Using the sponge, wet the front and back of
one section of the leather. I usually start with either the eyebrow ridge
or the nose as these can both be strongly creased sections. Start folding
and molding the leather so that it begins to show the features you are
Approximately 12" X
12" Piece of 4-5 oz. Vegetable Tanned, Grade 1 Leather (Live Oak
works best but is not necessary)
Dish of Water
Artist or Drafting Tape
Various Adornments if
Desired (i.e., buttons, feathers, charms, fibers)
Krylon Gold Leafing Pen
Continue to wet an area and then form it. You
will need to hold each area as it dries somewhat (1 or 2 minutes, usually)
and holds its shape. This is not a project for people with weak hands.
Use tools to help, if you'd like. I like to
use the rounded handle of a leather working tool that I have to help push
out rounded areas. I also use a lot of binder clips. It's important to do
most of the work from the back as the leather is very easy to crease. Be
sure to watch that you don't crease the leather with your fingernails too.
If you absolutely must pinch an area from the front and you need to
use a clip, fold a scrap piece of leather into the clip so that you only
have leather touching your mask, no metal. It is also important to only
form leather that is wet. If you try to fold dry leather there is a good
chance that it will crack.
It may take several hours to form the face.
Work slowly and on only one area at a time. The nose, eyebrow ridge and
lips seem to be the easiest parts to form.
As the face starts to take shape you will
probably find yourself going in a very different direction than you
originally planned. Don't fight it.
When you are finished forming the face,
draw an eye shape on a piece of scratch paper. Place this where you want
one eye and trace it. Turn the eye shape over and place it on the opposite
side of the face and trace it again. Use the cutter (now would be an
excellent time to put in a new blade) to carefully cut out the eye holes.
Once the face is to your liking and is dry,
use the acrylic paint to adorn your mask. Almost any dye ink will work
too, so experiment! Stamping on the leather works great but you will need
to do it before you start forming the face. Since it's almost impossible
to get the features exactly where you want them, you'll want your stamping
to be random. You won't be able to place it exactly where you want. If you
do decide to stamp you can use dye ink or you can use fabric or Crafter's
Ink and heat set it. If you want to use a button or hanging fibers, you
can cut a hole with a cutter (X-Acto type) or a Dremel.
If you want to seal the mask (not really
necessary) you can spray or brush polyurethane on. Be sure to read the
instructions as this is a high odor product!
The mask will have a much more finished
appearance if you use the leafing pen to outline the entire thing,
including the eyes. Leafing pens are another product that can be
dangerous. Be sure to do this in a well ventilated area.
On the mask in this article I made a tear
drop by cutting a tear shape out of Friskit (a low tack film available at
most art stores). I then placed the mortise mask (the reverse of the tear
drop) onto the mask and colored it in using the leafing pen. I then
removed the Friskit and cleaned up any areas that weren't perfect.