How we made the mask:Photos by Carly Turlington, 8 yrs. old. Didn't she do a pro job?
(Click on any image to have a better look.)
I clipped back as many tiny little hairs as I could to keep them from drying in the plaster - ouch. Then we wrapped her hair and body in plastic to protect the clothes. Note though, later I had to arrange the plastic to allow her hands to be out so that she could hold a paper towel and dab off drips as they roll down her face. This is a very messy process!
Rubbed some lotion over the skin so the plaster wouldn't stick hard to the face. I used Avon's Skin So Soft. Do they still make that product? My bottle is years old. I think it was also a mosquito repellent. It works very well to lubricate the face for this process. I even lubricated the eyelids and eye brows, etc.
Putting a liberal coat of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) over the eyebrows and eyelashes to saturate each hair ensures they won't stick to the plastered gauze -- I didn't want anything stuck to and coming off with the dry mask!
Now, we could start making the mask. Rigid Wrap is gauze impregnated with dry plaster. I cut it in small rectangular pieces. Most about 1 1/2" x 1" and a few were about 1 1/2" x 1/2." I started with larger ones saving the thin ones for tiny places around her nose. Each piece of gauze is dipped in warm water just before it's applied. (Disregard the color of the water. Honest, it's only warm tap water but our water turns brown sometimes and the city assures us it's ok - NOT! In a while the faucet water runs clear again.)
I start on the forehead and wrap the pieces around the perimeter of the face, going under the chin, and overlapping each piece by about 1/4 of an inch. After put a piece on, I rub the surface of the piece to smooth the softened plaster. After the perimeter is done, I start covering all the forehead, the checks, and the chin. Next, I cover the eyes and then the lips. As I work, I'm careful to follow all the contours of the face pressing the gauze gently into depressions and crevases so the mask will look like her. I'm especially careful around the eyes, the mouth and lips. I talk the whole time, reassuring Korie that she was doing well and telling her each step what I was about to do. I let her know that when I do the top of the nose and upper lip area that I will not cover the nostrils. She will be able to breathe. I also put a thin strip between the nostrils. It is necessary to put two layers of gauze pieces on the mask so I go over the whole face again. The gauze dries fairly quickly and the forehead and edges will probably be dry and hard already.
Before I covered her nostrils, I loosened the edges of the mask all the way around the perimeter to be sure it will come off easily. Lastly, after the mask was loose around the edges, I told Korie it was time for the nostril piece. I counted to three while dipping the small gauze piece in water and moved it to her face, told her to hold her breath, and then quickly covered her nostrils. I count aloud to ten quickly (because we practiced that ahead of time - holding her breath for a count of ten) while I'm smoothing the piece on her nostrils and take the mask off whether I'm done or not. After all, she has to breathe!
I took the mask off. Korie was glad to be out of that dark cave. She did extremely well right up to the end. I always hold the mask up to the light to see where it might be thin and I add pieces of gauze either outside or on the inside of the mask to reinforce it. Korie got impatient and moved her face before the lip and nose area got set enough so I had to reinforce it a lot after we took it off. I would put it back up against her face to try to keep the shapes correct. Be careful when adding gauze for this because too many layers in certain places will distort the mask just enough to NOT look like the subject.
To complete the building of the mask, I cut the shape of the rim to give it a nice oval shape with even edges. Then I added a layer of gauze pieces around the rim to give it a finished edge. Finally, we set it aside to let it dry overnight. This is necessary in order for it to harden and cure. You can tell if a piece is completely dry by the way it feels – if it feels “cold” its still curing. Rigid Wrap can be cured faster in a microwave – to tell if it is completely cured – allow it to cool before judging to see if it still feels “cold” – at room temperature.
After the masks were totally dry and cured, we covered them with a layer of gesso to seal them before painting them. When the gesso was dry, each girl chose her colors and painted her mask inside and out. When that layer dried, the girls looked through my stash of emphemera and found objects to design and complete decorating their masks. And when the glue dried (we used Bond 527 multi-purpose cement to glue objects), we took pictures and celebrated!!