It’s been much too long since I made any masks.
And I’ve never made a classic latex mask using a plaster mould. My masks have all been one-off creations in instamorph, baring some very early efforts with papier mâché. I’ve always thought I should know how to work in the basic method that so many other mask-makers use.
Soo, this week, I’m taking advantage of a short course at a nearby university, run by a properly famous creature creator, Jordu Schell. Today was Day Three, when we all finished our sculptures, covered them in casting plaster, and then cleaned our moulds of clay.
It was a pleasant novelty to take a sculpt to a really finished texture, fully creating a character in clay. This is not my usual mask-making process, when detail is added directly on the mask’s plastic surface. The clay we used, WED clay is also new to me. It’s not made to be fired, and is smooth and firm and very slow drying. I even made some new tools last night to help me create the scales on my glum reptile’s skin, inspired by a cunning tiny loop that another student made with old guitar string and a chopstick. Mine used ukulele string, clay wire, and Instamorph handles.
I should have done more research on reptile skin techniques before beginning to hand-draw scales, as I was slightly cross eyed by the end. But I’m pretty happy with where I got to.
Tomorrow when the moulds are dry it will be time to pour the latex, while Friday will be the fun of finishing and painting. I am taking many notes, which I hope will still make sense when I eventually try to follow them.
Glump, ready to get plastered
Tiny tiny tools
The improvised Fringe show I’m a player in this year is Attack of the Killer B-Movie. Naturally a chance to use some ol’ favourite monster masks in the promotion and flyering! Should you be in Wellington some evening between Tue 16 Feb and Fri 19 Feb 2016, I can promise this show will be a fun way to spend an hour.
Among the masks made for scifi improv show Return to the Planet, a trio of bug-eyed bugs, denizens of Planet Beelzebub. Dressed up in one of these (with a fetching green velvet medieval gown to complete the ensemble), handing out flyers for the show was surprisingly easy. A buzz even (ow, don’t hit me). I was amused as always by the people who pretended not to see me – it takes real determination to ignore a giant fly walking through the central city on a weekday lunchtime.
The mask is made of Instamporph, over a clay sculpt, the eyes are plastic hi-bounce balls, cut in half and lined with kitchen-drawer liner foil. The paint is acrylic, with texture from those micobeads sold for scrap booking, under a couple of layers of clear acrylic sealer. Antenna made of instamorph over wire – although I had to go back and thicken them up, as my initial efforts proved a little fragile.
Hanging up to dry
Trio with antenna
Look into my eyes
The flyer that was flyered
Creatures, getting ready for ‘Return to the Planet’ in the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival
Mask for ‘Return to the Planet’, as happened during the 2014 Comedy Festival.
Next alien creature mask for Return to the Planet : experimenting with a race genetically derived from big cats – in this case, a jaguar. The mask base is instamorph, draped over a clay sculpt, with the teeth moulded separately. The whiskers are re-purposed old ukulele strings. The painting (in acrylic) is still rough, just to work out the idea.
That sensible reason being that Cyclops+Unicorn=Cylicorn. The alternative result of using an Earth based myth-referencing concatenation system of nomenclature is Uniclops. And, somehow that doesn’t have quite the right ring.
Cylicorns are just one of many species that could inhabit The Planet in May.