Once the design for the Cthulhu inspired mask was decided upon I had to think about how to go about making it. The first thing to consider was what clay to use and also building an armature to base the sculpt upon. I did a fair bit of research from various books and the internet for information as I always do, until I felt more confident about the methods needed. (A useful site was http://www.fxwarehouse.info/make_mask.shtml which has tutorials and advice on a lot of various techniques).
The clay I have used previously was very hard and therefore difficult to use because I had to warm it for ages before it was malleable enough to sculpt and then it would harden again very quickly making detail difficult to accomplish too. So for this mask I decided to try a well known, popular brand called Chavant’s Le Beau Touche which is a terracotta coloured oil-based clay, is sulphur free (compatible with silicone), very smooth and highly adhesive. It was totally different to the previous plastilene I had used and instantly malleable which was a pleasure to use.
For the armature, I decided to go with a cheap styrofoam head which I have never used before. I bought a female head for about £1.99 from eBay which was so reasonable. I sawed a piece of hardboard to size (15 x 10 ins), drew around the base of the head in the centre and then drilled 3 holes in a triangle and attached the head with three 5” screws. There are lots of ways that you can improvise making an armature but this seemed to work quite effectively. I will mention though that you need the 2 screws at the back of the head because I found the weight of the sculp was quite considerable by the end so I needed the extra support at the back to prevent it from tipping forward.
OnceI’d made the armature the article I mentioned above suggested you coat the head with a very thin coat of vaseline to ‘help the plastilene stick’. I think this may actually be a misprint though because I had to wipe the vaseline off over and over again because the faintest trace prevented any chance of the clay adhering. (It drove me crazy so bear this in mind).
There isn’t a lot of text I can add for each stage because it was just a basic progression of adding detail. I hope the pictures for each stage will demonstrate it effectively enough. I’ve arranged the photos chronologically so you can see how it developed over the week …
A few notes I wanted to add were that I used regular clay sculpting tools, and toothpicks for the detail and mainly my fingers and thumbs for shaping and smoothing. For the detail smoothing I used cotton buds and fine brushes with lighter fluid which softens and dissolves the clay a little to remove the scratchy tool marks and finger prints etc.
Also I have left the holes for the teeth as I’m going to make these with acrylic once the mask has been made. I want them to be really nasty so feel if I make them seperately I can make them most realistic with an almost translucent look and various sizes.
I’d like to add also that I’m actually really nervous about casting and molding this mask. There’s so much potential for it to go wrong with all the detail but hey it’s all a challenge though isn’t it?