Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Ootini part 2 of (now 3) - the mask

Constructing the eyes of a Jawa costume really deserves its own post so I've decided to split the mask post in two.

Sadly I did not have time to take pictures during the construction process, but I've reconstructed what I could using pictures of the completed items.

photo credit: Bill Nolan
The mask base: 
Starting with a plain plastic craft mask I cut the nostrils into one hole and cut the mouth out of the mask entirely. Structurally this is pretty much how I wore it the first day.

I had a lot of issues with my breath and sweat condensing on the inside of the mask and the pull of the entire mask was pretty much suspended on the bridge of my nose giving me a wicked sinus headache and raw bruised feeling across my nose by the end of the first night.

This was compounded by the fact that the mask fit the length of my face fine... as long as my mouth was closed. Any time I opened my mouth my chin hit the inner chin of the mask pulling it down tighter on my nose and I had to push it back up into place regularly.

For the second day I cut the upper lip out entirely and removed as much of the chin of the mask as I could. To add some padding for my nose and keep the mask off my face I sliced up several disposable squishy foam earplugs into approx. 1/4 inch thick pieces and glued them in a pattern I hoped would comfortably distribute the weight.
This worked really well, and in fact every single time I wear a mask for something I kick myself at some point in the evening for not doing this.
The staining on the forehead pads is blue hairdye.

What would I do different?
I think I cut a little more of the plastic out of this mask every single time I wear it.

Given my druthers I would completely rework the base structure of the mask leaving as little material touching my face as possible. Ideally I would have something suspended well off of my face like glasses with enough structure to attach the eye lights at the cheekbone level, the drape to cover the lower face, and some sort of superlight framework for the forehead area to attach the covering cloth.

Airspace and cheek area stability are the key elements. My current pie in the sky design would be an open-worked metal eye mask frame with a simple forehead cage.

The covering and attachments:

The black covering for the mask is a stretchy black velvet material which I attached with a hot glue gun. The upper part of the face down to the underside of the cheekbones was glued down to conform to the shape of the face. There are two draped pieces covering the mask, one from the cheekbones and one from the chin, which helped conceal the shape of my face and any part of my neck that might have been exposed by the hood. I think doing it draped from the bridge of the nose as I did probably made it a lot easier to breathe and meant that I could cut away a lot of the mask when I realized the problems of the first day.

Closeup of the eye covering and light and elastic attachment points
The mask eye holes were backed with a rubbery shelf liner material and glued on with white PVA glue. I was worried the glue would melt from my sweat but it has held up for several years now. In all but the most direct and brightly lit shots the eye camouflage worked shockingly well and often people looking directly into my face had to ask where I was looking out of. I learned to ignore the mesh pattern very quickly and had fantastic field of vision, probably the best I've ever had in a costume with a full face mask (the hood does disrupt that somewhat).

Holes for the eye lights and elastic strap to hold the mask on were drilled using a pin vice and drill (which went through everything extremely easily) and the attachments were wired down with anodized craft wire. Any small patches of white around any fabric edges were touched up using black acrylic paint, which I also used to cut some of the shine of the hot glue wherever it was visible.

What would I do different?
In a re-do I would probably switch to a glue with less shine and more working time, and would definitely use a more breathable material. I am not prone to overheating but this costume is VERY warm.
If using a mask I think I would attach the eye camouflage last instead of first to make it easier to cut the eye holes out of the fabric face covering. A better mask material would probably be silk noil as it has the right matte finish to absorb the light, it is light, airy, and drapes well, and it is shockingly cheap.

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