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How to build a mask...

Mon Feb 2, 2009, 7:37 AM
Of some interest, perhaps.

So many people have been asking me how I make my masks, I decided to write a couple of "tutorial" entries in my LiveJournal, with pictures!  Go here for the first part:
merimask.livejournal.com/17509…
And the second part is here:
merimask.livejournal.com/17510…

I hope any aspiring mask artists out there find this to be helpful.  At least it'll give you some insight into how I do what I do...since I'm self-taught these are my own weird trade secrets & methods.

  • Reading: Harry Turtledove's "Ruled Britannia"...i
  • Watching: Sasuke, mostly. Or CNN whatever...
  • Playing: Pikmin when I need a break
  • Eating: still too much chocolate!
  • Drinking: still not enough water!
Add a Comment:
 
:iconazametta:
Azametta Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for this!! :)
Reply
:iconfisticuff-cosplay:
Fisticuff-Cosplay Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2012
Thanks a million for this tutorial! We'll post what we do with it <3
Reply
:iconmorwynn:
Morwynn Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This tutorial is fantastic and can be applied to so many different things in leather. I was wondering what is your take on using 4oz leather for masks? Thank you so much for sharing and helping to educate those of us who are starting out.
Reply
:iconineedamaster:
INeedAMaster Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Student Photographer
i have been following your work for a while and i just saw the tutorial..AWESOME!!! i am really glad that you shared it with us because not many artists will.
Reply
:iconwhitewingedangelgirl:
WhiteWingedAngelGirl Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Have u ever watched the japanese anime, Ginga Densetsu Weed? or Wolf's Rain? i recon character masks of the character would be so fricken cool, so if you decide to watch em or make the masks, obviously in your own time, can u message me? PLEASE? i would love to see my fav characters come to life in your masks!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm a huge anime nerd...I actually did do a Wolfs Rain "Tsume" once, with his cute scar.

Plus, I named my husky "Kiba". [link]

Huge, huge anime nerd. I don't do anime masks often though 'cause of copyright issues.
Reply
:iconwhitewingedangelgirl:
WhiteWingedAngelGirl Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Oh right, Damn! never mind....i was just thinking of my fave character in Ginga Densetsu Weed, he's a ginger and white Borzoi called Rocket.
FYI he has two brothers called Jet and Missle who are brown. Borzoi are one of my fav breeds!
Huskies are too since i have two, hehe.
Kiba is adorable btw!
Reply
:iconkirschetea:
KirscheTea Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2009  Professional General Artist
Wow, your art really makes me want to give mask making a shot. All of your work is wonderful, and it seems like it must be fun.

Excellent tutorial by the way!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks, I'm glad it was enlightening. :-)
Reply
:icongarbagelicker:
GarbageLicker Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2009  Student General Artist
Ahh! Thank you so much for adding this! It's very informative.
Now I only wonder if faux leather would work, as well. :giggle:
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Mmmm...nope. Faux leather is made of plastic, & will melt.
Reply
:icongarbagelicker:
GarbageLicker Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2009  Student General Artist
Awh darn. :(
Reply
:iconwindfalcon:
windfalcon Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for this tutorial. I've been planning on trying my hand at a leather mask for quite some time, and your tutorial is exactly what I was looking for. :) Your masks are lovely, by the way!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome. :-) I'm glad it was helpful information.
Reply
:icona-rth-urp-hil-ipdenu:
fantastic tutorial! its amazing to see the process of making such incredible masks, i was wondering what got you into mask making in the first place? and did you always work in leather? it seems like a scary media when you start off.
Reply
:iconbigvallysgirl:
bigvallysgirl Featured By Owner May 22, 2009  Professional Interface Designer
After looking at all the work you put into your mask I think you are way under charging. They should be a collector's item. But your work is very beautiful I wish you the best.
Reply
:iconeschlehahn:
eschlehahn Featured By Owner May 22, 2009
The tutorials are simply awesome. Thanks for taking the effort and time to share some knowledge about mask-making.

I have a livejournal page too and I'd love to read more of you in future. Mind if I add you to my friendslist there ?
Reply
:iconanimegirlfroggy:
animegirlfroggy Featured By Owner May 3, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I found you through your amazing entry in the your secret graden contest. I was curious on two accounts 1) Do you take commissions 2) If you took commissions would you ever consider scaling them for say a doll?
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Yes, I take commissions (contact me at my etsy shop) and I have made smaller masks for dolls but there's a limit as to how small I can go. Like, barbie-sized dolls...probably not. Basically you'd have to make a paper pattern (just a simple "domino-style" paper pattern for size & eye placement) that fits your doll, and mail it to me, for me to make something that would be the exact right size.
Reply
:iconanimegirlfroggy:
animegirlfroggy Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
My dolls aren't as small as barbies, but maybe one day ill do that, I think it would be really neat. I'll keep an eye on your etsy store so when I have some spare money ill get me a really awesome mask.
Reply
:iconfuryfull:
furyfull Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2009
that is a gorgeous mask and thank you so much for posting a tutorial! I've always wondered how leather masks were made!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome. :-)

I kind of make mine in an odd, "self-taught" way...everyone does leather masks differently. I guess that's why I thought it was time to document my method.
Reply
:iconpaintedmaru:
paintedmaru Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2009
this tutorial is amazing. thanks for sharing this.

i was wondering, i had read somewhere that it's better to use vegetable oil tanned leather for masks like these. do you agree with that or what would you say is a better option of leather?
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm glad the tutorial was helpful. :-)

I prefer Veg tan myself. Chemical tanning methods use chrome dyes & sealers which impede the absorbtion of water, which is key for carving & shaping.

In my tutorials, in the "comments" sections, I offer more advice on supplies & where to find them. In short, I get my leather from 1-800-TANNERY.
Reply
:iconpaintedmaru:
paintedmaru Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2009
thanks a lot. i'm excited to try this sometime in the neat future.
:heart:
Reply
:icontombanwell:
TomBanwell Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2009
Very nice to see your process. Quite different from mine. Thanks, Tom
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks Tom...I'm honored! I love your work. ^_^
Reply
:iconvogelbeere:
Vogelbeere Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2009
This is really useful!
I've been searching for some leather-working tutorials since quite some time now, because there's a larger Cosplay-project I want to do with leather.
Thanks a lot for writing all this stuff down :)
I think I'll even try to do an own mask some time, even though it's not exactly needed for the cosplay ^^' But your masks are so inspiring :nod: I love the japanese designs :heart:

Would you mind if I ask you for your opinion on my project some time? (like what leather to use and so~)
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Sure, I'd be happy to help. :-)

If you read through all the comments at those entries, you'll find more info about materials there. Might answer some of your other questions.
Reply
:iconvogelbeere:
Vogelbeere Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2009
Thanks a lot :love:

I've been planning to do a cos of the blond character in this picture
[link] (sorry don't have anything with a higher resolution) And somehow I have the feeling that leather would be the perfect material for the main part of the clothing. Ok, it's going to be expensive as hell... but I just want to try it :heart:
Do you thjink it would be possible to do the clothes from leather? And what thickness should I use?
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Yes, you could totally do that as a series of plated pieces rivited together...6 to 7 ounce would work well, without being too heavy or rigid.
Reply
:iconvogelbeere:
Vogelbeere Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2009
Ok thanks a lot :heart:
I thought a bit more about it and I think I'll use leather for the body part and craft foam or something similar for this skirt-like thing. That should reduce the costs a little hit *coughs*

But before that I'll try do an own mask from leather <3 Yours just look so lovely!
Reply
:iconmonoyasha:
Monoyasha Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Your masks are simply breathtaking! I love the fact you made a tutorial to help others understand the process of making masks and basic tooling and shaping of leather. This will be a major help on my next project which seems reall leather is the only way to go. I found the website for the Leather company you order from and Im a bit confused on how the pricing/ordering works? they say bellies is $2.00 is that for sq ft or whole thing? Thank you for any assistance
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thank you & I'm glad it was helpful. :-)

That price is probably per square foot...pretty sure a belly costs between $18 and $25. They'll tell you the price if you ask, before they send anything.
Reply
:iconfreakdearts:
freakdearts Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2009  Student Filmographer
a very interesting and rewarding read... hmmm... is the leather stiff as a board to start out with or is it slightly limp... and have you tried doing two at once?
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks! Yes, it's pliable but at that thickness it's pretty firm, & usually I work on 5 or 6 masks at a time (that one project was so involved, though, that I only did one).
Reply
:iconlainwicked:
lainwicked Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009
oohhh that's soo cool! thanks u soo much!!!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome! I hope it's helpful... :-)
Reply
:iconlainwicked:
lainwicked Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009
i soo much more in lov with your work now :heart:
i dont have idea where to get leather in my city ><, this works with synthetic leather as well?
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Not really. I get my leather from a tannery in Curwenswillve PA. You can call & order a belly for practicing on (their leather is great!!). Just call 1-800-TANNERY and if you don't want to spend much, just get a few "russet carving" bellies (about $20 each) in different weights so you can find your favorite thickness to work with. 6, 7, or 8 ounce works best.

They'll ship it right to your door.
Reply
:iconbdunn1342:
bdunn1342 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009   General Artist
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing tutorial. I've worked in leather before, but your experience and detailed advice has me thoroughly excited about trying some new approaches with hope of improving. Your masks are stunning and it's so generous of you to take the time and effort to help the rest of us. Thank you!
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome. I do hope it's helpful. I can explain it but really, it's a medium you have to experiment with firsthand to get a feel for it. Good luck & have fun! :-)
Reply
:iconsultanaire:
sultanaire Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2009  Student Digital Artist
Wow,I'm so happy you've posted this!
I was curious about how you made your masks.
I do most of my masks in paper mache or manila folders. But, I really want to start using other materials. (like leather.)

Thank you for posting this!
you are an amazing inspiration to me.
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome! I hope you get a chance to try out this medium. Read all the responses in the comments section too (in the actual entries...not here) because I listed some sources there for supplies that might be helpful.
Reply
:iconmarcusstratus:
Marcusstratus Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Wow, great tutorials :D gives me ideas for making masks... I really like your colouring tutorial and how you do it ^.^

Thanks! :ahoy:
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thank you! I hope it was helpful.
Reply
:iconmarcusstratus:
Marcusstratus Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
yes, quite
Reply
:iconebeho:
Ebeho Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2009
That was really cool! I have a few friends who are really into masks and they will be thrilled to see that. Thanks so much.
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks! Glad you liked it & yes, please do share it with anyone that you think might learn something from it.
Reply
:icongunnahan:
Gunnahan Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2009
Great Tut there, thank you!

i have been looking for some insight into mask making for some time but havent found anything that comes close to this.

when i get round to trying this technique myself (and i surely will) i will post a picture and credit you ;-)
Reply
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