Mask Making Process

Most of the masks are made from a synthetic casting rubber called neoprene. It is a specialty product used in theater, display and industrial design, not related to the neoprene fabric that wetsuits are made of.   Mask neoprene is strong and durable, but still flexible. The process is described below.
Step 1
Step 1

The mask is sculpted in plasticine (non-drying, oil-based clay) on top of a plaster face cast. The neoprene is flexible enough that Beckie’s masks fit a wide variety of faces.  For custom work,  she has a large stock of face casts representing a range of sizes and ethnicities so that the clay sculpt can be built on a face cast closely resembling the client or actor.  Beckie can also work with clients on Zoom to create a personalized face cast.

 

Step 2
Step 2

The sculpted   plasticine face is covered in plaster-of-paris  or gypsum cement, forming a bowl-shaped negative mold of the sculpted mask face. The clay is removed.

 

Step 3
Step 3

Liquid neoprene is poured into the plaster mold. The rubber sits in the mold for 2.5 hours. The plaster absorbs some of the liquid in the rubber, forming a skin inside the mold.

Step 4
Step 4

The excess liquid is poured off, and the rubber remaining inside the mold forms the walls of the mask. At this point, the rubber is very soft, and needs to cure inside the mold..

Step 5
Step 5

After approximately 24 hours, the color of the rubber has changed from creamy white to beige, indicating that the mask is ready to be released from the mold.

Step 6
Step 6

Once out of the mold, the mask needs to cure and harden for several more days. When the mask is fully cured, it is trimmed and sanded.

 

Step 7
Step 7

Mask is painted with gesso and multiple layers of acrylic paint.

 

Step 8
Step 8

A 1/2″ elastic strap with an adjustable buckle is securely riveted in place.

 

Step 9
Step 9

Hair and other adornments are added. These are created with a wide variety of mixed media, including paper, synthetic hair, fur, fake fur, kitchen scrubbies, sponges, epoxy putty, etc. This gentleman got some brass scrubbie hair.

 

Step 10
Step 10

For this art mask of a Jewish scribe living in ancient Persia  (Mordechai, from the Book of Esther), Beckie built his beard out of twisted Hebrew newspapers, handmade paper, and metal pen nibs.  The hair is a combination of paper and fake fur.  The turban is a combination of handmade paper with a variety of writing screened on it, along with custom fabric  created by inkjet printing images of ancient Persian cuneiform tablets.