Mask Making After Florence

I was buzzing to get started on mask making when I returned from Florence but it was going to take a while to gather the materials and equipment.  Luckily I still had a few old half-finished masks lying around from last year.  I’d left them in various states after booking my course in Florence, as I figured I’d probably learn more there than I would by completing them straight away.  I wasn’t too worried about ruining them as I’d learned a bit about how to design a mask to fit a face properly since making them!

I started on the old Cthulhu mask.  I managed to find a british equivalent of the paint from Florence that resulted in a much more controlled cracked effect than my attempts last year.  The paints used for the colour were a bit of a puzzle and I managed to make a bit of a mess with a cat mask before giving up with them.  It might just have been an error in translation, but I did some more experimenting and managed to layer up a selection of others for a fairly pleasing result eventually.

I also had a go at adding gold details to the last cat mask, and leaving the background white to see the result of the aging effect more clearly.  Although it looks better in real life than this photo makes out I still think I need to work on that a bit.  I also managed to cover this second Cthulhu in red fluff after trying to polish him too early.  Again, hooray for learning processes.

Then, finally, I had everything I needed to start a new mask, including a rare full day off work!  I made a new clay sculpture using my mask from Florence as a reference, cast it in plaster, and have left it to cure.  The real test will be in a week or so when I attempt to make a first mask from the mold.  Til then I’ll just have to amuse myself with other projects.


Cats, Devils and Cthulhu

Back to papier mache masks.  I’d started to get a little fed up with plasticine as a sculpting material.  It was difficult to work with and took forever to create the details that I wanted so I ordered some clay and a couple of airtight containers, and a couple of weekends ago finally found the time to try it out.

What a difference!  I can’t imagine how I put up with the plasticine now.  Using clay has reminded me how much I used to love working with it at school many many moons ago.  It’s so much more agreeable and much easier to smooth.  I began by making a cat and devil sculpt:

Cat Mask Clay Sculpt Devil Mask Clay Sculpt

As you can see, the cat mask was sculpted over the same clay face I used previously.  For the devil mask, I pushed the clay into a modroc cast I’d made of that same face:

Pushing clay into the face cast

This essentially replicated the underlying clay face, but in damp, workable clay.  I added details and chopped off the lower part of the face, and all this resulted in a much closer fit than the cat mask.

Devil Mask Cat Mask

The cat and devil mask popped out of the molds.  They need trimming around the eyes and edges, but otherwise it seemed to work brilliantly!  The cat mask is based on the traditional cat masks found in Venice.  I liked the simple form of them, so didn’t change too much when I made my own.

Sketching Cthulhu

And finally, I wanted to try something a little more complex, and Cthulhu seemed like the perfect subject (when is he not?).  I pondered over how to do the tentacles for some time.  The sketch on the far right would no doubt be easiest: a stylised straight tentacle look.  But who wants to go for the easiest option?  I studied some photos of classical statues with curly beards, then went for it:

Cthulhu Clay Sculpt Cthulhu Mask

The clay Cthulhu sculpt, and the resulting mask as it was this morning; a layer of glue drying so slowly that I had to hold it for the photo otherwise it’d stick itself to my favourite Generic Background paper, and we can’t have that.

In case you can’t tell, I also discovered Instagram.  I’m using it to document my mask making trials and errors as I always have my phone nearby while I work and it’s easy enough to snap a work in progress.  My camera lives upstairs in a drawer, and sometimes you have to be quick before something dries/runs/sets in the wrong place.  See what I’m up to on Instagram.

Baking Bad

I couldn’t let Breaking Bad finish without some kind of celebration.  It has, after all, been one hell of a ride these last few years, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with my Monday nights now it’s all over.

Stage one: the cake.

baking bad cake

It’s a blue (well, more aquamarine to be honest, damn you Todd!) and white marbled two layer cake.  This layer did a bit of a chestburster inpression as I tried to bash coax it gently out of the tin, but as you can see the cracks where it was reattached are barely noticable.  Or at least, it’ll all be covered in piles of icing soon, so frankly who cares.

Baking Bad Crystal Cake

And here it is, possibly the most dangerous Breaking Bad cake in East Anglia.  The ‘crystal meth’ is rock candy (see previous post) and while not as dangerous as the first lot I made I’d still recommend removing the big shards before taking a bite!

Breaking Bad Cupcakes

The second batch of cake mix I made into cupcakes for my fellow BrBa obsessed colleagues. I made about 15 and they disappeared pretty quickly, so I’m glad I kept a few aside for the actual episode later that night!

Dangerous Cakes

I had a little of the candy glass left over, so… dangerous cake happened.  This one was later carefully deconstructed and eaten by trained professionals.

Breaking Bad ChocolatesBreaking Bad Chocolates

By the time I’d finished baking, I was on a bit of a sugar high so of course Breaking Bad Chocolates seemed like a brilliant idea, never mind that I already had half a kitchen’s worth of washing up to do.

Dark chocolate with blue-tinted white chocolate filling and candyfloss-flavoured crystals.  Nom.

Monday evening finally came around and before viewing commenced we ate (no rumbling stomachs would dare interrupt this episode!): the boy had cooked us Pollos Hermanos chicken in a basket, complete with Cap’n Cook’s Special Ingredient fries.  An awesome surprise to make the night complete!

Los Pollos Hermanos

Breaking Bad Rock Candy

With the finale just around the corner I decided it was about time to try making THIS blue meth inspired Breaking Bad Cake. The gloriously blue sparkle on top is blue rock candy and while I’m sure I could probably have ordered some online, I figured trying to make my own was a little more in the spirit of the show.  Candy making takes some exact measuring and temperature control after all!

I used this recipe by SugarHero though for my first attempt I tried using a dodgy thermometer which, predictably, didn’t work out and I ended up with a sheet of goo that slowly crystalised over a period of 3 days…


Sufficed to say I obtained a proper candy thermometer for the next batch.  And now I’ve got it I’ll obviously have to make it worth buying by making vast amounts of candy.  That, and it’s great fun!


As the initial batch had clearly not reached a high enough temperature to set, I overcompensated with this lot resulting in a slightly greenish tinge from caramelisation (I really should have just renamed it “Todd’s Slightly Dubious Aquamarine Meth” instead) and a very rapidly hardening batch of candy.  The dregs did a pretty good impression of candyfloss as I tried to pour it out into the waiting tray:

Meth candy

Still, I ended up with a lovely glassy sheet of Breaking Bad inspired candy which solidified within a couple of minutes.  Then came the fun part- smashing it!


It really does look like broken glass…  And it’s sharp enough to do a good impression by touch as well, most likely because I cooked it to a higher temperature than was needed rendering it more like hard boiled sweets than a softer cracked candy. This probably makes it a pretty dangerous cake topping so I’ll use this batch to accessorise my Heisenberg Candy labels (designed last week), and have another go at the weekend.


And the final result, smashed, bagged, and tagged: Heisenberg’s Blue Sky Crystal Candy.  That distracted me for a bit, now back to waiting for the final episode…

Heisenberg's Blue Sky Candy

Heisenberg's Blue Sky Candy