. In symmetry, natural symmetry, no two sides are the same. Don't worry about being perfect, you can be accurate, but not perfect.
Texture can be achieved in a number of ways with a texture pad or sponge. A texture pad is more like a rubber stamp. A favorite texture used by many artists is an orange peel. Using a small amount of latex at a time, paint on layer after layer until you build up 5 coats. Let dry completely and peel it off. By pressing this rubber stamp into the clay you can get a porous texture, closest to a skin texture.
Your sculpture is done and your ready to mold it. Spray your piece with Crystal Clear spray, this will help keep the clay from sticking inside the plaster after the mold is done.
If you're using Water clay cut 1" thick slabs off of your brick. If you're using Klean Klay combine them to make walls you will be placing along the seams of your finished mask. Divide your sculpture in two (mentally first) then begin to put the 1" strips on the dividing line. Once in place, you may add reference keys (small half spheres of clay added to the dividing line). These will help you fit the two halves of the mold together later. Spray the wall with Crystal Clear.
At this point cut several 10" strips of burlap. If you're using hemp take small amounts and rolling with your hands make small pads out of them.
Ultra Cal 30 is a gypsum that is preferred by most mask makers. To mix Ultra Cal 30 you will need: buckets, water, Ultra Cal 30 and a mixing stick. You'll be making up a couple of batches of the plaster mixture so don't start with a very large amount or it will set up in the bucket. You have about 30 minutes to work with the mixture. Put half the total amount you'll want to start with in water in a bucket. Adding plaster will double the end amount. Slowly sift in the dry plaster until the surface looks like a dry river bed. Do not mix until you reach this point. Them mix it thoroughly making sure all plaster is dissolved in the water. Tap bucket on the floor to agitate air bubbles out of the mix. Once mixed immediately begin to paint on (with a chip brush) your splash coat. Make sure you cover entire front half including the wall and keys. You'll be doing one side at a time. Mos people start on the front. Continue applying until all plaster is used up.
Mix a second batch of plaster. This time you will be dipping the burlap, or hemp pads into the plaster mixture and placing them onto the splash coat. Do not extend the burlap/hemp onto the wall, stop just short instead. After you finished the burlap/hemp coat mix up a third batch of plaster. Apply this to the top as a third coat. It's okay to go onto the wall and build that up also.
Ultra Cal will heat up once it starts curing. Then it will cool down when complete. Allow this to happen before proceeding to the back end of your piece.
Once the front half has cooled, remove clay wall carefully so you don't damage sculpture. Clean up edges with sure form tool available at any hardware store. Clean off any clay residue or plaster dust. Coat plaster wall with vaseline, especially keys. Place 3 or 4 1" strips of clay in placed along the outer edge of the wall. This is where you'll pry the mold open. Repeat all plaster steps for back half of mold.
Once plaster has completely cooled wait at least an hour before you separate molds. Plaster actually takes 7 days to fully cure, but an hour after cooling is fine. If you pull it too soon it will weaken the plaster mold and it won't last very long. Taking a couple of screw drivers carefully and slowly pry the mold apart.
Once apart you will need to clean both halves with acetone or Silicone fluid. You might need to get out a toothbrush, nothing else more abrasive as you don't want to scratch your mold. Once clean, place mold halves together and using mold straps secure them together. You are now ready to pour a mask.
Pouring the latex:
Place your mold upside down into a five gallon bucket. Make sure you also have plastic sheeting or newspaper on the ground. This might get messy.
Pour latex using a measuring cup or large ladle to spoon latex around the neck area, cover all areas exposed. Start filling the mold with latex. To get rid of all bubbles you might want to attach a chip brush, on an angle to a paint stick and going into the latex sitting in the mold, brush the sides to loosen any trapped bubbles. It's always best to fill the mold. Also hitting the sides of the mold will loosen trapped bubbles sending them to the surface. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes then pour out and save excess latex.
If you don't have enough latex to fill mold you can try rolling the mold around, a technique called slushing. You'd have to do it a few times to build up the latex.
Turn mold over to let latex drain off. After completely drained, let mold stand uncovered upside down until latex cures. It might take up to 24 hours for the latex to cure, depending on size of opening at the neck, heat and humidity in the room.
Pull the Mask:
Pour a little baby powder into neck hole and smooth all around the inside of the mask. Now, starting at neck begin pulling cured latex away from mold until completely loose. Remove mask from mold. Immediately place mask on a stand or stuff with newspaper and allow to sit for a while, until completely cured.
Cut out eyes, mouth and nose holes using a small scissors. You might have to use a dremel tool to clean around edges and seams that separate the front and back. Clean entire mask with a scrub brush and water. Let dry.
Time to Paint:
You need a latex based paint so it will stick directly to the mask. Using latex paint base add a few drops at a time of preferred color. You can either airbrush the paint on or hand paint it.
For blood effects FX Warehouse also carries blood paint just for this purpose. After the paint job is finished seal your pieces with either flat or glossy flexible sealer.
For more information on this subject purchase the ‘The Art of Creating Latex Masks' which is in our DVD/Video section.
Disclaimer: FX Warehouse Inc. will not be responsible for use of misuse of any products you may buy or use from us. Most of our products are for Professional Use only. Use at your own risk.