Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cosplaying Hawkingbird: Mockingbird's Mask

I started working on Kate's mask quite a while ago, and it's proving a little bit more difficult than anticipated, only because of the materials that I decided to use. I've made masks before, usually out of fabric. So my first attempt was to make this out of the same fabric as the dress.

However, I realized that masks I make out of fabric are often very much embellished with trim, which can hid a lot of the sewing seams. This did not work with the very simple Mockingbird mask. So, I had to try a different type of material instead.

Making the template is easy enough. I had my Viking take measurements of my face --
  • the distance between my eyes
  • the distance from my eye to my ear.
  • the length of my nose as well as my eyes
I measured out the distances on paper, and then sketched out an approximate look for my mask. It looks strange because the mask wraps around the face and appears elongated on a 2D surface. Because my face was relatively symmetrical, I completed the pattern on one side only.



Then traced out half of the pattern on drafting paper, because they are symmetrical and I was going to be cutting out fabric.

I cut out my first attempt on millinery fabric called buckram.

I took a look at Kate's mask on the comic book again, as well various renditions of Mockingbird's Mask, and noticed that there was a notch at the edge that isn't apparent in some frames of the comic book.


So I re-did my mask template. And started cutting out the fabric, which I attached to fusible interfacing so that it would be stiffer.

First, I tried to glue the fabric onto the buckram, which didn't look great, so I opted to sew instead, which is a pain to do, especially around the eyes. Sewing proved to be tedious and completely time consuming.


I made several prototypes trying different techniques, and most of them proved to be failures...or not quite the look I wanted. The finished masks were too fiddly to create and didn't have the stiffness that I wanted.

I abandoned the idea of using fabric, and went back to use the worbla instead. I traced out my paper template onto the worbla and cut it out. I shaped the mask to my face.

I cut out a bit more worbla for the top edge using another template


I had learned my lesson with worbla making the belt buckle, and researched techniques that other cosplayers used. I opted to use a heavy duty gesso. I taped off sections and started working on it.

The "V" portion of the mask got 5 layers of gesso, interspersed with sprayable shellac. Then the main body of the mask got 3 layers of gesso, interspersed with sprayable shellac. There was much sanding in-between layers. I also used a lot of blue painters tape.

Then it was a matter of painting the body of the mask using purple spray paint after covering the V part with the blue tape.
(Sam looking to see if he could steal Q-tips...)


Then I painted the "V" with a heavy duty acrylic paint. Then used a darker purple and black to paint the edges of the eyeholes as well as a shadow-effect between the V and main body of the mask.


After I was satisfied with my work, it was just a matter of final coat of a glossy finish. I still need to attach elastic bands to the mask...and maybe a piece of fabric (felt) to the underside), but that's fairly simple to do. Overall, the mask is done....


Overall, the mask took probably the longest time to make, just because I was trying to figure out how best to attack the problem, as you can make a mask in many different ways. Each way had its own advantages / disadvantages, and both ways (sewing vs. worbla) took a lot of time and effort to do well. 

In making the mask, I learned a great deal about what would be the best material for what type of application. For super hero masks that require more rigidity and sharp angles, I will stick with the worbla or paper maiche. For masks with softer contours, I'll probably stick with fabric.
The Making of....