How to Make a Leather Mask
Masks have been a part of human culture since prehistoric times. Shamans used them to contact the spirit world. Ancient Greece actors switched roles with the donning of a new mask. Today we don masks for fun or role play. Masks can be made of many different materials, as plain as a black mask or as fanciful as a plaster casting covered with jewels and feathers.
Things You'll Need
- Card stock
- X-acto knife
- Scotch tape
- Vegetable tanned leather
- Face form
- Leather hole puncher
- Leather dyes or acrylic paints and brushes
Design and Cutting
Sketch out ideas until you have a design. Masks can be full face or half face, with odd shapes and ridges, feelers and extensions. Keep your first project simple.
Fold your card stock in half. Stand in front of a mirror and hold the card stock with the fold lining up with the center of your nose. Trace out the eye hole placement. Mark the bottom of your nose. If making a full face, mark out the mouth area.
Pencil in your design on one side of the card stock. Check the design in the mirror and correct for size and shape. Make any adjustments. Use an X-acto knife to cut out the eye and mouth, if needed. Check the mirror once more for fit. With the card stock still folded, cut the template out.
Position your opened template on the leather to take advantage of natural grain and color. Tape the template in place with scotch tape then trace the design onto the leather. Transfer the leather to a hard surface, such as a mat board, and cut out with the X-acto knife.
Wet molding the mask
Wet the leather thoroughly. Leather conforms to shaping as it dries. Once soaked, wring out excess water and pat dry. Let the mask rest for approximately 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't dry out too quickly.
Apply the damp mask to a face form, or you can slap it on your own face. Press in at the sides of the nose and outside eyes to conform to your cheekbones. Hold in place to begin shaping. You can use a hair dryer in spurts to speed up the process.
Pinch in interesting creases and folds as the leather begins to dry and hold its shape. Take care not to overheat the leather. Leave it to dry on its own once you've reached the desired shape. Before it dries completely, punch in tie holes on each side.
Paint your mask with leather dyes or acrylic paints. Use glaze or varnish to seal the colors in place. Add any other ornamentation. Fasten tie laces.
- Skin oils can discolor the leather or interfere with the dye process. Wash your hands often as you handle your mask.
- Use X-acto knives to cut out leather. Scissors can stretch the material.