Right front view of mask painted with bright wavy lines in blue, yellow, red, orange, green, purple, and black.

Primary materials: Cloth, glue, acrylic paint.

I started this mask to use as part of a larger, more complicated project. When I realized it wouldn’t work for that I decided to turn it into its own thing.

It’s made from two sheets of old t-shirt cloth that I layered with glue over a clay face form. When it dried I trimmed it and cut in the eyes and nose holes. I also decided to put in a mouth for air flow, more than for the anatomy of it.

My mold made for a recessive chin which I wasn’t happy with, so I built it up a bit using some old leftover papier-napkin mache, and covered it with smaller strips of cloth.

Left side of mask. It has a skull-like profile.

Front of mask. It has pink hearts for eyes.

The mask was never supposed to be particularly symmetrical, but after I added the papier-mache it began to warp more severely. And it really got twisty when I put it in a dehydrator box to dry more quickly (heat softens the glue, and the stress held in the fabric pulls itself out of shape).

I decided to use this as an opportunity to experiment with being a little more spontaneous and make artistic choices I wouldn’t make on a project where I was more invested in getting a particular result.

Because the warped shape was getting somewhat sinister, I thought it would be funny to juxtapose that with hearts in the eyes. Also, because it was asymmetric, I decided to roll with that and paint it asymmetrically and in a style where I didn’t have to water down the paints. (Putting on a layer of watery paint as a basecoat softened it up again and it warped even more, and I didn’t want this to happen again, or it could become unwearable.)

As it turned out, painting all these lines even in a semi-orderly fashion took 80 percent of the build time on this project.

This is very light weight and because of its twisted shape it could be worn without any straps—purely by friction-fit, although not too securely. I glued in a single one-piece strap in the back, which I had never done before.

There is painted mesh in the eyes. This is the first time I’ve painted mesh. I’m fairly happy with the result. It takes a little finesse to keep the holes from being clogged up, but when this is done, the paint in no way reduces visibility.

This project was an interesting unplanned journey. It taught me some valuable lessons about the properties and limits of different materials and was a useful opportunity to try new things.