Making a Leather Mask-how to

Sometimes I get inspired to do crafts that intimidate me. I recently found a Martha Stewart segment on how to craft a mask from leather. They made it look so easy that I decided to give it a go, and I figured I might as well share my experience with you crafters of the world.

First thing you’ll need to do is gather supplies.

-printer

-really heavy duty super sharp scissors

-utility knife (as sharp as you’ve got)

-acrylic paints and paint brushes

-whatever embellishments you want

-crazy glue

-oven

-shallow dish for water

-water

-leather: I saved this for last because it’s the strangest thing on the list. You’ll need to learn about the different kinds of leather. The Martha Stewart page said 7oz leather, but that’s not so clear. I bought a 6 square foot split of 6oz leather from ebay. It MUST be vegetable tanned leather, and I think a split isn’t a good idea because the grain is so inconsistent and can be fuzzy. Next time I’ll go for a smoother piece.

Step 1: Find a template. I did two different masks. A unicorn from the Martha Stewart site, and a butterfly looking mask for Little G that I found on a quick google search. Print these out. The unicorn one does need to be enlarged, but for my first try I didn’t do that.

Step 2: Using a ballpoint pen (oops didn’t put that on the list of supplies) trace the mask onto the rougher side of the leather.

Step 3: cut them out. This is the hardest part because the eyeholes are tough. I used the scissors pictured above, and sharpened them with my knife sharpening tool. For the eyeholes I used a utility knife and an exacto knife and I still wasn’t able to get them as smooth as I wanted. I’ll be getting a sharper one for future projects. The idea is to make sure the edges aren’t jagged.

Step 4: Dip the mask into the water. So Martha Stewart instructions said the leather would have bubbles and when the bubbles went away it would be ready to mold. I think I wet mine too much, because it didn’t feel moldable, just wet. This is the first stage of molding, though, so put it on your face, or on the face of whoever you’re making the mask for. Pay special attention to the spot above your nose and be sure to press here to ensure the best mold.

Here’s Little G’s (she didn’t like the wet on her face so her’s didn’t come out very molded)

Here’s my unicorn. I took this opportunity to twist the horn too.

Step 5: Put in a 265 degree oven for 3 minutes. They say not to put it on anything special, but when I put in Little G’s on the rack it ended up with rack marks on the back. So I put it on a cookie sheet to avoid this.

Step 6: When it comes out it’s still slightly damp but will hold shape. So re-mold at this point. Fold things, twist things. I meant to bend the horn down but it was too damp to hold that position. Also, because the template for the unicorn was supposed to be bigger, I couldn’t get it to fit the sides of my face without sacrificing the nose indention. So you give, you take.

Step 7: Put it back in the oven. They say for 15-25 minutes, but I think I could’ve done it for less because mine came out looking crispy. It doesn’t really matter because you’re going to paint them, but I would rather my next piece look less cooked.

See what I mean…crispy.

Step 8: Paint! They recommend Liquitex acrylic paints, but I used what I had, which I think was apple farms or something like that. Now, here is where the texture of the leather matters. Little G’s mask was really fuzzy leather, so it sucks up paint, and required three good coats of paint. Whereas the unicorn was smoother and only needed two coats. Let it dry completely.

A word about the texture: Try as I might I couldn’t get Little G’s mask smooth. It’s a fuzzy mask-period. The unicorn mask IS smoother, but not as smooth as I’d like. In the end I used 3 coats on the unicorn and 4 on the fuzzy mask and it still wasn’t as smooth as I’d want it to be.

Step 9: Decorate as you wish. For Little G’s mask I went with lavender scroll work and finished it with a coat of glitter paint. Word to the wise about glitter paint on suede material is that you want to make sure you go with the grain so you don’t end up with gobs of gloss in the crevices. For the unicorn mask I used silver scroll work with some lavender accents around the eyes and the horn. I used crazy glue to adhere a few rhinestones up top and hit them both with a clear gloss sealant.

For a first try I don’t think they came out too bad. I still have to let them dry before I can attach the ribbons, but I’ll use a grommet punch to make the wholes and tie on some organza ribbon, because that doesn’t fray.

What do you think of my handiwork?

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