Leather masquerade masks are used the world over. They come in a variety of styles, from fun and festive to the dark and Gothic. They are worn for masquerade balls, Halloween, Mardi Gras and Renaissance pageants. If you have worked with leather, or are eager to learn, you can make your own leather mask in the design you like. The long-wearing leather can be worn over and over again for a variety of celebrations, or used as a piece of decorative art for your home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 3 to 8 ounce piece of leather
- Razor knife
- Water based acrylic paint
- Trim and decorations
Buy a piece of vegetable tanned leather. Choose the colour and thickness you like; between 85.1 to 227gr thickness will suit this type of project. Leather pieces are available in some craft stores or online at a leather supply company.
Make a paper pattern of what you'd like the mask to look like. Remember to cut eye holes and a mouth if you are going for a full face style. Cut small holes in the sides so you can attach elastic to wear around the head.
Trace the pattern shape onto the leather and cut it out using a razor knife.
Soak the mask in water in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight to make the leather soft and mouldable.
Lay the wet leather on your face and press firmly to shape and mould the mask to your facial contours. The mask will dry in the shape of your face. Keep the mask on for several minutes so the leather will retain its shape. Take the mask off carefully and lay it out to dry. Let the mask dry naturally in room temperature conditions. Do not use a blow dryer or place the mask in the direct sun.
Exaggerate any features while the leather is drying. If you want a pointed nose or high cheekbones, now is the time to do it. This is when the leather is most pliable.
Cut away more leather if you need to when the mask is completely dry. Paint your mask with water based acrylic paint. When the paint is dry, you can add trim, beads or other decorative items.
Attach elastic or decorative ribbon through the holes on the sides to keep your mask on.
Tips and warnings
- Your mask will become more comfortable each time you wear it. As the leather wears and softens, it will mould more and more to the shape of your face.
- Cut your mask on a surface that will not be harmed by the knife.
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