Q: What part of masking making do you find the most enjoyable?
A: Expressing my creativity to make something that hasn’t existed before. Within this, the milestones are usually the most fun: Getting excited about an idea, beginning building, or the first coats of paint. And then when it’s all finished and I step back and can say, “Hey, I made that!” it can be a great feeling. When I see people’s reactions to what I’ve built that is very rewarding also.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Other people’s work, nature, looking at a material and feeling that there’s a possibility for something interesting in it, and my own experiences. Anything can be a source of inspiration, really.
Q: What is your favorite material?
A: I really don’t have a favorite at this point. I like experimenting and trying new things with each project. Part of that means using lots of different materials and make the masks look very different from each other. Each material has its own qualities and challenges. I’ve ended up using cloth and plastic the most often.
Q: What part of the process do you find the hardest?
A: I have to answer that in two sections. From a pure physical point of view, making something that can be worn comfortably is the hardest part. The funny thing is, the art is what you see, but in a lot of ways that’s the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to color or paint one of these than to make it light and strong and fit correctly. How do you get the eyes to line up? The straps to fit? The nose to have enough room? A lot of time and effort goes into that.
The non-physical hardest part is perfectionism. That can be a huge waste of time and energy. Separating good craftsmanship and attention to detail from pointless fuss can be quite difficult, especially in the middle of a project. It’s a balancing act.
Q: What’s the difference between a mask and a helmet?
A: In my thinking a mask is held onto the face with straps or attachments of some kind, and does not cover the entire head. A helmet covers the whole head. I usually refer to everything as a mask, though, for the sake of convenience.
Q: What’s the difference between “paper-mache” and “papier-mache”?
A: Sometimes these are just different spellings of the same thing. However, I remember learning one time that paper-mache is sheets or strips of paper glued into layers. Papier-mache, on the other hand, is ground up paper pulp with binders added that can be molded almost like clay. I wish there were more distinct names for these things, because sheets of paper and paper pulps behave in very different ways. In my writings on this site I’ll follow the paper-papier definition as I have given it.
Q: What is cloth-mache?
A: The same concept as paper-mache, but using strips of cloth instead of paper, and glue instead of flour and water. When the glue dries it makes the fabric stiff but slightly flexible. To make a mask, I build up a shape using metal mesh, tape, and other materials, and then cover it inside and out with cloth-mache. I got the name and technique from watching Dan “The Monster Man” Reeder videos on YouTube. They’re worth checking out! His channel. His website.
Q: Are there any particular types of plastic bottles you use, or you stay away from, due to experience?
A: I really like Poland Springs one gallon water bottles. The opaque kind with a handle—not the round, clear kind. Those are too thin and brittle. Good mask plastic needs to be flexible.
Q: How durable are these masks?
A: It varies greatly by material. Overall I see these more as artwork that is wearable than as something meant for continual performance or crowded Halloween party.
Q: How comfortable are they?
A: It depends on the mask. I always try to make them wearable. However, sometimes I’m more interested in making something that looks cool than making it practical.
Q: Are these one size fits all?
A: Most of these are designed for a medium-large male head. Some are adjustable to a degree, or could be padded for someone with a smaller head.
Q: Are they for sale?
A: This isn’t a sales site but more of an online portfolio. However, if one of these masks is singing to you, by all means contact me and we can discuss next steps.
Q: I have an idea for a custom mask you’ve never made. Can you make it for me?
A: I don’t know! It all comes down to the specifics of the project. Don’t hesitate to contact me about it.