Making a Mask

Posted by Jennifer Syas on 09 January, 2017 1 comment

One of the questions I get most often is, "How do you make a mask?" On seeing them, some people don't realize that masks are made of leather. A lot of people think I use some kind of mold, or form. I don't, I often rest them on a Styrofoam head to dry, but just so they stay the way I formed them. Some designs I can let dry just standing up on my desk.

It can be a long process to explain, and I don't think the list really helps people picture it, so I've created a time lapse video of the whole process, start to finish. (The one step I don't show is spraying it with sealant, since I do that outside.)

The steps I go through are as follows:

     • take a piece of 6-7 oz vegtan leather and soak it in cool water. 

     •dry off the leather so it's not dripping

     •trace the pattern onto the leather

     •cut out the mask

     •carve the design into the mask

     •round of the edges of the leather on the front and back (there is an edging tool for pieces with a simpler outline, but since it doesn't fit in between the feathers of the wings, I just use my Xacto blade for the whole thing. Also, I normally do this step before the carving, but making the video made me a little nervous so I did it out of order.)

     •mold the mask into the desired shape

     •set the mask to dry, usually overnight.

     •dye the mask

     •paint the mask, with multiple coats

     •sign the mask

     •(this is when I would seal the mask, not shown in the video)

     •cut ribbons, melting the ends to prevent fraying

     •attach ribbons

     •The mask is finished! 

     I hope you enjoyed our video! If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear them. If you have an ideas for future blog posts, we'd love to hear that too!

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  1. Michael January 30, 2019

    I’ve recently gotten into leatherworking and I love this video. The biggest problem I have found is finding a good starting point. A template of a basic mask that I cen then work from and make my own designs from. The mask that I’m making at the moment is me basically taking leather and forming it over a head then trying to cut away what is not needed. And I’ll be honest, It’s rough looking. Lol. Any helpful advice on making my own template?