Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Make Your Own Armature for Mask Making

There are a few ways you can make an armature, but before I get into them, how about I explain what an armature is first! An armature is technically the framework around which your mask or a sculpture is built. In maskmaking it is used to sculpt on and then the mask is removed so the armature can be used over and over again. The benefit of using an armature is not having to buy pre-made half or full masks to work from and/or not having to use your own face as a model every time you need to make a new mask!

So without much ado, here is one method you can use to make your own armature.

Plaster / Plaster Method

 This is the easiest way in my opinion and will give you a decent armature. It will not be as detailed as an alginate molded armature would be, but it's good enough to get the job done! This method involves wrapping your face in plaster wrap cloth. You can get this at most craft stores; I know Michaels and AC Moore both carry it. It's usually called Rigid wrap or Art Minds Plaster Wrap. The package will have detailed directions, but it's basically just about cutting out strips and dipping them in warm water and then applying them to your face. I use vasoline to cover my entire face, but some just use it over their eyebrows and any hair.

You'll want to get a straw and cut it into a couple small pieces which can be inserted into your nose as everything else will be covered by the time you're done and you'll need to be able to breathe. Always start with an x over your nose/brow as the package will indicate. Make sure that the mask is solid with at least 3 layers of wrap. The other important thing is to make sure you keep your face relaxed. Try to avoid laughing! Pursing your lips a little helps as well to get the shape of them.

This is how your face should look when you're done.
You don't have to wait too long before taking this cast off. By the time you're done with the last layer the first layer will be well on it's way towards being dry which usually takes about 20 minutes total. You will be able to tell if you can safely take it off by how stable it feels. Some have said to wait until it feels itchy but I have never had that sensation - plaster is ALWAYS itchy to me!

So when you think it's ready just start to move your facial muscles around. Make funny faces, scrunch your cheeks upwards, and furl your brow! It should come off pretty easily. Don't put the plaster wrap away yet though because you're not done with it yet. You'll have to build up the edges a bit so that liquid plaster will sit in it and so that it will lay flat on your desk/ surface. I used a $3.00 Full face mask I bought at AC Moore and tried to match it as best as I could and keep the edge even. Make sure to cover the nose holes as well. When you think you've got it go ahead and let it dry.

Get a small box that your mold will fit in and line it with crumpled up newspaper. Before you start mixing your plaster, insert your dry mold into the box with the face side down. Line it with lots of vasoline and get into all of the creases. Now get your Plaster of Paris (hardware store) and mix enough to fill the mold. I think I used 4 or 5 cups of plaster for my face mold.

Pour the plaster into the mold very slowly until it's all in! Make sure that mold is level! And when you're done pouring tap the edges of the mold to get rid of any excess air bubbles that might be hiding in the plaster. Let it dry - it will take a good 30-40 minutes so just go and do something else.

Once it's dried, depending on the shape of your mold, you may be able to just take it out of the mold. Or if you made the mistake I did and made a dip in your mold, you will have to peel your mold off of the armature, ruining the mold. This is how it should look when it's out though! You can know make future masks off of this armature instead of having to get your face all mucky every time!

Armature from plaster/plaster method.

The plaster / plaster method works well, but if you want a really detailed armature, the best way to go is with alginate. I'll cover how to make an armature out of alginate next  Friday and once all of the methods are completed I'll link them all together for easy reference.

Thanks for Reading and Happy Creating!

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