Tutorial: Making of Bird Mask

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Okay so I do have a bit of info in regard to the making of the bird mask, but this will be a little bit light in regard to a tutorial because I’m writing it after the fact. After looking closely at some the masks at Faerieworlds as mentioned in the previous post, I began to think differently about what was possible with leather. This was Summer 2009.

Fast forward to October 2009, several days before Halloween. I got a last minute invite to a pre-Halloween party, and word was, it was going to be SWEET. I needed a mask, and quick.

With this in mind, I knew that I wanted a long narrow hooked beak, and lots of tree branch type shapes at the top, possibly some feathers. I banged out a design without time for hesitation or regret. I wet formed it and stuck it in the oven to dry on the quick. After it came out of the oven, I hit it with some Eco-Flo Java Brown leather dye. (Eco-Flo is water-based, environmentally friendly, 100% biodegradable, etc.) A couple quick coats of Fiebing’s Tan-Kote sealer (so the dye doesn’t bleed and stain your skin) and I was off to the party wearing a ridiculous costume that didn’t make any sense. At least I could hide behind this awesome handmade leather mask that I made start to finish in about 1.5 hours.

I drew out my design on some paper notebook paper to test the shape and see if I could accurately approximate the final shape I had in mind. I used a technique I had seen of drawing eyelashes into the design so I could fold them up later during the wet forming.

As it turned out, while at the party a random girl came up to me and said “Is that mask of a leafy sea dragon?! It reminds me of a leafy sea dragon!” (See leafy sea dragon.)  Well, no it’s not a leafy sea dragon, but in retrospect I can see why it would remind her of one. The more you know. I met a new friend because of it.  That’s the power of creativity.

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