My costume began with a sketch inspired by bits and pieces of a fox.
To make this costume, I needed to paper mache a fox skull-themed helmet, make a ton of tails and attach them to a belt/skirt, and find black clothing that I could rough up a bit. Of course I started with my favorite part...the mask!
Way back in 2005, I had made a similar mask and separate helmet (below).
2005 Halloween Mask
Problems with this mask include a) I could not see shit and b) the whole thing was impossible to keep on, as the mask was front heavy, and the helmet kind of back heavy. It also ended up being kind of flimsy, and the mask has since been squashed flat in a few separate moves. So I set out to build a single mask/hemlet combo, and improve on the original design. To the crafting montage!
Taped strips of cardboard together, one by one..
And then I had a silly hat in the general shape of my head!
The key to making this mask was building a comfortable, nearly symmetrical, head-shaped cardboard armature. I had to make it a fairly tight grid so that wet newsprint wouldn't sag in between the strips of cardboard. Pro tip for fellow paper machers, add ridges, lumps, and other such details in the paper mache stage, not in cardboard. At a certain sogginess, newspaper behaves a bit like clay. You can mold it fairly precisely, then just drape a layer of paper mache over the wads of newspaper for smoothness. Also, be aware that paper mache shrinks...
Adjust strips, cut extra cardboard off, and add paper mache...
For the paper mache, I actually use flour and water as the glue. Its much cheaper than real glue and it creates a very firm bond. I also like the way water based paints stick to it.
Paint with acrylics...
After a base coat of opaque white, I filled in all the nooks and crannies with ocher and grey. I used the corner of a damp, paint soaked paper towel to simultaneously smoosh dark paint into the low parts of the texture and wipe it off the high areas to let the white show through. Lots of layers of this gives the mask a striking texture.
(I also added some ridges to give the back both counterbalance weight and detail)
And voila! The finished mask!
Paper mache is amazing, I love the rough texture it gives the finished product. After lining the head bits with muslin, this thing was down right comfortable! Mask complete!