Gorilla under construction

Gorilla maskI’m in an improvised comedy show next month, which mostly explains why I am spending this afternoon creating a mask for the eponymous Gorilla.

So far, I’ve finished a rough clay form over a plaster cast, next step will be draping it with a thermoplastic sheet (Instamorph) and then will be painting and adding fur.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, not bad at all . . .

Working up a mask from life

I spent last weekend in a portrait class that focused on understanding how faces twist to express emotions.  On Sunday we worked from a live model in one long pose (the expression collectively chosen was ‘anxious’).  The rest of the class worked in 2D, using paints, pastels and pencil to capture a likeness.  I decided to instead use clay and Instamorph to create the base for a mask.  It was an interesting challenge!

Next step: taking the white mask base and painting it, adding in eyes etc.     With his permission, I took photos of the lovely model, and will use them to help finish the mask.

Model and clay base

Model and clay base

instamorph mask

Model and mask

Masks at the park #1

Masks in the park

Playing in the uncanny valley

I visited a local park with some of my Instamorph masks to take photographs – I’m always fascinated about what a different thing a mask becomes when it is worn, vs hanging empty on  a wall.  And worn in public, instead of on a stage, the mask changes again.

Proper magic

My wax makings turned into little copper and silver things via the magic of centrifugal casting. “Make the metal dance” was a specific instruction from the tutor as I applied a large flame to the scraps of old electrical wire which became the copper beads.  Now there’s the less magic cleaning and polishing to do.

skull bead

Skull bead, just cast and rinsed

skull and rose beads and mask

Silver and copper beads and mask, ready for cleaning up

Nosy, very nosy

I’ve been making some “less than half” masks – some manly character noses for stage use.  This one is going really quite large.  Pics here of the clay sculpt, and then after being draped in a low temperature thermoplastic – I used Instamorph, heated and rolled into sheets, then dipped in boiling water for draping.  Now comes the trimming, painting and the adding of moustaches to this and other noses I’ve made in the last few days.


noses and half mask

1st coat of paint




Making masks

I’ve been making some masks over the last few weeks – using a low temperature melt thermoplastic (Instamorph, a similar product – but more expensive – product is sold under the brand Polymorph, both very similar to the stuff used in medical splints).  This made into sheets, heated and draped over a clay form.  Intended for active wear and performance, these have been painted with acrylic paint and varnished.  I am trying out ways to ‘do’ eyes, as I want examples of different styles for a workshop happening soon.