Adventures In Mask Making

I need to find some place that will make a life cast of my head.

This year I decided that my costume for the Sixth Annual Monster Mash for Literacy Bash
1 would be Dr. Decker from Nightbreed.2 This is actually a pretty easy costume since Decker wears a suit and rain coat for most of the film. I acquired a machete (from the Zombie Response Team) and a pair of mesh gloves of the type used by butchers from eBay. All that was left was the creepy over the head hood mask thing which Decker wears while butchering people.4

It was a little difficult finding a fabric to match what the hood is made of. I eventually settled on an off white linen blend thing. It is a little lighter than the mask in the movie, but I think it is OK. I was thinking about darkening it with a little spray paint, but I was worried about what that might do to my head if I wore it for an extended period of time.

The main challenge was cutting the mask so it fits properly. The hood in the film is very tight fitting. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve when working with fabric. I tried a number of different ways of creasing, folding, and stitching before The Mrs finally struck on the solution — to cut and stitch the fabric in a curve like the seams of a baseball.

I had purchased two different potential fabrics. I made a mock up of the mask using the fabric that I had more of, coincidentally not the one I ended up using.
5 I puzzled over getting it to fit snug under the chin for more than a week.

The problem with pinning a mask that you will be wearing is that you are wearing the mask in construction while you are attempting to pin it. If this does not sound easy you are right.
6 I managed to not jab myself in the jugular, but it was a near thing.

I finally
7 had a couple of days to sit down with the mask. It went smoothly, but slowly. I tried to get that under the chin bit on my own a couple of times, but wasn’t able to. Finally I had to wait until The Mrs was free so she could pin the thing while it was on my head.

Placing grommets is actually a lot of fun. The back of the mask laces up with a leather thong. That part was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.

Unfortunately, the zipper mouth portion was more difficult than I thought it would be. Part of the problem was that I had forgotten to purchase a zipper. While this seems like something that would be easy to solve, it was in fact quite a pain in the ass. I lost the better part of two hours getting to and from the fabric store due to construction and broken down cars which were everywhere. I also learned that when putting in a zipper, it is important to change the foot on the machine. I stopped sewing when I broke a needle (since I had no idea how to put a new needle on).

For the button eye portion of the mask I am using the lenses from a pair of round sunglasses. This part had me worried because I wasn’t sure if we had a glue strong enough to hold them on the fabric. I glued them on last night. The fumes from the adhesive stripped away some of the tinting on the lenses and melted the styrofoam head that the mask was on
8.

I think that they will stay. Now my worry is that the glue will burn out my eyes or at least mess with my brain.

The last thing I need to do is make the lenses look like buttons by painting a small white cross on each so it looks like they are stitched in place. Naturally, the White Out I planned to use is all dried and crunchy.

So it is off to the store I go.

1 By the time you read this the party will be over, but I’m sure that anyone who came had an amazing time.

2 Technically from the Clive Barker novel
Cabal but I am actually modeling the costume after David Cronenberg’s character in the movie.3

3 I can’t wait for the expended version of the film, currently dubbed The Cabal Cut, to be released. For years there were rumors about lost footage which would make the film more like the novel and clean up some confusing bits. After years, editors are at working putting this together. With any luck it will be released next year.

4 Oops, spoilers.

5 In other news, I have a huge amount of beige fabric for sale.

6 It is actually less easier than it sounds. It is almost as hard to deal with as the poor grammar in the previous sentence.

7 After completing the props for The Mrs’ costume.

8 Before you ask, the wig form heads are much smaller than my giant mellon. They are good for holding things in place while you work on them, but not very useful when trying to size things for pinning and measuring.