Wednesday, June 26, 2013
If you've noticed my lack of craft posts the past few months, it's because all my crafting energy has been going into my next cosplay - which is fun, but also saps my creative mojo, so to speak. I'm looking forward to finishing just so I can get back to smaller, immediate-gratification projects!
Sadly I'm nowhere near the finish line yet, but I think the most important part - my mask - is finally finished enough to show off.
As most of you guessed from my sneak peek ages ago, I'm working on a steampunk White Rabbit from Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
Now, this is my first-ever foray into leather working, so naturally John and I jumped in head first by starting with a fairly complicated mask. Heh. I turned to Youtube for tutorials - and highly recommend this one from Merimask - but we still were figuring out a lot of things as we went along, since every tutorial offers slightly different advice.
I started by modeling my mask after Andrea/Merimask's "Gentleman Bunnies" design:
Aaaaand here's my mask (so far):
John did the hardest part, which was drawing and adjusting the paper template, stopping to crinkle it over my face every few minutes to check the fit. When he was satisfied, he cut it out of vegetable-tanned, 8 oz leather and handed it over to me to sketch on. I drew in my design details, and then he did the carving:
Next we soaked the mask in water and formed it on my face. This was tricky, since the muzzle really needed to stand out, but I kept working at it with my fingers, and was eventually satisfied with the shape. (Interesting note: saturated leather is oddly clay-like, and very malleable.) We also shaped the ears a bit.
We propped up the formed mask on parchment paper, and then baked it at about 200 degrees until it dried:
We used 7 to 8 pound leather for the mask, although I've since learned that we probably could have used something a bit thinner. This thickness is rock hard when dry, and feels more like wood than leather on my face. Good thing it's molded to fit so well!
As much as I like the color of undyed leather, I couldn't really be the White Rabbit without, well, some white. So next came priming and painting:
As soon as I finished the gold I realized the contrast was just too stark, so next I aged the entire mask with a lovely yellowish-brown water-based glaze. (The advantages of being married to a former faux-finisher: custom glazes on demand!)
I went a little overboard with the aging, though, so even though I loved the look, I had to go back and white-wash the white sections again to brighten it up. After all, I don't want to be the Cream Rabbit.
The monocle was WAY harder than the mask, and took three times as long to make. I spent hours on the paper template, shaving off millimeter by millimeter to get it to fit the mask contours exactly. I first made a vinyl version, but then started over with a thicker leather for a more authentic look. I also started out with a vintage flashlight lens, but then abandoned THAT for the fun metal edging you see here:
I cut my own lens out of plexiglass, and added a scrim by stretching a scrap of thin black pantyhose over the back. Finally I formed & stitched the cup, added decorations, and riveted the whole shebang onto the mask.
That process was stretched over more weeks than I'd care to admit. I've come to realize I am the world's slowest crafter, just because I figure things out as I go, instead of starting with a clear-cut design and plan of attack. I like the process, but it does get frustrating.
Now check out this loveliness:
This is what you get when you let weeds overtake your backyard: a lovely, springy ground cover in brilliant green. Who needs grass? I like this stuff!
Oh, and I just realized the scale of this picture makes my mask look tiny, but I can assure you that's just a giant pocket watch. :) It's actually a vintage wall clock, but I removed the electrical guts and replaced them with a lightweight battery operated clock mechanism, so it even works! I also jazzed up the face with metallic gear cutouts and gems. (Still not 100% happy with it, but it's on the back burner for now.) The thing still weighs a ton due to its heavy metal case, but there's no way I could make something like this entirely from scratch.
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