Left front view of orange and brown mask covered in round, irregular scales that do not overlap. It has a black-mesh visor surrounded by gnarled root-like structures. on its face.

Primary materials: Cloth, glue, metal mesh, tape, paper napkins, wax paper, acrylic paint.

This mask is all about experimenting with scales. It’s the first time I’ve used them, with the exception of a few details I put on my Scorpion Helmet.

I started the mask like I normally do for this style, by making a metal-mesh shell and covering it with cloth dipped in glue. For some reason the mesh just wasn’t behaving at the start of the project. I struggled with it for longer than usual in an attempt to make something relatively even. I wanted a smooth substrate to put the scales on.

Eventually I wrangled the mesh into shape (sort of) and tried something new by putting on bigger sheets of cloth than usual. I thought this would be more efficient than small squares of cloth. Things did go faster, but larger pieces of cloth, when placed over a curved surface, tend to wrinkle and fold in on themselves. I smoothed this out with strategic application of wax paper, masking tape, and homemade paper-napkin mache; then I covered it with another layer of cloth (small squares this time) and it was ready for scales.

I put in a visor for a couple of reasons. Eye holes are tedious to do. For a while I’ve wondered if I could cut the work in half by having only one hole in the mask. Second, I’ve only done a visor once before and not in this media, so I wanted to change things up and try it.

Left side of mask. Its helmet shape is apparent.
Front of mask. The face roots are prominent.
Right front of orange and brown scale mask with roots on face.

One artistic drive of mine is to make things more smooth, even, and symmetrical. I knew I’d never get the visor perfectly even, so I decided to embrace that unevenness. That’s when I got the idea for the root-like structures on the face and the uneven bottom rim of the mask. I did my normal thing of putting in magnets so the visor mesh can be magnetically attached, and removed if necessary.

Because I’d never done scales like this before, I wasn’t sure what the best pattern or layout would be, and how I would deal with the zones where scales begin and end in a way that looked good. I started by putting scales around the bottom of the mask. After some consideration I decided to continue this more or less circular, non-overlapping scale pattern across the whole thing, except for some big scales along the top and back (not visible in the pictures).

In any case, putting on these scales turned out to be challenging, but less tedious then I originally thought. At some point I’d like to try out overlapping scales.

For painting, I used the trusty approach of applying many thin, watery layers to build depth. I chose orange because I hadn’t made an orange mask before, and I also wanted to see if I could make this look like a robber-fly pupa, which is a color scheme I wanted to do last year but didn’t know how. All the nooks created by the scales and facial structures made this challenging to paint. I didn’t quite get the look I was going for, but I think it ended up pretty neat anyway.

Finally I put in a chin-strap and some foam padding inside. It’s quite comfortable. It has good visibility and breathability.