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.

Cthulhu Chocolates

This winter I finally got around to a project I’ve been meaning to try for years: Cthulhu chocolates.  The idea came about when a colleague lent me a collection of Lovecraft stories and, during the year+ that it took me to get through it (I was very easily distracted) I started doodling tentacles, monsters, scenes from the tales, and eventually sculpting little Cthulhus, inspired by the description of the figurine found in ‘Call of Cthulhu’.

I have a habit of cycling rapidly through different crafts and projects, so at some point during the reading I started making chocolates.  I’d picked up a cheap mould, expensive chocolate, and spend a few evenings making ganache and filling chocolates with whatever I could get my hands on (see my post on the first batch).

It only took a small mental leap (and the discovery of food-safe silicone putty) to realise I could turn my Cthulhu sculptures into eldritch edibles.  This is the result:

P1010241

And packaged up with some Elder Sign extras to inflict upon colleagues for Christmas (forgive the cuteness, I threw the packaging together in 20 minutes one morning and used an old Cthulmas doodle):

Cthulhu Chocolates

I also made a larger mould, but he had trouble with air bubbles:

Cthulhu Chocolates

The putty was fun to use and definitely has potential…  I don’t tend to make chocolates very often as once I’ve tested them and ‘cleaned’ the melting bowls I really don’t feel like eating chocolate for weeks!

Cthulhu Decorations

After a discussion wishing we could hold a Cthulhu-themed party, a friend of mine came up with the idea of posting party planning ideas online, and as I design the odd party invitation it seemed like the perfect thing to do here. So, if you’re looking for unusual party ideas, geeky party decorations, or game ideas, hopefully the Parties page will give you a few ideas!

In honour of the original discussion, the first one is for Cthulhu. Whether you want to invoke the dread creature himself, celebrate Lovecraft’s life and work, or jump on the cute-cthulhu bandwagon, click here for our Lovecraft Party page so far.

Cthulhu Decorations…

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